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35th America's Cup: Spithill and Oracle Team Usa get on track with win

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35th America's Cup: Spithill and Oracle Team Usa get on track with win
35th America's Cup: Spithill and Oracle Team Usa get on track with win


After five days of improvements to hardware and sailing technique, ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill and his team set off for the race course on Saturday afternoon confident of improvements that would close a speed gap with Emirates Team New Zealand.

It worked. Both races featured lead changes and ORACLE TEAM USA earned its first win of the series.

“We’ve taken advantage of every minute we could this week to make improvements,” Spithill said. “We saw these guys take days off during the week, but we made a commitment to use every single one of them to make the boat faster… And we’re not done. There’s more on the table.”

After racing, as Spithill promised, the team returned the Great Sound for more testing after a short break for the press conference and to make some adjustments and changes to the boat.

Conditions were better for racing than forecast on Saturday afternoon, with wind in the 9-12 knot range, from the southwest. But there were shifts and patches of light breeze on the race course, giving opportunities for tactical passes.

The new and improved “17” was clearly faster and more competitive with the Kiwi boat. In fact, Emirates Team New Zealand needed two penalty calls to go against Spithill to take the win in the first race of the day.

“We’re frustrated with the penalty,” Spithill said at the post race press conference. “We feel like these guys have been given a few soft penalties. We had one in the first race in the Qualifiers against us; they should have got a penalty at the top mark. You saw it in the Artemis race when the Umpires admitted they made a mistake. It seems like they’re getting a few soft ones from the Umpires.”

In the second contest, sailing a clean, back and forth race, Spithill and tactician Tom Slingsby engineered the final pass near the top of the race course and held on for win, closing the scoreline to 4-1.

Racing continues on today afternoon.

35th America's Cup: Oracle Team Usa
35th America's Cup: Oracle Team Usa

America’s Cup Match – Race Five Report

In the pre-start to race five, both boats were early back to the line with time to kill. Spithill, set up to windward, put his bow down to accelerate just a fraction early and was judged early to the start, ceding a penalty and rounding mark one three seconds behind.

At the first gate, the gap was still close, with ORACLE TEAM USA following Emirates Team New Zealand around the mark just five seconds back.

An early tack on the first upwind put Spithill and Slingsby to the right and when both boats tacked to converge, ORACLE TEAM USA made a pass on the dial-down, switching sides.

The next cross saw an aggressive dial-down by the starboard tack Team New Zealand. Although Spithill kept clear, the Umpires assessed a penalty – the second of the match against the American defender – and after ORACLE TEAM USA paid off the distance penalty, the Kiwis had sped off to a winning margin to take a 4-0 lead in the series.

Crew list for Race Five:
Skipper / Helmsman -- Jimmy Spithill
Wing Trimmer -- Kyle Langford
Tactician / Grinder -- Tom Slingsby
Grinder -- Louis Sinclair
Grinder -- Kinley Fowler
Grinder -- Ky Hurst

America’s Cup Match – Race Six Report

A similar start to race five, with Spithill and ORACLE TEAM USA positioned to windward but this time, a perfect timed push to the line allowed the American defender to reach mark one first with a four-second lead. By the windward gate the lead was six-seconds and the Kiwis followed ORACLE TEAM USA through the gate before tacking early to the right side of the race course. At the first cross on the upwind, Spithill had extended enough to cross ahead of the Kiwi boat. Near the top of the course, it was still very close, with a split at the gate and a 12-second lead to Spithill.

Halfway down the run, the Kiwis picked up a nice vein of wind and made a big gain, passing the Americans who were forced into an extra gybe. Spithill followed through the gate, six-seconds behind, and the New Zealanders took up a controlling position, covering the American boat upwind.

Spithill broke away halfway up the beat but it came at the cost of an extra tack. Near the top, he found the favorable shift he needed and faced a dial down on the cross. By switching sides, ORACLE TEAM USA came back with the starboard advantage on the final cross and dialed-down New Zealand. Spithill forced a slow rounding on the New Zealand boat and made a pass early on the run.

There were two quick gybes to get around the last mark – a massive ask of the grinders at the end of the second race. But they faced up to the challenge and sped away to the finish for the first win of the series.

The score at the end of Saturday is 4-1. ORACLE TEAM USA is back on track.

Crew list for Race Six:
Skipper / Helmsman -- Jimmy Spithill
Wing Trimmer -- Kyle Langford
Tactician / Grinder -- Tom Slingsby
Grinder -- Cooper Dressler
Grinder -- Kinley Fowler
Grinder -- Graeme Spence

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