Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

Sled won the second race of the day at the Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week while regatta and circuit leaders Quantum Racing completed a disappointing day scoring a sixth then eighth. But over a day that saw more ups and downs for the majority of the teams, Doug DeVos’s crew still leads the regatta by four points just as they did this morning.

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

Sled, Azzurra and Onda all started from the committee boat end of the line but Sled had enough speed to work the middle left before crossing to the right. Their key move was finding a nice lift on the right to bring them up towards the starboard layline. A short hitch and Takashi Okura’s team led around the top mark ahead of Azzurra, with Platoon second and Onda third.

Sled hung on to win comfortably with Azzurra second but once more Platoon just pipped Onda at the finish line to make it a better day for last year’s world champions, Platoon going 3,3 for the day, Onda 4,4. Quantum Racing lead on 29pts, Azzurra are second on 33pts, and three boats, Platoon, Phoenix and Luna Rossa, are all on 34pts.

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

For full results, visit: http://bit.ly/2MznlZR
To watch the race again, visit http://bit.ly/2e6o3tR.

State-of-the-art boat tracking technology will allow 52 SUPER SERIES fans to follow their favourite teams at the Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week. Streaming is available via the 52 SUPER SERIES App, and is paired with expert commentary both on and off the water. All shows start 15-minutes before racing is due to start.

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

Sled won the second race of the day at the Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week while regatta and circuit leaders Quantum Racing completed a disappointing day scoring a sixth then eighth. But over a day that saw more ups and downs for the majority of the teams, Doug DeVos’s crew still leads the regatta by four points just as they did this morning.

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

Sled, Azzurra and Onda all started from the committee boat end of the line but Sled had enough speed to work the middle left before crossing to the right. Their key move was finding a nice lift on the right to bring them up towards the starboard layline. A short hitch and Takashi Okura’s team led around the top mark ahead of Azzurra, with Platoon second and Onda third.

Sled hung on to win comfortably with Azzurra second but once more Platoon just pipped Onda at the finish line to make it a better day for last year’s world champions, Platoon going 3,3 for the day, Onda 4,4. Quantum Racing lead on 29pts, Azzurra are second on 33pts, and three boats, Platoon, Phoenix and Luna Rossa, are all on 34pts.

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

For full results, visit: http://bit.ly/2MznlZR
To watch the race again, visit http://bit.ly/2e6o3tR.

State-of-the-art boat tracking technology will allow 52 SUPER SERIES fans to follow their favourite teams at the Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week. Streaming is available via the 52 SUPER SERIES App, and is paired with expert commentary both on and off the water. All shows start 15-minutes before racing is due to start.

 

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

Puerto Portals 52 SUPER SERIES (Photo © Max Ranchi)

Quantum Racing - TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi  www.MaxRanchi.com )

Quantum Racing – TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi www.MaxRanchi.com )

 

(Wednesday 23rd May, Sibenik) – From the high tension and great expectations that prevailed amongst the crews of the 12 TP52s, who contested an exciting first day of the 2018 52 SUPER SERIES, it is three-time champions, Quantum Racing who emerge with the tiniest possible lead at the Sibenik 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week in Croatia.

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi  www.MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi www.MaxRanchi.com )

With nine shiny, brand new boats competing on a race arena that is completely new to the 52 SUPER SERIES, the de-facto leading grand prix monohull circuit in the world, it was the Quantum Racing crew, marshalled by afterguard Terry Hutchinson; tactician, Dean Barker; and helm and navigator Ian Moore, that finish the day ahead, but only on countback by virtue of their victory in the second race of the day.

It proved to be a dream start to the season for the Quantum-powered crews as Harm Müller-Spreer’s Platoon mirrored their counterparts’ score with a 1,4 to lie second – on the same points aggregate – and Brazilian Eduardo de Souza Ramos crew on Onda, the third team in the Quantum stable, lie third after a strong opening second and seventh places.

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi  www.MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi www.MaxRanchi.com )

The tactical key to the first race was recognising the wind shift generated on the right side of the course by the effect of an island upwind to the right of the course, and in the second race when there was a thunderstorm lurking out to the right of the course area there was a series of shifts totalling more than 50 degrees from the start.

