DOUBLE DOWN DAY 2
The cobwebs have been well and truly blown off after a spectacular first day of racing for Emirates Team New Zealand. Day two race schedule for Emirates Team New Zealand saw a back-to-back battle with INEOS Team UK, which arguably had already started at last night’s press conference.
Racing back on the favoured racecourse C with a 11-15 knot NNW breeze wrapping around Rangitoto, more chop from the outgoing tide today added to the challenge for the teams, dealing with a light shifty breeze – where time in pressure and up on the foils or slow in the water would be the deciding factors.
RACE 6: Emirates Team New Zealand vs INEOS TEAM UK
It didn’t take long for some pre-start action to spark up, with Emirates Team New Zealand making their final approach to the start line, deep in the start box, before tacking to line up on the gun with a port tack start, with INEOS Team UK and Sir Ben Ainslie on starboard tack taking aim at Te Rehutai. An aggressive dial down by Ainslie saw Peter Burling reacting with a dip behind the British boat, then getting a clean run to build speed and start the race.
Both boats were initially bow to bow, as Emirates Team New Zealand sailed out to the right-hand boundary, tacking back onto starboard, then lining up a long tack out to the opposite boundary layline, before setting up a subsequent tack right on the face of the British boat in a textbook match racing move.
The crew of Emirates Team New Zealand were focused on settling down and minimising mistakes for the remainder of the race, despite some drama at the top mark, with Burling coming eyebrow raisingly close the rounding mark, narrowly avoiding it thanks to the urgent direction of trimmer Glenn Ashby on the leeward side.
By the 3rd mark Emirates Team New Zealand had carved out a 0:45 second lead, which continued to grow except for a bad gybe coming into the 4th mark gate, losing grip with their rudder and spectacularly crashing off the foils having sailed cleanly up to that point.
“We made a mistake and made life hard for ourselves at that bottom mark.” said Burling.
Composure was quickly restored slowly rounding the mark, then popping back on the foils and heading back up wind only dropping 5 seconds as a result. The final lap was about focusing on a clean lap, eventually beating the British by 1:32.
“Not our most polished performance but happy with the win.” Was a simple summary of helmsman Peter Burling.
RACE 8: INEOS TEAM UK vs Emirates Team New Zealand
A race of two halves in Emirates Team New Zealand’s second race of the day. The first half of this battle was full of drama and lead changes, the second more of a procession.
It all kicked off early in the pre-start, with Ainslie getting the better of Emirates Team New Zealand. Peter Burling was forced into a bad gybe in the last-minute, coinciding with a big left-hand shift, which left them parked and off their foils taking what seemed like a lifetime to get up and going, chasing INEOS Team UK who were now 400 metres ahead.
Peter Burling explained, “It was poor execution by me in that gybe, I thought we could get around, but I didn’t give the boys enough time to pull it off. The start box is incredibly small so we had to do some less than conventional manoeuvres, but that’s all part of it.”
The deficit off the line was not insignificant but by the time INEOS had reached the top mark a good chunk of it had been carved off, with Burling and crew rounding the 1st mark 0:12 seconds behind.
Moments later Te Rehutai was back in the lead when the two boats converged for the first downwind cross. Duelling at over forty knots, the next time the boats converged INEOS had snuck back ahead coming back on starboard, but their lead was short lived, as Emirates Team New Zealand rounded the bottom mark just 0:04 seconds ahead. Three lead changes on one downwind leg destroyed any notion that the 36th Americas Cup wouldn’t involve close boat-on-boat action and is the type of racing the crowds lining the harbour had come to see.
Both boats were bow to bow on the 2nd upwind until the first cross, where the kiwis managed to cross on port and ease their nose in front, settling into their groove and extending around the remained of the course to finish 1:42 ahead of INEOS TEAM UK.
A satisfactory day, but not a great day according to Peter Burling, “I wouldn’t go that far... We didn’t sail as cleanly as we did in our first race yesterday, but we had plenty of good learning from today. It's really good to be out here running through systems and processes, but I guess we showed the boat is going fast, so we are happy enough.”
Tomorrow is the final day of the PRADA ACWS Auckland, with Emirates Team New Zealand now tied on points with American Magic, who they will take on in their first race tomorrow before the final match against Luna Rossa. With close combat, lead changes and aggressive pre-starts, the winner of this regatta will be the team that puts it all together and wins both races on the final day.