by Tim Jeffery
America’s Cup World Series Plymouth - Today’s preliminary round gave spectators an up close visual treat to racing. In the case of one particular spectator boat that closeness resulted in physical contact on the racecourse with Oracle Racing Spithill in Race 3.
Oracle Racing Spithill - America’s Cup World Series 2011 Plymouth
Joe Newton (AUS) and Dirk de Ridder (NED) fended off the 22-foot cruising boat from the AC45 after it had strayed onto the course area, with no damage done and a little friendly banter exchanged.
'We went around the guy and he got a little confused and went forward, so we ended up alongside him,' explained skipper James Spithill. 'I said ‘Put it in reverse mate,’ but he didn’t have reverse!'
It harmed Oracle Racing Spithill’s result in Race 3, dropping them to fourth for the heat. Sptihill’s crew finished third today and Oracle Racing Coutts sixth, but Russell Coutts’ team took top honors with the fastest time in the 500m Speed Trial event.
In weather conditions that alternated between broken clouds and full rain with windspeeds between 10 and 20 knots, the second America’s Cup World Series event commenced with a flurry of action.
Three quick-fire fleet races of approximately 20 minutes each were held, followed by the ACWS Plymouth Speed Trials. It was all taken in by a crowed estimated in excess of 10,000 people lining the cliffs of Plymouth Hoe, perched 200 to 300 feet above the racecourse, the action at their feet.
'We expected the Hoe to offer an opportune vantage point and today’s crowd proves that belief,' said Oracle Racing CEO Russell Coutts. 'AC45 racing is fast, strenuous and exciting, and the fans got all of that today.'
The wind strength at times today was the strongest that the America’s Cup teams have seen on the racecourse. Bows were digging in at mark roundings and crews could be heard gasping for every breath of oxygen possible. The onboard microphones broadcast the wind whistling through the rigs, enhancing the immersive experience for those watching online.
Oracle Racing Coutts - America's Cup World Series 2011 Plymouth
Oracle Racing Spithill scored a 2-1 in the first two races and was hunting down Race 3 leader Emirates Team New Zealand when misfortune struck with the small cruiser.
Oracle Racing Spithill had an advantage of about 100 meters on third-placed Artemis Racing before the mishap, but after it was over had dropped to fourth, behind Artemis and teammate Oracle Racing Coutts.
That result dropped Oracle Racing Spithill into a tie for second on the day with Artemis Racing, but Artemis won the tiebreaker by virtue of finishing second in the day’s concluding race.
Oracle Racing Coutts placed third in the final race and finished with 15 points on the day and sixth place. But the crew was hampered by an OCS (on the course side) in Race 1, which left them scored with zero points.
Oracle Racing Sailors’ Quotes:
James Spithill: 'It was a fantastic turn-out today, really impressive. The conditions were pretty nice.'
'It seemed like a long day on the water. For the guys in the crew, there are a lot of sore muscles. For the driver, you feel it in the legs through hiking.'
Russell Coutts: 'It was fantastic first day. There were a lot people watching and Plymouth proved it was a great choice for a venue.'
'The starts were not very good today but we learnt some things today, so that was good. '
ACWS Plymouth Preliminary Round Results:
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) – 28 points
2. Artemis Racing (SWE) – 26
3. Oracle Racing Spithill/James Spithill (USA) – 26
4. Aleph (FRA) – 17
5. China Team (CHN) – 16
6. Oracle Racing Coutts/Russell Coutts (USA) – 15
7. Energy Team (FRA) – 12
8. Team Korea (KOR) – 12
9. Green Comm (ESP) – 10
ACWS Plymouth Speed Trials
1. Oracle Racing Coutts – 45.35 km/h
2. Emirates Team New Zealand – 43.72
3. Energy Team – 43.48
4. Oracle Racing Spithill – 43.30
5. Artemis Racing – 42.27
6. China Team – 41.66
7. Green Comm Racing – 40.73
8. Aleph – 40.30
9. Team Korea – 39.87
Oracle Racing website