 

After the Race 1 start, World Champions Platoon took the lead on the first downwind, when early pacemakers Provezza appeared to suffer a technical problem with their kite halyard. Onda, with five-time Olympic medallist Robert Scheidt as tactician, stuck to their pre-start game plan and benefited from their early choice to go right, moving up to second on the downwind behind Platoon. That was the order through the finish line but the last run witnessed several exciting place changes in the 8-10 knot seabreeze, and the finishes behind the runaway top two were some of the closest yet.

 

Quantum Racing’s was the sharpest start of the day when they leapt off the line in the second race, that allowed them to take early control of the right side and by the top mark they were sixty metres, or more, clear of second-placed Gladiator. Once more the top two were able to hold their positions through the finish line – Takashi Okura’s Sled getting third with Platoon fourth.

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi  www.MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi www.MaxRanchi.com )

It proved to be a fascinating opening to the season. The surprise package were Onda who have made significant gains since finishing tenth at PalmaVela, but tactician Scheidt pointed out they had stuck with their game plans, but the hugely experienced Brazilians positioned their boat shrewdly, keeping away from the traffic and any tussles with the top teams. On successive first beats, XIO Hurakan, the Italian team lead by Tomasso Chieffi, were top four, only fading on the second round. So too Gladiator – with Morgan Larson as tactician – proved a new boat is not a pre-requisite to win a podium place. And right now race wins are shared evenly between the Botin (Quantum Racing) and the Vrolijlk (Platoon) design studios.

Harm Müller-Spreer owner-driver of Platoon, emphasises.

“The difference between the two designers’ boats was greater last year. I know we are closer this year in terms of performance. You can win races with either boats. But this is such a long season it is hard to guess what will happen.”

James Lyne, the Quantum coach summarises:

“The conditions were tough and both boats Quantum Racing and Platoon executed one race well. There were some big shifts and so Terry [Hutchinson, Quantum tactician] played that nicely in the second race,” explains the Quantum team coach James Lyne. “The level is higher than ever. There are more coaches, there are more analysts, there are better sailors on board. The level keeps going up.”

Of the first day for Onda, Robert Scheidt, back in the TP52 class for the first time since 2010 said:

“We had a plan. We stuck to our plan, and it worked. Sometimes you can be a little bit lucky and I think we got a nice shift on the first beat and that put us up the front at the top mark of the first race. If you can be in the top three at the first mark you can have your own race, you can use your speed and sail your own race.”

Circuit champions Azzurra, reckoned to be the best prepared team and winners of PalmaVela training regatta in early May did not have the start they wanted. Their opening third was strong enough but they were on the wrong side of the first big shift during the second race and could not recover, resulting in a weighty tenth. So too it was something of a baptism of fire for the Luna Rossa crew, which lies just one place ahead of their training partners Azzurra after a 7,5 start to their campaign.

Regatta standings at the end of Day 1
1. Quantum Racing (USA) (Doug DeVos) (4,1) 5 p.
2. Platoon (GER) (Harm Müller-Spreer) (1,4) 5 p.
3. Onda (BRA) (Eduardo de Souza Ramos) (2,7) 9 p.
4. Luna Rossa (ITA) (Patrizio Bertelli) (7,5) 12 p.
5. Azzurra (ARG/ITA) (Alberto Roemmers) (3,10) 13 p.
6. Gladiator (GBR) (Tony Langley) (10(+2 PEN PTS),2) 14 p.
7. Provezza (TUR) (Ergin Imre) (5,9) 14 p.
8. Phoenix (RSA) (Hasso/Tina Plattner) (8,6) 14 p.
9. Sled (USA) (Takashi Okura) (12,3) 15 p.
10. Alegre (USA/GBR) (Andrés Soriano) (9,8) 17 p.
11. Paprec Recyclage (FRA) (Jean Luc Petithuguenin) (6,12) 18 p.
12. XIO Hurakan (ITA) (Marco Serafini) (11,11) 22p.

For full results, visit: http://bit.ly/2IGhEE1
To watch the race again, visit http://bit.ly/2e6o3tR.

