AC World Series Venice - Oracle Team USA Spithill holds 4-point lead

Oracle Team USA Spithill - Finals
In the America’s Cup World Series Venice, Oracle Team USA Spithill finished on the podium in both the fleet and match racing championships and now holds a 4-point lead in the 2011-12 ACWS Season Championship heading into next month’s final event.

Skipper Jimmy Spithill and his four-man crew – John Kostecki, Kyle Langford, Joe Newton and Brad Webb – was the only team to make the podium in both disciplines. They finished second in the fleet racing and third in the match racing at the regatta that tested their resolve. After the first day of racing the crew was seventh in the standings.

20-05-2012 / Venice (ITA) / 34th America's Cup / ACWS Venice / ORACLE TEAM USA / Finals*** 20-05-2012 / Venice (ITA) / 34th America's Cup / ACWS Venice / ORACLE TEAM USA / Finals

'It wasn’t our best regatta, but in some ways it was a fantastic test for the team,' Spithill said. 'It wasn't my plan to go out and start this regatta on the back foot, but I enjoyed seeing the team under a bit of pressure and was very happy to see our guys working away to turn it around. So I’m very happy.'

Heading into next month’s regatta in Newport, R.I., USA, which will conclude the 2011-12 season Oracle Team USA Spithill leads the standings with 84 points, four points ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand. Third-placed Artemis Racing of Sweden has 71 points.

'That tastes very, very good,' Spithill said. 'We always wanted to go into last event having a shot at winning, and we helped ourselves today. It’s still open going into Newport, but we have a good team behind us and a fantastic shore team. We’ll come out fighting and are looking forward to Newport.'

20-05-2012 / Venice (ITA) / 34th America's Cup / ACWS Venice / ORACLE TEAM USA / Finals*** 20-05-2012 / Venice (ITA) / 34th America's Cup / ACWS Venice / ORACLE TEAM USA / Finals

Today’s 12-leg race was sailed again on the Grand Canal. Oracle Team USA Spithill was slow off the line and trailed in seventh at the first reach mark.

The light winds, however, prevented the leaders from increasing their advantage. Oracle Team USA Spithill worked down the shoreline on the run and moved into second by the next turning mark. From there they were never really challenged as the fleet became spread out in the light winds.

Kostecki, the tactician, pointed to the crew performing better on the downwind legs as a key factor in placing second in today’s finale. France’s Energy Team won the race by just nine seconds over Spithill, after leading by some 10 minutes at one point.

20-05-2012 / Venice (ITA) / 34th America's Cup / ACWS Venice / ORACLE TEAM USA / Finals*** 20-05-2012 / Venice (ITA) / 34th America's Cup / ACWS Venice / ORACLE TEAM USA / Finals

'The key moment was the downwind sailing,' Kostecki said. 'Energy Team and ourselves excelled on that first run and just got away from the pack. Our technique in the jibing was excellent. There were tactical moves that were nice and it all came together. We sailed well.'

'It was a different race today, probably the lightest we’ve sailed,' Spithill said. 'For a while I thought Loïck (Peyron, Energy Team) was gone, but the boys did a good job pulling us back up.

'I really think over the past two days our downwind technique has improved, and we’ve improved by watching Loïck and Energy Team,' Spithill continued. 'We think he’s been the fastest all week. It was a fantastic result for Energy Team, I’m happy for them.'

Oracle Team USA Bundock had a good start today and was in good position around the first reach mark, but on the long first downwind leg got tangled up with the fleet on the first, long downwind leg and settled into fifth place. Unfortunately for the crew, they were too far behind the leaders and were among five boats that didn’t complete the course when the time limit expired.

ACWS – Newport, the final regatta of the 2011-12 season, is scheduled June 28-July 1 in Newport, R.I., home to the Cup for 50 years.

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