EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND SECOND AS AC40’S LIGHT UP VILANOVA I L A GELTRU
Emirates Team New Zealand finished second at the first Preliminary Regatta in Vilanova i La Geltrú on a dynamic final day of the regatta.
Finally, after two days of challenging conditions, the weather played ball.
A few more knots of breeze and the fleet of AC40’s lit up the sparkling waters off Vilanova i La Geltrú.The sailors were smiling, the shore crew ready, the local spectators filled the race village, the Ribes Roges beach front and the racecourse boundary.
Emirates Team New Zealand Trimmer Andy Maloney was eager to put on a good show, “It is really nice to finally have some decent breeze after a couple of disrupted days. We are very keen to nail a few good races and get into the final match race.”
The Race Committee managed to roll through three exciting fleet races where the kiwi team helmed by Olympic gold medal winning duo Peter Burling and Nathan Outteridge qualified for the winner take all match race final with NYYC American Magic who sailed fast and consistently all day.
With the weather having been the main protagonist of the weekend, it decided to make its mark one more time as the match race final pre start saw both boats off the foils and starting the race in displacement mode. The time limit clicked over without the either the American or kiwi boat reaching the top mark.
NYYC American Magic win the regatta having topped the fleet race points standings by just 1 point.
Emirates Team New Zealand Helmsman Nathan Outteridge had mixed emotions, “ I think today we definitely saw some really good racing. As soon as you get eight, nine knots of wind, the boats come alive and the racing is super tight and super close, so it's a big future for the class.”
But, “It was really frustrating, I thought we were sailing in general quite well and had two good starts to good races, but ultimately in the final fleet race we made an error in the gybe and fell off the foil and handed that win to American Magic. We did a good job to fight back into second place, but ultimately that was the one point they took to top the leader board which was the regatta after we couldn’t get the match race in.”
OFFICIAL AMERICA’S CUP RACE REPORTS:
Race 3 –
Life comes down to a few moments. Sport comes down to execution and with podium places up for grabs, the chance of making this afternoon’s Match Race Grand Final is in each team’s hands with all to play for. With an east-south-easterly breeze of 10-12 knots, the Race Committee initiated Course 6, calling for a six-leg course and dialled into the start sequence bang on time. Huge importance was placed on the midfield to make a statement in the opening race and off the line, NYYC American Magic and Emirates Team New Zealand started at the starboard end of the line and came off with pace to establish an early order.
Overnight leader Orient Express Racing Team opted for a port tack start, ducked the fleet and hit the right boundary. Initially though the advantage was with Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison on Magic up the middle of the course whilst Emirates Team New Zealand tacked off and played the right boundary. As the two front-runners converged for the first time, Goodison slammed a tack on the face of the Kiwis who calmly dialled away immediately to port tack and back out to the boundary. On the next cross, the crucial moment of the race happened. Peter Burling in the starboard helm on Te Kakahi closed the gap with great pace on starboard tack and when Goodison came back across, to repeat the slam of before, the Kiwis got beneath the Americans, dialled in their high mode and forced the Americans away.
Crucially, at that moment, and with the high mode engaged the Kiwis squeezed up on to the layline to the port windward marker buoy and whilst NYYC American Magic were forced to do two more tacks to round the starboard marker buoy, the Kiwis were off and building an insurmountable lead. Alinghi Red Bull Racing, who had sailed a super-solid beat, rounded in second to chase the Kiwis off the port marker but all eyes were on the downwind speed of American Magic to see if they could close the gap.
Down the run, the Kiwis just kept it smooth and after gybing on the left boundary, came across to cover the Americans but with a lead out at 140 metres, the best front-runners in the Cup just kept on extending. An unremarkable second beat where the Kiwis maintained a watching cover over the fleet as American Magic opted for the middle early after the port buoy rounding at the leeward gate, saw Emirates Team New Zealand again extend.
Behind, the big battle was between Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and Alinghi Red Bull Racing who had a thrilling battle behind the front two boats. The second downwind leg saw the wind drop a knot or two and suddenly it was the teams that could adapt their mode and trim to the conditions that benefitted. At the second leeward gate, a brilliant tight gybe around the mark saw the Swiss stay ahead of Luna Rossa but by the top of the second beat, Luna Rossa was in touch and on their transom. After a rounding at the starboard gate, at the midway point, Emirates Team New Zealand were in a league of their own, stretching away relentlessly and headed up the final beat on leg five again with a loose cover on Magic but crucially with the ability to sail their own race. Rounding the final mark with a massive lead, the Kiwis made no mistake and flew down the final run to take a dominant first win on the final day. Luna Rossa eked ahead of Alinghi Red Bull Racing on the final beat and held down the run. The points are getting close for those top two spots.
