Video: Postcard from America’s Cup
Anticipation was high for a rebound on the San Francisco Bay yesterday for the home team Oracle, sailing in the 5th America’s Cup match race against Emirates Team New Zealand. First team to win 9 races takes the Cup and all the trappings that go with it. Loser takes nothing!
Although the best way to understand match racing, at this level of competition, is to go to the America’s Cup website and watch the races on YouTube (link below), there is still no comparison to seeing it live up close, right in your face, with unprecedented shore side views down on the waterfront.
Race five was a screamer, with winds blowing in a range of 16 to 20 knots and boat speeds capable of going 3 times that fast. As the fog burned off, spectators on shore, near the starting boat could see the 3 minute, 2 minute, and 1 minute yellow warning flags go down before the cannon went off, signaling the start of the race.
Boom! Oracle, the windward boat climbed over the top of team NZ at the start, making it to the first buoy rounding 2 seconds in the lead. With a sprint to the bottom mark, south east of Alcatraz, Oracle was, so far, controlling the race. Fans on shore were going wild when Oracle rounded the 2nd mark and headed back uphill. That’s when the wheels came off! Oracle and the Kiwi’s split tacks at the bottom mark, with Oracle heading for calmer waters behind Alcatraz and the Kiwi’s heading left toward the City shoreline. Oracle realized their tactical error half way up the windward leg after several cross tacks giving team New Zealand clear air and a 300 meters lead. Boo hoo hoo, fans on shore couldn’t believe what they were witnessing, the Black and Red Oracle slipping further and further behind, at one point over 1400 meters in distance. It was enough to make the local crowd cry, watching the possibility of the America’s Cup once, possibly heading back down under, back to Kiwi Land. With 4 races under their belt at the finish, several long minutes later, the crowd knew all the Kiwi’s needed now was 5 more wins to Oracles 10 hopeful, speculative, pie in the sky wins.
After losing the 20 minute race by over one minute at the finish and getting hammered into the ground by skipper Dean Barker, Oracle Captain Jimmy Spithill pulled the teams “provisional card”, Meaning in so many words, we‘ve had enough for one day, we’ll take our chances Thursday for race 6.
Following race 5, Brad Butterworth, a 4-time America’s Cup team winner said it best, “It looks to me like the inmates took over the asylum.” And so it goes, race 6 will come another day, that being Thursday September 12th at 1:15 in the afternoon.
Once again three cheers for Oracle owner Larry Ellison and CEO Russell Coutts for putting together the best, high speed catamaran racing on San Francisco Bay the world has ever seen. They took sailboat, match racing out of the Flintstone era and brought it full speed into the 21st Century.
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