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

 

Emirates Team New Zealand ( Photo by Ian Roman/Audi MedCup)

Emirates Team New Zealand ( Photo by Ian Roman/Audi MedCup)

 

 

Emirates Team New Zealand became the first team ever to win three consecutive MedCup Circuit regattas when they clinched the Portugal Trophy for the TP52 Series today off Portimao, winning by just 1.5 points from Torbjorn Tornqvist’s Artemis.

With wins in Marseille, Cagliari and now Portimao, the Kiwi team, skippered by Dean Barker, now lead the Audi MedCup Circuit by 52 points heading to the final regatta of the season, next month in Carthagena, Murcia Spain.

The GP42 Series saw the first regatta win this season for Caser Endesa (ESP), skippered by Juan Luiz Paez. Their third place today was enough to secure the Portugal Trophy on countback from Roma Mk2 (ITA), but Islas Canarias Puerta Calero (ESP) still lead the Series.

Seventh for Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) to Artemis’ (SWE) disappointing tenth in today’s one and only race was enough for the Kiwi team to prevail, but the final contest was a difficult one to call throughout with a streaky 5-9 knots of sea breeze mixed with some north westerly gradient wind, especially towards the windward mark.

With a 1.5 points lead in the regatta Artemis, missing tactician Paul Cayard (USA) for the final day, could only make a modest opening at the pin end of the start line, while Bigamist 7, the Portuguese entry lead to the windward mark.

On the first downwind the Russian pair Valars and Synergy mined the left, inshore line and passed the Portuguese team with the Synergy winning from Valars, the first time the two Russians have taken the top two places.

The key move for Emirates Team New Zealand was on the second beat when they were able to halt the recovery of Artemis, tacking on top of them and bouncing them above the lay line, but even down the final run the breeze looked shaky, ready to shift or collapse at any minute.

Relief, once again, rather than elation was the mood among the hard working New Zealand outfit. As the time limit expired at 1600hrs and with it the chances of a second race, general satisfaction with another job well done was evident. The steely, professional face drops when the champagne comes on board, and they are getting rather used to it.

With Artemis in second for the regatta, Terry Hutchinson’s Quantum Racing finished in third, just 1.5 points ahead of Bigamist 7, who finished fourth overall for the third time this season.

Emirates Team New Zealand lead the Audi MedCup Circuit, 52 points astern are Matador (ARG) on 170.5 points but only five points behind them are Quantum Racing, third, and Artemis, fourth, both on 175.5 points.

Winning skipper Dean Barker (NZL) commented that throughout the regatta they had never felt like they were sailing as well as last month’s win in Sardinia, confirming that they still have plenty to work on before Carthagena, Murcia, a venue which proved extremely challenging last year.

CEO and mast-man Grant Dalton (NZL), agreed:
“We are relieved. It was a pretty tough regatta. I think we identified that as soon as we got here, that this was going to be tough, and I think we also identified Artemis as the boat which could beat us. And it felt that all the way. So we are just pleased to have got through another one really.”

He continued: “It’s a big lead now, but we know what can happen, you can still sail badly, it changes pretty quickly. There are always improvements to be made and we made plenty of mistakes in this regatta.”

GP42 Series: Endesa wins the battle

Today’s single race in the GP42 Series was never easy to predict, as the lead changed several times depending on who was where on the shift cycle, the game of tactical chess, and lanes of leftover pressure in the dying seabreeze.

Caser-Endesa (ESP), for example, seemed to have a horrid start, late on the line by three lengths and having to tack early to port. But that move may have been fortuitous, as a right shift on the first beat got them right back into the game. That very same shift benefited Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP) even more, as they vaulted beyond the tacking duels into a commanding lead at the top mark, one that would never be challenged except by Roma 2 (ITA) on the final fluky run into the finish.

And Roma’s runner-up finish was remarkable in itself, as they were no better than last around the first top mark, redeemed only by having split from the pack to the left on the second beat to vault into second.

Caser-Endesa’s two victories to Roma’s one wins them the Portugal Trophy, but Islas Canarias Puerto Calero’s win gets them tied up in the war for the lead in the overall GP42 Series. With one event left, Roma 2 and the Kids from Canarias are now tied on 82 points, making for a final showdown at Stage 5 in Cartagena.

“We think for the excitement of the circuit, this is a really good scenario,”
says Daniel Calero (ESP), owner of Islas Canarias Puerto Calero. “But it means the pressure will really be on in Cartagena!”

Audi MedCup Circuit 2009
Portugal Trophy

TP52 Series
Overall – Final
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 2+3+6+3+1+3+7= 25 points
2. Artemis (SWE), 3+4+2+2+4+1,5+10= 26,5 points
3. Quantum Racing (USA), 1+1+4+8+3+6+6= 29 points
4. Bigamist (POR), 5+5+1+1+8+7,5+3= 30,5 points
5. Bribón (ESP), 6+2+3+7+8+10,5+5= 40,5 points

GP42 Series
Overall – Final
1. Caser Endesa (ESP), 3+1+3+2+1+3= 13 points 
2. Roma (ITA), 2+2+2+1+4+2= 13 points
3. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), 1+3+1+5+5+1= 16 points
4. Turismo Madrid (ESP), 4+5+4+3+2+5= 23 points
5. Airis (ITA), 5+4+5+4+3+4= 25 points
 
Audi MedCup Circuit 2009
Overall (4 events)

TP52 Series
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 38+27,5+28+25= 118,5 points
2. Matador (ARG), 36+47,5+42,5+44,5= 170,5 points
3. Quantum Racing (USA), 40+41,5+65+29= 175,5 points
4. Artemis (SWE), 37+62,5+49,5+26,5= 175,5 points
5. Bigamist (POR), 46+55,5+57+30,5= 189 points
…   

GP42 Series
1. Islas Canarias Puerto Calero (ESP), 20+23+23+16= 82 points
2. Roma (ITA), 22+17+30+13= 82 points
3. Caser-Endesa (ESP), 33+27+26+13= 99 points
4. Airis (ITA), 21+38+28+25= 112 points
5. Turismo Madrid (ESP), 35+35+43+23= 136 points