Oracle Team USA captured its second win of the America’s Cup Saturday in a race that included a near capsizing of Team New Zealand.
Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill crossed the finish line 52 seconds ahead of the Kiwis in the only race of the day.
Team USA won Race 8. Race 9 was abandoned midway through due to high winds. .
“Today, to come from behind on the upwind leg, was a big boost for the guys,” said Spithill. “The design team, the engineering team, the shore team, all worked very, very hard yesterday and they were rewarded with the win. It’s exactly what we needed. We’re going to work all night again, and we’ll come out tomorrow ready to try to step it up once more.”
It was just the second victory of the series for the Americans, who have now erased the two-point penalty it was assessed for cheating.
“It’s the first time upwind we felt really competitive,” said Oracle tactician Tom Slingsby. “Our tacks were better, we felt like we were sailing the shifts a bit better, and obviously the speed was better. We made a couple changes to the boat yesterday, and they seem to have been good steps. We’re really encouraged.”
Team New Zealand leads 6-0 in the best to 9 series.
That is where the racing will stand until Sunday after the second race of the day was canceled mid-race after winds topped the allowed limit. It was a close race a the time is was called with team neck and neck.
Sunday's racing will begin at 1:15 p.m. with similar wind conditions.
The most heart-stopping moment in Saturday's regatta came as the Kiwis nearly capsized.
“We’re all good; disappointed to let the lead go,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker. “They got nicely out of phase and chipped away. We didn't get the hydraulics and if the wing doesn't tack when the boat does, you're in trouble... Fortunately the boat came up and no collision with the other guys.”
It happened as Team New Zealand was attempting to tack upwind. The 131-foot wing sail didn't pop the right way and the 72-foot catamaran began to tip over, with its starboard hull hanging in the air for several seconds before splashing back down safely to the water.
Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill did a great job of steering clear of Team New Zealand, avoiding a collision.
The wind was expected to be an issue for Race 2. It got off to a clean start, but was called off mid-race.
Thousands of New Zealanders swarmed the waterfront to cheer on their boys. Even with Oracle's win early Saturday, the Kiwis need just three more wins to take the Cup out of the hands of CEO Larry Ellison.
"We all want to win the thing massively and bring it back to New Zealand. It's been a huge driver for the whole team,'' said Team New Zealand crewmember Glenn Ashby. "We've been amazed by the support of not only the New Zealanders, but by a lot of the Americans as well, getting behind us, which is fantastic.''
34th America’s Cup Standings (first to 9 points wins)
- Emirates Team New Zealand – 6
- ORACLE TEAM USA – 0
Race 8 Performance Data
- Course: 5 Legs/10.16 nautical miles
- Elapsed Time: OTUSA – 23:09, ETNZ – 24:01
- Delta: OTUSA +:52
- Total distance sailed: OTUSA – 11.4 NM, ETNZ – 11.7 NM
- Average Speed: OTUSA – 29.90 knots (34 mph), ETNZ – 29.32 knots (34 mph)
- Top Speed: OTUSA – 44.58 knots (51 mph), ETNZ – 47.02 knots (54 mph)
- Windspeed: Average – 16.6 knots, Peak – 19.6 knots
- Number of Tacks/Jibes: OTUSA – 8/8, ETNZ – 9/7