The Sibenik 52 SUPER SERIES Sailing Week will take place from 23-27 May. State-of-the-art live boat tracking technology will allow 52 SUPER SERIES fans to follow their favourite teams. Shows start 15-minutes before racing, and can be enjoyed via the 52 SUPER SERIES homepage – www.52SUPERSERIES.com – or via the app. Never miss a beat.

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi  www.MaxRanchi.com )

TP52 Super Series from Sibenik, Croatia (Photo © Max Ranchi www.MaxRanchi.com )

PRADA Luna Rossa (Photo by ACEA 2013/ Gilles Martin-Raget)

Austrians Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher, double Olympic Gold medalists in the Tornado catamaran, have entered the upcoming America’s Cup World Series Naples, scheduled Apr. 16-21.

The duo will sail under the banner HS Racing and race under the US flag in partnership with ORACLE TEAM USA.

HS Racing is one of nine crews entered in the regatta, which will also feature America’s Cup World Series leader ORACLE TEAM USA, second-placed Luna Rossa Piranha, third-placed Artemis Racing White, J.P. Morgan BAR, Energy Team, Emirates Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa Swordfish and China Team.

Roman Hagara (Photo © Red Bull Content Pool)

“It is a dream come true for us,” said Hagara, 46, whose aim, along with tactician Steinacher and their crew is a top placing at the final event of the 2012-13 AC World Series season.

HS Racing’s crew also includes trimmer Herve Cunningham of France, bowman Graeme Spence of Australia and floater David Swete of New Zealand.

“We trained on the AC45 back in February in San Francisco and felt very good from the start,” said Steinacher, 44. “The boat is extremely difficult to handle at strong winds and it develops unbelievable forces, but we are happy to take on the challenge.”

Hagara and Steinacher were Gold medalists at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics. They are also the sports directors for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, scheduled Sept. 1-4 in San Francisco.

“It’s great to have Roman and Hans-Peter involved,” said ORACLE TEAM USA CEO Russell Coutts. “They aim to be serious competitors and this is a great platform to launch their America’s Cup aspirations.”

Emirates Team New Zealand© ACEA 2013/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

Familiar names are lining up for the final AC World Series event, with sailors such as Dean Barker of Emirates Team New Zealand, Francesco Bruni and Chris Draper of Luna Rossa, Yann Guichard of Energy Team and Tom Slingsby of ORACLE TEAM USA scheduled to compete. Sweden’s Artemis Racing will be helmed by 23-year-old Charlie Ekberg, Sweden’s top 49er sailor and skipper of Artemis Racing/Swedish Youth Challenge for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. The Naples event will also feature the return of Mitch Booth to the helm of China Team, while Ben Ainslie will skipper his J.P. Morgan BAR team.

Team Korea, previously an America’s Cup World Series participant and Louis Vuitton Cup entrant, has withdrawn from further competition in the 34th America’s Cup. In a letter to the Golden Gate Yacht Club, the team indicated it has plans to enter the 35th America’s Cup.

Last year’s AC World Series Naples drew crowds estimated at 500,000, who were there in part to catch the debut of Luna Rossa Challenge 2013. Draper led his Luna Rossa Piranha crew to a thrilling win in the final fleet race. The victory kicked off celebrations among the tens of thousands of Italian America’s Cup fans lining the Naples waterfront to catch a glimpse of their heroes.

The conditions were as varied as any venue on the AC World Series. The fleet race finale was held in light wind and turned into a drifter at the finish. That occurred just two days after big wind and waves saw the AC45s powered up and leaping from the wave tops.

- Naples (ITA) - 34th America's Cup - America's Cup World Series Naples 2012 - Final day (Photo © ACEA 2013/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget)

 

Oracle Team USA Spithill (Photo by George Bekris)

Oracle Team USA Spithill (Photo by George Bekris)

Coutts and Luna Rossa split the Newport Championships
Newport proved to be a statement event for the US defender of the America’s Cup as ORACLE TEAM USA was prominent in all areas of the leaderboard. Jimmy Spithill’s team earned the overall 2011-12 AC World Series Championship with a strong second place finishes in both the match racing and fleet racing in Newport. Spithill also claimed the overall season Fleet Racing Championship while Sweden’s Artemis Racing won the inaugural season’s Match Racing Championship.

