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America’s Cup 2013 : Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA Win Race 16

America’s Cup 2013 : Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA Win Race 16 After Delayed Start : Battle With Emirates Team New Zealand Will Resume Tomorrow.

On Sunday Emirates Team New Zealand (TNZ) came to race, hoping to take just one more win to bring back the America’s Cup again to New Zealand. Once the racing started however, Oracle Team USA (Oracle) came out of the box very aggressively, threw the dice and sailed with tactical brilliance throughout to prevail in both races with a boat that seemed to excel for the first time in very light breezes, to the surprise of everyone. So they ended on Sunday down in the series only 8-7 to TNZ on the water, not counting a 2 race penalty against them imposed for pre-season rules violations.

Now it is Monday, and a new day, and TNZ came back again to try and get the job done- still with a single race victory needed to win the Cup. Flushed with their recent string of four in a row victories, and the self belief that goes with it, Oracle were just as determined to stop them. And so they did; the start was delayed 30 minutes to wait for enough wind to fill the race course, then when it did Oracle had another very good start and led from start to finish to win the race and level the series 8 wins each out on the water. Oracle are then docked 2 races as a penalty for pre-season rules violations though, so to win the series TNZ only need to win 1 more race but Oracle need to win three.

It was another dramatic day out on the race course again, so please read the full story in the race report below and enjoy.

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 Crowds of supporters milling around for the America’s Cup showdown / Balasz Gardi

Race Report : Race 16

Today marks the longest ever running America’s Cup series.

After losing both races on Sunday TNZ were not too down beat:

“Yes, we’re fast enough to win this, ” said TNZ skipper Dean Barker. “With that we have to sail well. We let ourselves down today on both first downwinds. It was hard where we started in both races. We were behind at Mark 1 both times and gave up too much distance on the downwinds. The boys worked hard and made gains upwind, but it was never quite enough to put pressure on Oracle.

“It’s right there for the taking, we just have to put a solid race together, ” said Barker. “We didn’t do as good a job as what we expected today. We’re not down, we know we can win this thing, we just have to go out tomorrow and do a much better job.”

The very happy, and no doubt somewhat relieved, Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill for his part said on Sunday too “All in all, a fantastic job by the team” …“We got off the line well in both races, Ben (Ainslie, tactician) and Tom (Slingsby, strategist) made some high-pressure decisions, and in terms of physicality it was one of the toughest days out there given how up and down the wind range was. The boys on the handles (the grinders) dug in and were rewarded.”

“Foiling upwind is a decision between me, Tom and Jimmy a bit, and it’s got to do with wind pressure, ” said Ainslie. “If we see that we have good pressure and a good shift we’re happy to go in that mode. Today a bit in the second race we had good pressure and were happy to go fast the way we were going. It’s important to do it at the right time. If you do it at the wrong time on the outside of a shift or a header you can lose as much as you’d possibly gain.”

 

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Oracle Team USA take evasive action on Sunday to avoid a collision even though they hold starboard tack – and win a penalty

Oracle have now won four races in a row coming in to today’s race, each time facing down sudden death if they didn’t make it. And as they come out again to compete again today they remain in the same situation, 8-7 down on the water and with an additional two race penalty on top for pre-season rules violations. One more win and TNZ still take home the Cup.

But Oracle seem to be thriving under the threat of imminent execution – it certainly can focus the mind wonderfully it seems. As sailing legend Russell Coutts, the CEO of the whole Oracle team enterprise, said about it in an interview a few days ago: “these guys are fighting for survival, this is their livelihood”. Elemental; true, and fabulous to watch: hunter-gathering during the stone age must have been equally exhilarating at times, hunting down woolly mammoths and saber toothed tigers.

Now two hours before the first race today is scheduled, the forecast is for light breezes initially freshening later. Race Director Iain Murray said: “We’ve got varying forecasts” … “The lower end is 9-10 knots (10.5-11.5 miles an hour) at the start up to 14 knots (16 miles an hour) at the finish, and maybe 18 knots (22 miles an hour) towards the end of what would be the second race. It’s a promising day, just a matter of whether it gets going early enough.”

So after a delay to wait for a bit better wind the boats are finally out on the water and it is just fifteen minutes before the first race of the day now scheduled to begin at 1.45 pm – and remember if TNZ win this one it will also be the the last race of the series. The sun is shining, thousands of people are out on the banks of the bay watching, the wind is light and there is a flood tide today, but the race will take place.

 

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Emirates Team New Zealand figuring out their plan of attack / Gilles Martin Raget

At the two minute point winds are 12.5 miles an hour so just enough wind to get around the course, and both yachts enter into the pre-start box to try and outfox each other by the start, when the count down is zero and the all-clear is sounded. TNZ have raised their Code 0 asymmetrical headsail to help them in the light airs but Oracle has elected not to.

