New Zealand Goes Up 4 to 2 in Playoffs

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Photo credit Ricardo Pinto

Racing was close all Sunday, but the Kiwi’s slight advantage in boatspeed proved decisive in the end

For a brief moment on Sunday, Artemis had it tied up 2 – 2 with Emirates Team New Zealand on the second day of the America’s Cup challenger playoffs finals after the team took the first race of the day. By the end of racing, though, ETNZ had jumped ahead to a commanding 4 – 1 lead in the first-to-five series, meaning Team Artemis has its back to the wall going into the final day of the challenger playoffs later this afternoon.

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Conditions were moderate but variable throughout the day. There was also lots of close racing, with plenty of covering, luffing and other match-racing going on from beginning to end. Finally, as has been the case from the beginning of this 35th AC Cup cycle, a single mistake in the form of a bad tack or gybe would sometimes mean the difference between victory and defeat.

That said, as has also been the case since the outset of this series, the Kiwis seemed to have slightly better boatspeed throughout, especially sailing to windward. And all other things being equal, over time in the America’s Cup, victory typically goes to the fastest.

“We were really happy to walk away from the day 4 – 2 up,” said ETNZ helmsman Peter Burling. “To get our boat around the track in the way we did and to take those couple of wins is full credit to the whole team, and what they’re willing to give to get the job done here.”

“We probably gave everyone a heart attack at that last mark there,” Burling added, referring to the way the Kiwis dropped off their foils near the end of the final race of the day, allowing Artemis to catch up again. “But the way the boys ground the board down, it’s full credit to the bikes and the design we have to get the power to get it down and hold on to the lead.”

And that pretty much sums it up: in the challenger playoffs we seem to have to equally experienced skillful teams giving it all they can. But in the end ETNZ has just a touch more boatspeed, which in turn provides it with a bit of a cushion if and when it makes any mistakes—something Artemis lacks.

Of course, the beautiful thing about sailboat racing, it that nothing is for certain, and a right or wrong tack, or the wrong choice of foils could still make this anybody’s series.

That said, Artemis needs to win three straight today if it’s going to proceed to the Actual America’s Cup against Defender Oracle Team USA, which begins on Saturday, while ETNZ only needs to win one. Of course, if memory serves, ETNZ has been in this kind of a situation before…

For a complete schedule, visit https://www.americascup.com/en/ac35-schedule.html.

June 2017

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