“Consistency had been the key,” Spithill said moments before he was handed the newly commissioned AC World Series trophy. “We were the last team to arrive here, but we came out and performed under pressure. For us it was very satisfying to see us step up and the other guys fall back when the pressure came on.”

His veteran stable-mate very nearly stole the day in front of a capacity crowd of spectators at Fort Adams. Russell Coutts won the Newport Match Racing Championship over Spithill and almost took out the fleet race as well, but was denied that honor by Chris Draper’s Luna Rossa Piranha team, who took advantage of a penalty to the Coutts team to grab a lead they would extend to the finish, to grab the Newport Fleet Racing Championship. Coutts was under intense pressure in the latter stages of the race from the Italian Swordfish team, but just held on for second place.

Luna Rossa Team Pirhana celebrate Newport Fleet Racing Win (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

Luna Rossa Team Pirhana celebrate Newport Fleet Racing Win (Photo by Carlo Borlenghi)

“Today just happened to work out for us. We got some nice breaks, but I wouldn’t give us too much credit for it,” Coutts said. “As a team, we’re really happy. Jimmy and his guys won the World Series and that’s what we came here to do… We’re always out there to win, we’re not there to just sail around the buoys – we want to win.”

For Chris Draper, the fleet racing win was a nice turn around after a difficult week: “We’ve had a tough week, the team’s been pretty down, but I’m pleased that both boats did well today. We needed that result to prove to ourselves that we could do it, so we’re happy.”

Terry Hutchinson’s Artemis Racing placed fourth in the Newport Match Racing Championship this week, which earned his team enough points to win the Match Racing title for the season.

“It’s a nice milestone for the team,” Hutchinson said, his mood tempered somewhat by a poor fleet race on Sunday. “But I think we have a lot of work to do. There are a lot of areas we can do better. But we have 14 months to do it and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

The Newport event marks the end of the first season of AC World Series racing and follows previous events in Cascais (POR), Plymouth (UK), San Diego (USA), Naples and Venice (ITA). Regatta Director Iain Murray and his team have conducted 130 races over 30 days of racing in the six international venues. Over the time, only one day of races has been postponed due to weather.

Sunday’s racing was broadcast live, coast to coast, in the USA on NBC, marking the return of the Cup to network television for the first time in more than 20 years. The final day of racing in the opening two events of the 2012-13 AC World Series in San Francisco in August and October will likewise be shown on NBC.

Racing will start anew next month with the 2012-13 AC World Series in San Francisco from August 21-26. The new Ben Ainslie Racing will join the circuit as it comes to the host city of the 34th America’s Cup.

 

Quotes:
Loïck Peyron, skipper, Energy Team, reflection on the season: “After six events and almost one year of racing, we need to improve still in our match racing, but in the fleet racing we are happy to be third overall for the season, which is good. Now, we look forward to the racing in San Francisco in August and October.”

Dean Barker, skipper, Emirates Team New Zealand, on a tough day: “We had a nice start and we’re second at the first mark and then we just blew it. We made a couple of mistakes and fell back to fifth or sixth and from there it was very difficult to fight our way back through.”

Nathan Outteridge, skipper, Team Korea, on his team’s performance: “We didn’t have an ideal start, but we kept moving forward and on the last leg upwind we really nailed it and made up some places. I think we’ve performed better than we were initially hoping. This week I think we sailed the best we’ve sailed the whole time. So we’re really looking forward to San Francisco.”

2011-12 AC World Series Overall Championship Leaderboard
(Team, Match Racing Points, Fleet Racing Points, Total Points)
1. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL…47 – 55 – 102 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand…41 – 52 – 93 points
3. Artemis Racing…50 – 32 – 82 points
4. Energy Team…38 – 36 – 74 points
5. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS…39 – 29 – 68 points
6. Team Korea…33 – 33 – 66 points
7. Luna Rossa Piranha…26 – 26 – 52 points
8. Luna Rossa Swordfish…15 – 16 – 31 points
9. China Team…15 – 16 – 31 points

