Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo © George Bekris)

 

In a thrilling winner-take-all final race, Emirates Team New Zealand unhooked itself from a starting buoy to win the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series New York with the high score of 52 points.

Another large crowd, estimated at 100,000, turned out on a sunny day and was treated to some very unpredictable racing. This after over 75,000 came out on Saturday.

Watch a recap here

 

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

No lead was ever safe on Sunday as the wind shifted through wide arcs from the west to the north and ranged anywhere from 5 to 20 knots.

“It was one of those series where everyone had good luck and bad luck, but we got our good luck at the end of the regatta,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby. “It was exciting and crazy at the same time. Today it was important to keep your cool and stay focused.”

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

The Kiwi crew, led by Ashby and World Sailor of the year and Red Bull Youth America’s Cup champion helmsman Peter Burling, was literally dead in the water at the start of Race 3. Crewman Blair Tuke had to jump in the water to unhook the starting buoy’s anchor line from the catamaran’s rudder. Making matters worse, the port hull was punctured by the buoy and water was leaking into the hull throughout the race.

“We saw the buoy coming at us with about 20 seconds to go,” said Ashby. “It wasn’t ideal but we were lucky in the end.”

 

The Kiwi crew’s luck came full circle on the next-to-last leg. They rounded the last windward mark in fifth place, about 42 seconds behind leading SoftBank Team Japan. But as all the crews began the downwind leg they sailed into a patch of no wind that engulfed the course.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

As the leg was perpendicular to the southerly flowing current, some of the crews were being swept over the course boundary. Land Rover BAR, Groupama Team France and SoftBank Team Japan all were penalized for crossing the boundary in the current.

The Kiwis, further behind, held in the middle of the course and when the wind filled in the Kiwis took off on their hydrofoils at 16 to 20 knots boatspeed, leaving the rest of the fleet gasping in disbelief.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

At one point during the final race ORACLE TEAM USA looked to be in position to win. Skipper Jimmy Spithill and crew won the start and led around the first two mark roundings. But Dean Barker’s SoftBank Team Japan grabbed the lead by working the right side of the course while ORACLE TEAM USA struggled on the right side. In the end the reigning America’s Cup champion placed second in the race and second for the series.

“The crowd was insane,” said Spithill. “Today was great for the fans. In these conditions you have to roll with the punches and keep fighting. We wanted to win but we’ll take the second place. The Kiwis got a Hail Mary there at the end, but you have to take your hat off to them and congratulate them.”

Third went to Franck Cammas’ Groupama Team France, winner of Race 2. SoftBank Team Japan placed fourth, Land Rover BAR fifth and Artemis Racing sixth.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

Illustrating just how challenging the day was on the short, confined racecourse, Nathan Outteridge’s crew won the first race going away but was then sixth in Races 2 and 3.

“We got a little bit of luck in the first race and managed to hold on, but we had some terrible moments in the last two races…” said Outteridge. “You can’t get people to come watch sailing if you don’t bring it to them. That’s what we’ve done here. When the America’s Cup is in Bermuda next year, in super high-tech boats, we’ll get some amazing racing.”

The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series now moves onto Chicago, June 10-12. After that it heads to Europe for events in the U.K. in July and France in September.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series New York Final Standings

1. Emirates Team New Zealand – 52 points
2. ORACLE TEAM USA – 50 points
3. Groupama Team France – 44 points
4. SoftBank Team Japan – 42 points
5. Land Rover BAR – 42 points
6. Artemis Racing – 40 points

 

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Overall Standings
(After six events)

1. Emirates Team New Zealand – 244 points
2. ORACLE TEAM USA – 236 points
3. Land Rover BAR – 227 points
4. SoftBank Team Japan – 203 points
5. Artemis Racing – 201 points
6. Groupama Team France – 194 points

 

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

 

America's Cup World Series New York

Photo © George Bekris

(Photo © George Bekris)

 

A crowd estimated in excess of 75,000 spectators lined the shoreline of Battery Park City throughout the course of the day on Saturday to watch the return of America’s Cup racing to New York for the first time in nearly 100 years.

The America’s Cup teams worked overtime to reward them and with the window for racing about to close, conditions began to improve and allowed the teams to put on a late show.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill noted how the “entire foreshore was packed from Tribeca down to Battery Park City. This is the largest crowd I’ve ever seen at a Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series regatta and I hope they come back tomorrow.

“Tomorrow’s the day. It’s going to be windy and these boats are going to be right on the edge. The conditions are setting up to be epic.”

Regatta Director Iain Murray postponed today’s regular racing at 3:20 pm ET when the predicted southeasterly wind failed to materialize on time. The teams bring the athletes and equipment, but Mother Nature determines the playing conditions and today she held out until the last minute.

But Murray was eventually able to bank a “substitute race” during an extended race window to the delight of the fans on site.

SoftBank Team Japan © ACEA 2016 / Photo Sean T. Smith

SoftBank Team Japan © ACEA 2016 / Photo Sean T. Smith

Dean Barker led SoftBank Team Japan to its first victory at a Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series regatta in the substitute contest. Should racing be postponed tomorrow, the “substitute race” will slot in and count on the leaderboard.

“It was great we were able to get a race after waiting patiently all day,” said Barker. “The upwind leg was very short because we were sailing with the current and the downwind leg was long because we were sailing into it. The wind wasn’t strong enough to fly a hull, but all in all it was quite a good race.”

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

Earlier, Murray had attempted to start racing on three different occasions, but the light wind conditions, less than 5 knots, coupled with a strong southerly flowing current prevented each opportunity.

 

“Today was a tricky day because we were waiting for the wind to swing around to the southeast,” explained Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby. “It did later in the day but only after the window for regular racing had expired.”

Based on the forecast for “epic” conditions, the substitute race is unlikely to be included in the overall standings. Blustery northwest winds between 17 and 24 knots are expected to build in the wake of a cold front scheduled to pass over the region tomorrow morning.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

Three races are planned beginning at 2:00 pm. Each race will be a double-points race, meaning 1st place earns 20 points, 2nd place 18 points, 3rd place 16 points and so on.

The upper wind limit is 25 knots over a 5-minute average, but that shouldn’t be a factor.

“Some locations are trickier to get racing than others,” Ashby said. “Seeing the amount of people on the edge of the water, there’s obviously plenty of interest in the sport. If we get the wind we have in the forecast tomorrow, we’ll really be able to show what the boats can do.”

Super Sunday is on tap tomorrow. Three races are scheduled for Sunday with each scored double points. Racing begins at 2 pm ET. Viewers in the United States can watch live on NBCSN and NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA. For complete broadcast info, click HERE.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris