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

 

 

victoireFC-20131210

 

For the second year running, a first since the creation of this title awarded by the French Sailing Federation for the past 12 years, Franck Cammas, the skipper of Groupama, has been voted Sailor of the Year.

Up against the winner of the Vendée Globe, who was the favourite to take the award, the skipper of Groupama won it by a fairly large majority after a particularly impressive 2013 season. French Champion of Match Racing, Offshore Racing and Olympic Sailing, not to mention a victory in the Tour de France à la Voile and the World C-Class Championship, Franck and his Groupama sailing team have once again made a clean sweep of the prizes.And yet, once again, the competition for this title was formidable:
– Francois Gabart, winner of the Vendée Globe
– Yann Eliès, double winner of the Solitaire du Figaro
– Billy Besson and Marie Riou, World Nacra 17 Champions
– Antoine Albeau, World Windsurfing Champion
– Bruno Jourdren, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont-Vicary, World Disabled Sonar Champions.

But there we have it, as some were saying last night, ultimately, when there’s a competition, it’s always Cammas who wins! Questioned after the results were declared, the skipper of Groupama gave his verdict with the familiar simplicity we have become accustomed to during what will soon be 17 years:”It’s a massive surprise because in my view there are sailors here who have incredible achievements this year. This award comes as the result of a great deal of work and a team which is firmly in place. We have proven how quickly we can respond to switching from offshore racing to disciplines that are completely new to us. I hope that we will go further as we’ve witnessed some very, very fine images, which thrilled us all a few weeks ago in San Francisco. We’ve seen that the French were in a position to secure what is the toughest trophy in the world to win. We would very much like them all with us in the same team and show that in France, we too can do incredible things on the international stage.

Sailor of the year 2013, Franck came close to securing another win for his team as the Groupama Research Department was nominated in the category for “Prix de la haute technologie” (High Technology Prize) awarded by the French Nautical Industries Federation, for the remarkable performance put up by Groupama C, winner of the Little America’s Cup back in September. In the end though it was the French engineers and researchers from Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup
who took the prize.

Despite all that, hearty congratulations go to the superb team made up of Loïc Dorez, Pierre Tissier, Olivier Mainguy, Stéphane Chatel, Marine Villard, Martin Fisher, Gautier Sergent, Denis Glehen, Benjamin Muyl and Guillaume Verdier.Congratulations also extend to all the crew members who have sailed with Franck this year:
Sophie de Turckheim, Louis Viat, Tanguy Cariou, Erwan Israël, Fabien Henry, Arnaud Jarlegan, Devan Le Bihan, Malo Bessec, Matthieu di Russo, Christophe André, Stéphane Guilbaud, Julien Villion, Maxime Paul, Charles Caudrelier, Yann Riou and Guillaume Le Tuaud.

See you in 2014 for a year that, in sporting terms, will doubtless be extremely busy.