AC World Series Newport – Fleet Racing Championship Final Results and Standings

Race 1     Race 2     Race 3     Race 4     Race 5     Total Points

Luna Rossa Piranha     3     8     5     5     1     53

ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL     1     1     1     3     5     48

Emirates Team New Zealand     6     2     3     1     6     40

Team Korea     8     6     2     4     4     36

Luna Rossa Swordfish     7     5     6     6     3     35

ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS     2     7     8     8     2     33

Artemis Racing     4     3     4     7     7     32

Energy Team     5     4     7     2     8     30

AC World Series Newport Match Racing Championships – Standings
1. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS
2. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL
3. Luna Rossa Piranha
4. Artemis Racing
5. Energy Team
6. Emirates Team New Zealand
7. Luna Rossa Swordfish
8. Team Korea

 For More George Bekris America’s Cup World Series Action Photos click HERE

Helicopter Over AC45 (Photo by George Bekris)

Helicopter Over AC45 (Photo by George Bekris)

Newport, Rhode Island, USA, 30/06/2012

Emirates Team New Zealand win race four to break US winning streak

Jimmy Spithill’s ORACLE TEAM USA continues to impress in Newport, but were denied a fourth consecutive fleet race win by a hard-charging Emirates Team New Zealand.

“We had a good solid day,” Barker said. “It’s nice to win one and we have some good momentum going into tomorrow. The ORACLE TEAM USA guys are sailing well, but we’ll do what we can do and if we can win the race we’ll be happy.”

Newport delivered another perfect afternoon of racing conditions, with a sea breeze near 15 knots under sunny skies. Thousands took advantage of the warm afternoon to enjoy the sight from Fort Adams as well as in the hundreds of spectator boats crowding the Narragansett Bay course boundaries.

In fleet race three, Spithill threaded the needle at the start, barely squeezing between the Race Committee boat and two of his competitors, hitting the starting line as the gun fired at top speed.

“It was a risky start, but in this type of racing you really have to push things now and then,” Spithill said. “We knew if we got off the starting line well we’d have a shot for being top three in the race, so we’ve been pushing hard.”

From there, Spithill extended away while his rivals were engaged in battle behind him. Young Nathan Outteridge and his Team Korea crew had an impressive race in second place, holding off Emirates Team New Zealand, as Dean Barker threatened early, but couldn’t make the passing move and settled for third. Artemis Racing made its way up from near the back of the fleet to take fourth.

Fleet race four started like the previous one, with Spithill barging across the starting line to take an early lead. But this time Dean Barker’s crew had an answer on the first upwind leg, working a favorable path up the shoreline, away from the adverse current running down the race course, to take steal the lead. Loïck Peyron’s Energy Team too, passed Spithill and then Nathan Outteridge squeezed by on the next leg. But the ORACLE TEAM USA crew fought back to ease around the top mark just behind the Kiwis. Barker and crew held their position however all the way to the finish, with Spithill relegated to third, his worst result of the series.

With a second and a fourth place finish, Nathan Outteridge’s Team Korea climbed off the bottom of the leaderboard and now sits just two points out of a podium position.

“It was much better today,” Outteridge said. “I think we got what we deserved. We had some better starts and gave ourselves a chance in both races. There was a bit more breeze so we were really able to be more physical on the boat. The guys on our boat are awesome when the breeze is up, there’s never an issue with the crew work on our boat. Today has given us a good chance to get right in there and if we sail like we did today, we have every chance of getting on the podium and that’s what we’re here for.”

Meanwhile ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS withdrew from the first race of the day at the halfway point with equipment problems, after hitting one of the turning mark boats.

 

“I never did like the anchors on those boats,” Coutts joked. “But at least the hull that I was sitting on missed it!”

Coutts went in for repairs, and although he made it out for race four, he was late to start and never in contention, with the last place finish dropping the team to the bottom of the leaderboard.

Before racing started, the teams engaged in the AC500 Speed Trial. Here too, Spithill proved the class of the fleet, his second run setting the standard ahead of Energy Team and Team Korea.

Racing starts at 1430 on Sunday with the final of the Newport Match Racing Championship between the two ORACLE TEAM USA crews.

“It’s a high-pressure race,” Spithill joked. “For whoever loses, it’s going to be brutal!!”

