Fisher's View: Match Racing decided in America's Cup World Series

San Diego America’s Cup World Series - Racing Day 4 - Match Race Finals

Bob Fisher, one of the worlds top international yachting journalists, and certainly the top writer on the America's Cup, is in San Diego for the Third round of the America's Cup World Series.

Bob is a multihuller from way back, having competed for Britain in the Little America's Cup and has been covering the America's Cup since 1967.

He writes:

Dear Diary – Day 6 - America's Cup World Series - San Diego, California, USA

Match racing Finals Saturday

There was a lot of money being placed in the morning on the Energy Team from France as it had shown great speed in the fleet racing. Only the known potential of Jimmy Spithill as a match racer would stand in the way of the French multihull specialists. And so it was to prove – that little extra expertise in the close combat arena was the defining talent to give the America’s Cup defenders the San Diego Match Racing Championship.

:
19/11/2011- San Diego (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - San Diego America's Cup World Series - Racing Day 4 - Match Race Finals

Jimmy Spithill went for the windward side of the first start but Yann Guichard came to the line with a perfectly timed start and led to the first four marks, but on the second windward leg a big split gave Spithill in Oracle Racing 4 an opportunity to close. As they approached the windward mark for the final time, Spithill, who had taken the right hand side, came in on starboard tack and dialled down on the French boat, causing them to tack away from the gate. It was a classic match racing move and gave the lead to Oracle Racing 4. Spithill held a nine second lead to the finish – close!

'It was very tricky, the wind was very shifty,' said Guichard, 'I made a big mistake on the upwind leg and that let them in.' Spithill agreed: 'We hoped for that and latched on to it quickly.'

19/11/2011- San Diego (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - San Diego America's Cup World Series - Racing Day 4 - Match Race Finals

In the second race, Oracle Racing 4 made a perfectly timed start at the leeward end and went ahead but in the lightest wind of the day thus far (4-5 knots) the boats were close as they went through the leeward gate and Spithill was forced to cover Guichard tack for tack and rounded the top gate with a 13 second lead. Downwind the French crew were to leeward and forward, but Oracle Racing 4 stretched her lead to 20 seconds at the leeward gate. From there Spithill and his talented crew left no doubt about their superiority, finishing 1:09 in front.

19/11/2011- San Diego (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - San Diego America's Cup World Series - Racing Day 4 - Match Race Finals

Third and fourth place race
Artemis out-flanked by ETNZ in the pre-start trailed the Kiwis across the line and round the first two marks. On the first beat there was an intense tacking duel with the boat speed dropping to around four knots, but Dean Barker remained in control throughout and won by 39 seconds.

34th America’s Cup - San Diego America’s Cup World Series - Racing Day 4 - Match Race Finals

Fifth and sixth place race
Aleph attempted to impose a penalty on Oracle Racing 5 but failed. Pierre Pennec did start to windward of Darren Bundock and was able to roll the American boat and lead around the first two marks and proceeded to sail away on every leg of the course to win by 48 seconds.

19/11/2011- San Diego (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - San Diego America's Cup World Series - Racing Day 4 - Match Race Finals

Seventh and eighth place race
Team Korea penalised in the pre-start had to trail Green Comm for the first half of the two-round course, but when Green Comm went to the left gate at the end of the run and then sailed up the left side of the second windward leg, while Chris Draper took Team Korea the other way in slightly more breeze. When both tacked, Draper on starboard just crossed Vasilij Zbogar on port and the lead changed. Draper made no mistakes and stayed in front to cross the finish 18 seconds ahead.

Oracle Racing 4 will be trying for the elusive double in the winner-take-all fleet Championship race. No team has yet been able to manage that.