One way traffic
This was not the close and exciting Americas Cup Final everyone was hoping for. At least so far. It was men against boys, Chelsea v Charlton. In fact even that analogy doesn’t do justice to how dominate Team Emirates New Zealand were over Team Oracle this past weekend.
Four races, two Saturday, two Sunday, and four comprehensive wins for the Kiwi challengers. Where Jimmy Spithill and Team Oracle go now, who knows.
Spithill and Team Oracle came back once before, big, four years ago in San Francisco, and the only crumb of comfort for the Aussie skipper is that the point they won from winning the qualifiers here, means they trail 3-0 and not 4-0, but Team Oracle is in a hole and four more wins for Peter Burling and his crew means that Emirates will snuffle the oldest trophy in world sports, put in it’s own Louis Vuitton case and ship it back to the Southern Hemisphere.
Oracle now have five days to find a formula to nullify the Kiwis, whose innovative boat design, complete with longer kinked foils and their newfangled cycling arrangement has them streets ahead. It is simple, at least to me, that the Team Emirates boat is quicker, and once it gets in front, Spithill and Team Oracle have no way to catch it.
I was there on Saturday and errors by Oracle in both races proved costly. In the first race Oracle were handed a penalty for crossing the start line a second early. From then on the Kiwis punished the defenders and opened up a comfortable lead of almost two minutes by the fifth gate. A slack looking manoeuvre by Burling almost let Spithill back into the race late on, and although the Americans did close the gap, the race was won.
The second race was closer but by the fourth mark, Emirates New Zealand had built an unassailable lead of over a minute and a half. However, in the most exciting moment of the day, Oracle dramatically cut that lead to just three seconds as they approached the fifth mark, but to groans from the crowd, the Oracle boat came unsteadily off it’s foils and handed the advantage, which Spithill had incredibly reduced, back to New Zealand and Burling drove the boat home to win.
Yesterday Spithill vowed to come out fighting but his crew were soon on the ropes in race 3 when after a close start, a small mistake was to prove pivotal as a poor jibe by Oracle saw the American boat make a small splashdown into the water resulting in a loss of momentum that they were then unable to claw back.
Race 4 was faultless from both teams, but the sheer speed of Emirates Team New Zealand was enough to beat Team Oracle for the 4th consecutive time giving the Kiwi’s not only a big lead but a huge psychological advantage, particularly as NZ started this weekend on -1 point.
Next Saturday sees races 5 and 6 in the best of 13.