Then it’s the fifth and final fleet race to determine the Newport Fleet Racing Champion as well as the overall 2011-12 AC World Series Championship. There are 30 points on offer to the winner of race five, meaning the Newport fleet racing title is wide open.

Sunday’s racing program is live, coast to coast in the United States on NBC, beginning at 1430. This means it will not be shown live on YouTube.com/americascup in the United States. However, the race replay and highlights will be posted after the live broadcast has concluded.

AC World Series Newport – Fleet Racing Championship Results

Race 1     Race 2     Race 3     Race 4     Race 5     Total Points

ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL     1     1     1     3           38

Emirates Team New Zealand     6     2     3     1           32

Energy Team     5     4     7     2           26

Artemis Racing     4     3     4     7           26

Team Korea     8     6     2     4           24

Luna Rossa Piranha     3     8     5     5           23

Luna Rossa Swordfish     7     5     6     6           20

ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS     2     7     8     8           13

AC500 Speed Trial

1. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL – 24.77 knots
2. Energy Team – 24.00 knots
3. Team Korea – 23.79 knots
4. Artemis Racing – 23.72 knots
5. Luna Rossa Swordfish – 23.59 knots
6. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS – 23.54 knots
7. Luna Rossa Piranha – 23.48 knots
8. Emirates Team New Zealand – 23.17 knots

AC World Series Newport Match Racing Championships – Standings

The top two teams will race in the Final on Sunday
3. Luna Rossa Piranha
4. Artemis Racing
5. Energy Team
6. Emirates Team New Zealand
7. Luna Rossa Swordfish
8. Team Korea

2011-12 AC World Series Overall Championship Leaderboard (after five of six events)

1. ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill…84 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand…80 points
3. Artemis Racing…71 points
4. Energy Team…65 points
5. Team Korea…56 points
6. ORACLE TEAM USA Coutts…53 points
7. Luna Rossa Piranha…34 points
8. China Team…31 points
9. Luna Rossa Swordfish…21 points

 More Images by George Bekris HERE

Team Emirates New Zealand Going Over (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Emirates New Zealand Going Over (Photo by George Bekris)

 

The cheers for ORACLE TEAM USA began at the first turning mark today and continued through the end-of-day birthday celebration for team skipper Jimmy Spithill, who turned 33 years old.

Spithill and crew won the opening fleet race, followed moments later by Russell Coutts and crew in second. Afterwards, both crews won their quarterfinal matches 2-1 to advance to tomorrow’s semifinal round of the match racing championship.

The first day of ACWS – Newport could hardly have gone better for ORACLE TEAM USA.

“I think we’ve really got to credit Philippe Presti (coach) and our support guys,” said Spithill, whose crew is aiming to wrap up the inaugural ACWS season championship this weekend. “The sailmakers have put some work in and Philippe has put in a lot of energy to step up as we go through.”

The fleet race began as scheduled at noon but the winds were light and patchy. On some portions of the racecourse the southwesterly seabreeze was filling, but other portions were in windless zones as the new breeze worked its way up the East Passage of Narragansett Bay.

Spithill and crew nailed the start perfectly at the windward end and led the fleet at the first turning mark to great applause from the estimated 5,000 or so spectators lining the shoreline of Fort Adams State Park.

Spithill led all the way around the race track to secure the win even though the crew’s one-time comfortable advantage was whittled to mere lengths approaching the finish.

“We got a good jump at the start, but the breeze didn’t quite settle,” said Spithill. “There were a lot of passing lanes and a little bit of stop and go. But I thought JK (John Kostecki, tactician) did a really good job to get us through the mine fields. We were constantly turning our heads, but it was a good one to get under the belt.”

For ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS, the start was the helmsman’s first live ACWS action since last September. Coutts admits to a bit of rust in his game, but he staged a furious rally to come from last place at the first leeward gate to second at the finish. Coutts worked the right side of the racecourse up the beat and found a fresh puff of wind that allowed him to overtake many of the competitors to the left of him.

“We were behind and kept plugging away,” said Coutts. “The situation developed nicely, but we chose some nice places to tack, too. We got a few breaks today and a bit of luck to find our way.”

