PxPixel
The Cup Begins at Last! - Sail Magazine

The Cup Begins at Last!

After months of waiting, Oracle USA and Emirates Team New Zealand are finally providing the kind of racing Larry Ellison promised so very long ago.
Author:
Publish date:
Web-story-lead-photo

After months of waiting, Oracle USA and Emirates Team New Zealand are finally providing the kind of racing Larry Ellison promised so very long ago.

On the downside, his defending team looks to be in some trouble, despite the fact they’ve made the Kiwis finally have to work for their victories. But then again, if there’s anybody out there with enough talent and guts to pull off what at this point would have to be one of the great upsets in America’s Cup history, it’s Oracle USA skipper Jimmy Spithill.

Granted he’s without his No. 1 wing trimmer, thanks to the penalty his team incurred for cheating during the America’s Cup World Series. Granted, he has to win two victories to even get back to zero thanks to that same ruling. But on Sunday he did something no other skipper has been able to do thus far in the 34th Cup—beat Emirates Team New Zealand and skipper Dean Barker.

And now that he’s done it once, who’s to say he won’t be able to do it again, with regularity even.

The competition this past weekend started off with a close-quarters starting sequence, and the intensity level remained at a fever pitch throughout. The delta at the first bear-away in the first race was mere seconds, and in contrast to every other race thus far this summer, it was the same when the two boats reached the leeward mark only a few short minutes later.

After that, Cup fans had a chance to enjoy something else they had yet to see this summer—not one but two passes on the subsequent windward leg, as Oracle first overtook ETNZ, and then the Kiwis regained their lead. Ultimately, it was ETNZ by about 30 seconds at the finish, but it was clear this series not going to be another shellacking like that experienced by Artemis and the Luna Rossa.

The second race also started close, but superior boathandling on the windward leg—basically the Kiwis came out of each of tack much faster than Oracle—allowed ETNZ to establish a lead that it then stretched out to a delta of nearly a minute at the finish. Still, the tens of thousands of fan who came down to the waterfront to watch the show could finally go away feeling like they’d seen some real racing. To see the first two races, click here

The day, although foggy, saw the racing heat up right away in a stiff breeze, with Oracle not only rounding the bear-away mark in first place, but putting a penalty on ETNZ in the process. In the end it was once again ETNZ finishing in first, thanks to superior boat speed on the part of the Kiwis upwind, but there was now no doubt Jimmy Spithill is far from convinced his opponent was invincible. There was also plenty of close-quarters action early on—luffing attacks, tacking duels, spectacular boathandling—of the kind fans have been waiting for all summer, and which truly rivals that of America’s Cups past. Anybody who wasn’t excited by the 34th America’s at this point, simply wasn’t paying attention.

Finally, it was time for race number four. Once again, it was Oracle making it to the first bear-away mark ahead, after taking ETNZ up dramatically to windward, and this time Spithill was not to be denied.

At the leeward mark it was still Oracle in the lead despite a lousy jibe immediately before the rounding, followed by a nail-biter of a windward leg, with the two boats often sailing within mere feet of one another. After that came a second downwind leg with the Kiwis drawing ever closer, slowly chipping away at the 16-second delta at the top mark, followed by what was literally a drag race to the finish, with thousands race fans waiting at the finish. To see all of races 3 and 4, click here “It was huge, huge,” Spithill said afterward of his team’s first victory. “It’s good to see the team under some serious pressure, especially after the first race. We had the lead, we let it slip away. A lesser team probably would’ve crumbled in the fourth race. It feels good to shift momentum over to us.”

The next two races are scheduled to take place this Tuesday. I for one can hardly wait.

Related

01_silken_2018-03-08-0052

North U’s Regatta Experience Program

“Want to check the keel?” North U Coach Geoff Becker calls to me from back by the transom. We’ve just suffered our worst finish in the regatta and are absolutely flying on our way back to shore, spinnaker up and heeling at an angle that feels like maybe we’re tempting fate. ...read more

Navy-Sand-Dune_1080

Tucket Footwear’s Giller Shoes

Just for KicksMove over Crocs, there’s a new plastic shoe in town. Unlike the aforementioned fashion crimes, Tucket Footwear’s Giller shoes are made for boating. Water will get in, yes, but it will also run straight out again via rows of “scuppers” in the uppers and a dozen drain ...read more

01-m3113_git170829-294

France’s Maxi-tri Ultime class

It’s hard to believe how far foiling has come since the Moth class figured out how to reliably take to the air in the early 2000s.Was it really only in 2013 that the America’s Cup was dragged kicking and screaming into the foiling world by Emirates Team New Zealand back in San ...read more

GGTobagoCays

Cruising: Guadeloupe to Grenada

Our Dream Yacht Charter delivery started as a “wouldn’t it be fun if” idea. Those are usually misguided, if not downright stupid. But a Bali 4.3 named Jumelles (French for “twins,” appropriately) needed to leave Guadeloupe to do heavier charter work in Grenada, and as soon as I ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comWhen I bought my boat it had 18 through-hull fittings. To reduce the number of holes in the hull (I ultimately cut them by half), I first re-plumbed the drain hoses from my sinks, scuppers, bilge pumps and ...read more

rokk

Scanstrut: ROKK Charge+

It RokksWith the increasing use of smartphones and tablets for in-cockpit navigation comes the issue of keeping these devices charged, since running nav software will drain those batteries in no time. Scanstrut has come to the rescue with the ROKK Charge+, the first-ever ...read more

GreenCove2-2048

Liveaboard Voting Rights Threatened in Florida

Bucking decades of precedent, a Florida elections officer is refusing to allow customers of a popular mail forwarding service to register to vote in his county. Since 1988, St. Brendan’s Isle of Green Cove Springs in Clay County has provided transient Americans with mail ...read more

shutterstock_55353433

A Lifetime of Sailing

I began my sailing life as a kid in an 8ft El Toro and a 16ft Snipe on Lake Millerton in California’s San Joaquin Valley. I am concluding it as an 80-something in a Rhodes 19 on Lake Damariscotta on the coast of Maine. So what does this have to do with the hardy, oceangoing ...read more