Race 4 – Easy to tell the tale of this race as being won at the start and whilst that may be true, it belies the sheer brilliance of a remarkable race executed by Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison on NYYC American Magic.
With the fleet all bunched up at the starboard end of the start line, at the lead back in it was all about time-on-distance and finding a gap on a very crowded start line. Luna Rossa broke early to the pin end, whilst American Magic and Emirates Team New Zealand came in at pace mid-line with the Americans judging it to perfection and forcing the Kiwis off to windward.
Alinghi Red Bull Racing had started just to windward of the middle line gaggle and held a commanding starboard tack position. Nathan Outteridge was forced to duck the stern of the Swiss as they came back on port tack and quickly the Kiwis were finding no easy lanes and turbulent airflow. A slam-dunk tack on their face by Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli again pushed the Kiwis off to the right of the course and suddenly they were behind Orient Express and struggling.
The crucial second half of the beat, saw the Americans extend into a handy lead where they could dictate their destiny. The fleet settled with Alinghi Red Bull Racing in second enjoying another big tussle with Luna Rossa but this time determined to execute and stay ahead.
At the windward mark, five boats rounded the starboard gate at pace and it was a magnificent sight as the AC40s headed out to the left boundary (looking down the course) before a fast gybe and back to the middle of the course. American Magic were smoothness personified, simply making no mistakes and over the next two legs it was all about consistency through the manoeuvres and just keeping a watching brief on the fleet. Tacks were smooth, there was no panic onboard and suddenly we saw the might of the Americans when they got ahead. Easy front-runners, they looked imperious and by the final windward mark had extended into an enormous lead that was never going to be closed.
The big battle behind on the final beat was again between the Swiss and the Italians but Maxime Bachelin and Arnaud Psarofaghis proved beyond doubt that they have serious talent, keeping ahead and deploying match-race style tactics relentlessly covering the Italians.
Another huge battle ensued behind with Emirates Team New Zealand desperate to get past Quentin Delapierre and Kevin Peponnet on Orient Express and in the final throws of the last beat, were forced to duck t
he French on port but crucially, with their super-high mode deployed, eked around the starboard windward gate, hit the left-hand boundary downwind and squeezed ahead.
Every point matters in this series but what this race proved was that passing lanes are almost non-existent and it’s all about boat positioning in key, crucial moments. USA took the win by distance, Alinghi Red Bull Racing secured a brilliant second, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in third and Emirates Team New Zealand in fourth. All to play for in the final fleet race.
Race 5 – All action in the starting box area for Race 5 and for Alinghi Red Bull Racing it was a huge disappointment to have a hydraulic issue that precluded them from starting. Luna Rossa gained a boundary penalty in the countdown as they, Orient Express and INEOS Britannia all opted for a port tack start and set up at the port end.
Spotting this, Emirates Team New Zealand reached down the line on starboard tack in clear air and put serious pressure on the port tackers to keep clear. Meanwhile NYYC American Magic came in at the windward starboard end of the line, also with clear air to start and then tacked across with the port tackers to take the right-hand boundary. The Kiwis stayed left, and flew out to the boundary and when the fleet came together, it was clear that they had established an important lead that gave them control of the race. With the breeze dropping, it was all about minimising manoeuvres and the fleet crossed the course.
Short-tacking was suicide. By the top mark, Emirates Team New Zealand had only executed four tacks as they elected the starboard marker to round whilst USA came in fast on the port marker and it looked very much like that would be that. The fleet headed off downwind and it was vanilla stuff but everything changed on the final gybe to the starboard layline with Emirates Team New Zealand getting it all wrong on the transition through a gybe from port to starboard, splashing down and opening the door for the fleet to pass. Tom Slingsby and Paul Goodison took every advantage and seized a lead that they would just relentlessly build from there. Emirates Team New Zealand got foiling again and now the chase was on to secure their position in the Match-Race final.
Thoughts of winning were disappearing fast in the distance with the Americans able to sail their own race and looking incredibly smooth, so Pete Burling and Nathan Outteridge concentrated on the fast-charging Orient Express Racing Team and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.
The Italians held the ace cards but made a fatal mistake up the third and final beat as they slammed a slow-tack on the face of the Kiwis and in their down-speed mode allowed Orient Express to file to windward and hold the Italians out to the left-hand boundary. Emirates Team New Zealand tacked away over to the right side of the course and by the time Orient Express and Luna Rossa came back on port tack, Emirates Team New Zealand were flying on the layline to the port marker buoy and squeezed under both the French and Italians. Brilliant sailing from Pete Burling who headed off down the run on the right side although a heart-in-mouth moment occurred on the first gybe with the Kiwis almost falling off their foils. They held it. Just. And at the finish it was NYYC American Magic by a distance who topped the series, followed by Emirates Team New Zealand with Orient Express Racing Team in third.