1 minute to go, and there is a very moderate 1 mile an hour flood tide to help carry them down the bay once they get going. Both boats manoeuvring excruciatingly slowly at close quarters to position themselves in these light airs. And we are sailing… Oracle are off in front and lead around the mark! Now they again build up a 175 metre lead fairly rapidly just as they did yesterday.

Half way down the course now they have passed Alcatraz island and the breeze is starting to come up quickly; who will get the advantage first as Oracle stay 146 metres in front and go through the second mark to head back upwind. Can they stay on their foils or will they roll out the Code 0? The lead falls to 100 metres as TNZ got over closer to Alcatraz first but now Oracle do too so will pull out their lead again.

Oracle now 130 metres in front as they tack away from the island again. A long haul up wind for both boats now; will Oracle make a mistake and let TNZ back into the game? still a 150 metre gap presently so at the moment there is nothing in it. But Oracle have to win this race or they have lost the Cup and of course they know it.

Both boats now short tacking up the left shore line and with Oracle in front they can cover any moves made by TNZ – always a big advantage to being in front. Still 150 metres in it as both boats are going about the same speed and TNZ are just trying to chip away at their opponents lead. And we have lost the live video feed for a moment, but here it comes back again with all the footage from the helicopter cameras – we are sure spoilt by all this media technology these days; no more peering through binoculars to try and figure out what is going on. The bottom line though is no change, still just 165 metres in it.

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What the f••• is going on guys, we are behind them again…./ Gilles Martin Raget


The third mark comes into view now but its still a bit of a slog to get there; if Oracle go around in front they should have a good chance again to bring the boat home downwind in front and win another race. One more tack each to get there, which will actually be easier for Oracle who are further over on the course at the moment. From the on-board radio we can hear that Oracle will also do an extra tack at the end just like yesterday to take them over towards the Alcatraz side was they come around and head down wind. Oracle go through first with a reduced lead but now will again speed up again quickly; right up on their foils they go and speed off. TNZ are foiling too but what is the lead – now 230 metres – in front for Oracle, so that extra tack has worked well for them again. Credit tactician Ben Ainslie for that I should think.

Both boats have to keep the wind and try to avoid flat spots on the water which will slow them down. They are both going 36 miles an hour now with Oracle just 150 metres in front. They both gybe away from the island in synch to leave the flat airs close to the island behind them. These guys must have eyes like hawks.

TNZ make a new gybe again before the Americans, who are content to stay blocking them from the mark and hold their lead at 175 metres – not nearly enough to guarantee a win but better than being behind. A whole retinue of small boats following behind like gold fish trailing a couple of sharks. Oracle now 240 metres in front with just two more gybes to go so if Oracle can stay up on their foils they will keep their lead intact. The final mark is now coming up and Oracle are well placed to gybe around and reach for the finish, which they do perfectly. TNZ go around as well 21 seconds later.

 

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Nespressso the coffee people must be very happy sponsors with so much exposure from this racing series/ Gilles Martin Raget

And Oracle reach across to the finish at Pier 27 and win the race 16 by 33 seconds. Because of the delayed start that will be the only race today so now the score is 8-8 on the water, with Oracle also penalized with an additional two race penalty incurred due to a pre-season rules violations. Amazing – Jim Spithill said he could do it and he has done it; they are now even on the race course and Oracle has now won the last five races in a row. We will race again tomorrow and see what’s going to happen next!

Coming off the boat Jim Spithill said Oracle had the momentum now, so lets keep going; he wanted to rush out again and have a second race, but it indeed timed out and won’t happen. He mentioned that they had another great start too, which set them up to win the race.

So another day another race, and tomorrow Tuesday September 24th there will be races 17 & 18 with the first race scheduled for 1.15 pm Pacific Time. The forecast is for good weather and for steady winds in the right direction for good sailing on this coast hugging race course, where tens of thousands of people have been lining the shores to watch each of the races. Now its getting so close those crowds are only going to increase substantially, I should think.

The race schedule and plenty more is on the official America’s Cup web site www.americascup.com and we will be here covering Tuesday’s racing, so please come back and share with us. Remember – Emirates Team New Zealand still need just one more victory to take home the America’s Cup. Oracle Team USA now need three victories to successfully defend the Cup. A few days ago just about everybody thought the series was already done and dusted; Oracle has now very much proved us all wrong, at least so far.

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Oracle bring the boat home victorious on Sunday to their cheering supporters, and they did it again today too / Guilain Grenier

 

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