In the match racing, Spithill and crew downed Team Korea (Nathan Outteridge) and Coutts’ crew defeated Luna Rossa Swordfish (Paul Campbell-James). Both ORACLE TEAM USA crews showed good form in the deciding third race, sailing away from their rivals to ensure advancing to the semis.

Tomorrow Spithill will face Artemis Racing and Coutts will sail Luna Rossa Piranha. Each match is a best-of-three, with the winners moving on to Sunday’s match racing championship.

“I haven’t raced these boats since September, so we’re just plugging away,” said Coutts. “I want to try and get a better result for Boat 5 this week, that’s the objective. We started OK in match racing today, but personally I didn’t have a great day. I made a lot of mistakes. It’s just a lack of match fitness.”

Spithill gets a shot at Artemis Racing and skipper Terry Hutchinson, who are leading the overall match racing championship for the season. Surprisingly, the two haven’t squared off at an ACWS match racing series since Round 1 in Cascais, Portugal, last August.

“It’ll be a tough race versus Terry, but we’re going out there with an opportunity to get both of our crews through to the finals,” said Spithill. “It’s great to see our teammates sail a couple of fantastic races.”

 

Crew Lists
ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL – Jimmy Spithill (skipper/helmsman) John Kostecki (tactician), Dirk de Ridder (wingsail trimmer), Joe Newton (headsail trimmer), Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen (bowman)
ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS – Russell Coutts (skipper/helmsman), Kyle Langford (wingsail trimmer), Simon Daubney (headsail trimmer), Matt Mitchell (runners), Sam Newton (bowman)

2011-12 ACWS – Newport Fleet Racing Championship
Team (Country) R1 — Total Points
1. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (USA) 1 — 10
2. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS (USA) 2 – 9
3. Luna Rossa Piranha (ITA) 3 — 8
4. Artemis Racing (SWE) 4 — 7
5. Energy Team (FRA) 5 — 6
6. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 6 — 5
7. Luna Rossa Swordfish (ITA) 7 — 4
8. Team Korea (KOR) 8 — 3
(Scoring: 1st place = 10 points, 2nd = 9, 3rd = 8, 4th = 7, 5th = 6, 6th = 5, 7th = 4, 8th = 3)

Match Racing Championship – Quarterfinal Results
Match 1: ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHLL d. Team Korea, 2-1
M2: Artemis Racing d. Energy Team, 2-0
M3: ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS d. Luna Rossa – Swordfish, 2-1
M4: Luna Rossa Piranha d. Emirates Team New Zealand, 2-0

 

 

 

Team  Oracle  USA Spithill  (Photo by George Bekris)

Team Oracle USA Spithill (Photo by George Bekris)

 

ORACLE TEAM USA Skipper Jimmy Spithill and crew have their eye on the prize – the 2011-’12 ACWS Season Championship.

Championship racing for ACWS – Newport, the final event of the 2011-’12 ACWS season, begins Thursday, June 28. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL enters the finale holding a 4-point lead in the overall standings.

“We’ve always just wanted to be in a position to win the championship, and now we’re there,” said Spithill. “We’ll have a shot to wrap up the season and it’s obviously something we’d like to win. I think we’ll have great turnout in Newport and that’ll help us get the job done.”

Spithill will be racing with his regular crew of tactician John Kostecki, wingsail trimmer Dirk de Ridder, headsail trimmer Joe Newton and bowman Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen. They’ll be racing in U.S. waters for the first time since last November’s third round in San Diego when they swept the match and fleet racing championships.

Energy and Oracle by Castle Hill Light  (Photo  by George Bekris)

Energy and Oracle by Castle Hill Light (Photo by George Bekris)

“Newport will be fantastic.” said Spithill. “We have a huge amount of support there. I think the racecourse and viewing landscape will be great for spectators. I think everyone’s genuinely looking forward to it.”

While Spithill will be gunning for the title, team CEO Russell Coutts returns to the helm of the No. 5 boat for the first time since last September in Plymouth, UK. Coutts handed over the helm to double Olympic medalist Darren Bundock to focus on the event side of the 2013 America’s Cup.

“Newport’s a great venue for racing,” said Coutts, the all-time America’s Cup-winning skipper. “I’ve raced there a lot and with the racecourse placed along the shore of Fort Adams it will offer fantastic viewing for fans.”

ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS is aiming to improve on its sixth place in the standings. Coutts will race with wingsail trimmer Kyle Langford, headsail trimmer Simon Daubney, Matt Mitchell on runners and new bowman Sam Newton, who joined the team late last year and has raced high-performance dinghies such as 18-foot Skiffs.

Both crews have been practicing in San Francisco the past 10 days in preparation for the finale. They’ll begin practicing on Narragansett Bay tomorrow. Newport most likely will have more breeze than the fifth round of the 2011-’12 AC World Series in Venice, where huge crowds turned out to watch the racing.

 

“Newport is the sailing capital of the East Coast, so I think there’ll be a huge turnout,” said Kostecki, the tactician for Spithill. “I’ve spoken with a lot of people who are looking forward to coming down and watching us race. I think there’ll be a bit more breeze and it’ll also be tricky with the currents, so it should be a great race track.”

The ACWS – Newport Race Village opens tomorrow, June 23, and championship racing is scheduled June 28-July 1. The fleet race finale on July 1 is scheduled to be broadcast live in the U.S. on NBC.

Crew Lists
ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL – Jimmy Spithill (skipper/helmsman) John Kostecki (tactician), Dirk de Ridder (wingsail trimmer), Joe Newton (headsail trimmer), Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen (bowman)
ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS – Russell Coutts (skipper/helmsman), Kyle Langford (wingsail trimmer), Simon Daubney (headsail trimmer), Matt Mitchell (runner), Sam Newton (bowman)

2011-’12 America’s Cup World Series Overall Standings
Team (Country) Match – Fleet — Total
1. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (USA) 38 – 46 — 84
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) 36 – 44 — 80
3. Artemis Racing (SWE) 43 – 28 — 71
4. Energy Team (FRA) 32 – 33 — 65
5. Team Korea (KOR) 30 – 26 — 56
6. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS (USA) 29 – 24 — 53
7. Luna Rossa Piranha 18 – 16 — 34
8. China Team (CHN) 13 – 15 — 28
9. Green Comm Racing (ESP) 11 – 12 — 23
10. Luna Rossa Swordfish 11 – 10 — 21
(After five of six scheduled events)

 

 

AC 45's Practice Spar In Newport, RI (Photo by George Bekris)

AC 45's Practice Spar In Newport, RI (Photo by George Bekris)

 

The waters were crowded off Newport this weekend as AC World Series teams trained in postcard perfect conditions on Narragansett Bay, surrounded by all manner of sailing craft, from little dinghies to classics and old America’s Cup 12-meters.

Artemis AC45 in Newport (Photo by George Bekris)

Artemis AC45 in Newport (Photo by George Bekris)

Sail Newport held its annual Youth Challenge sailing regatta, putting over 150 kids in 118 boats on the water each day (an event record). By late afternoon, when the youth boats and AC45s were all returning to Newport, close encounters of a spectacular kind were inevitable and exciting for sailors on both sides of the equation.

“To see so many boats out there is brilliant,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker. “I just think about what it would have been like for me as a kid to see boats blasting around like these catamarans do. It’s just really cool. The AC45s perform really well in these conditions, they love a little bit of breeze and flat water, so it doesn’t get much better than this.

Newport ACWS Race Village (Photo by George Bekris)

Newport ACWS Race Village (Photo by George Bekris)

“It really is amazing here. Newport has such a rich history in the America’s Cup. When I was growing up you came to hear about Newport, primarily I think because of what Australia II did here, so to come here and sail on the same waters is really special.”

Brad Read, the executive director of Sail Newport reminded his charges at the Youth Challenge prize giving that the event is just starting.

“We’re going all week long. This is a true festival of sailing through next weekend and you guys kicked it off,” he said. “Anybody in this room who sailed probably won’t remember how they did in any of the races compared to what it was like when ORACLE TEAM USA blasted through your race course! I think that was the coolest thing you’re going to see while you’re racing.”

Artemis, Team Korea and Emirates New Zealand (Photo by George Bekris)

Artemis, Team Korea and Emirates New Zealand (Photo by George Bekris)