28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 - Prize Giving Ceremony - Oman Series Winners Land Rover BAR (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 – Prize Giving Ceremony – Oman Series Winners Land Rover BAR (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

Ben Ainslie, the most decorated Olympic sailor in history, led his Land Rover BAR team to victory at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Oman this weekend.

Ainslie beat his former skipper, Jimmy Spithill and ORACLE TEAM USA, by two points, with the winning margin secured on a late charge in the final race.

Ainslie says winning the event in Oman was an important measuring stick for the team, which hadn’t won since securing victory on home waters in Portsmouth last summer.

28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 - Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 – Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

“We kept fighting through today,” he said. “Compared to the teams with established track records, we need to prove we can compete at the top of the fleet and I think we are getting back to doing that. We have a big team of designers, boat builders and support staff back at home working very hard for us and they want to know that we can win this thing.”

For ORACLE TEAM USA the second place result was a fourth consecutive podium finish in a Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series regatta. But for all that, the team has yet to win.

“We’ve made some good steps forward, but we need to get going,” Spithill said after racing. “It’s good to be on the podium. We’re one of only two teams to have been on the podium at each event. But we want to win. There’s no two ways about it.”

With a third place result in Oman, Emirates Team New Zealand retains its place atop the overall Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series leaderboard, but ORACLE TEAM USA, in second place, has closed the gap to just 6 points.

28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 - Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 – Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

“The last race was a little bit disappointing for us,” said skipper Glenn Ashby, referring to a fifth place finish. “But to come away from any event still holding the overall lead is a good thing. At the end of the day that’s what counts.”

Ashby is right. The leader at the conclusion of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series will carry two bonus points forward into the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers in May 2017 in Bermuda. The second place team earns one bonus point.

28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

A popular result on Sunday came from Groupama Team France, who finished strongly with a second place finish followed by a victory. With Adam Minoprio replacing the injured Franck Cammas on the helm this weekend, the team converted two strong start line performances into top finishes.

“We were pretty stoked on board. You could see the excitement on the guys faces,” Minoprio said. “We didn’t have the strongest start to the regatta but we’re happy to have been improving through the weekend and finishing with a win.”

Both SoftBank Team Japan and Artemis Racing continued to show moments of promised but fell back in the fleet over the course of the day; bad breaks combined with poor decisions or handling errors to put the pair at the bottom of the table.

28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 - Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 – Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman marked the first America’s Cup sailing in the Middle East and was a milestone event for the host, Oman Sail.

“This was a fantastic weekend for us,” said David Graham, the CEO of Oman Sail. “Promoting Oman through the America’s Cup broadcast was a fantastic opportunity for us.

“It was also tremendous to see the integration of our youth sailing programs with AC Endeavour. And I think perhaps most significant for me was how the Omanis on our team led the charge and delivered a fantastic event.

“The feedback from our guests, our partners, and all of the visitors who came to enjoy the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman has been extremely positive. Let’s do it again!”

28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Final Leaderboard 

Land Rover BAR – 8, 10, 10, 18, 14, 16 – 76 points
ORACLE TEAM USA – 9, 6, 9, 12, 20, 18 – 74 points
Emirates Team New Zealand – 10, 7, 5, 20, 16, 12 – 70 points
Groupama Team France – 5, 8, 7, 10, 18, 20 – 68 points
SoftBank Team Japan – 6, 9, 6, 16, 10, 14 – 61 points
Artemis Racing – 7, 5, 8, 14, 12, 10 – 56 points

#LVACWOMAN  #LVACWS #ACWS

Overall Series Leaderboard Thus Far

28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

 

Ben Ainslie and Lijia Xu ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year by Kurt Arrigo

Ben Ainslie and Lijia Xu ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year (Photo by Rolex / Kurt Arrigo)

Ben Ainslie (GBR) and Lijia Xu (CHN) were named the male and female winners of the 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards at a ceremony held at the Mansion House, Dublin, Ireland on Tuesday 6 November.

2012 Awards

The ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards takes place during the International Sailing Federation’s (ISAF) Annual Conference, which this year is being held in Dun Laoghaire. The award ceremony welcomes the pinnacle of the sailing world including sailors, officials and conference delegates.

The annual Awards, sponsored by Rolex since 2001, are the highest honour a sailor can receive and is recognition of achievement in a twelve-month period, in this case from 1 September 2011 to 31 August 2012.

 
 
Competition for the 2012 Awards was formidable, with four outstanding female and five equally exceptional male candidates short-listed from a list of nominations made by the public at large. The winners were decided by the votes of the over 130 Member National Authorities of ISAF. Suspense was maintained until the very last minute, with the nominees and guests unaware who had won until the official announcement itself.

Ben Ainslie (GBR) – History Boy

The greatest of his generation. Four Olympic gold medals and now as many ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards. Ben Ainslie is the most successful Olympic sailor of all time. The 35-year old’s achievement at London 2012 elevated him to five Olympic medals (four gold, one silver), surpassing Rolex Testimonee Paul Elvstrøm (DEN), winner of four gold medals between 1948 and 1960. On receiving the award, Ainslie paid tribute to the team that has supported him: “Winning the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year award is a huge honour, especially for everyone who has helped me. There is a huge team in the background from family, friends, coaches and sponsors who helped make it happen. It is an honour to be part of such a group of exceptional sailors who were put forward for this award.”

Ainslie headed into his home Olympics under a colossal weight of expectation. He was given the honour of welcoming the Olympic torch on its arrival in the United Kingdom, and was chosen as the first of 8,000 torchbearers. Fittingly, after making history on the waters off Weymouth, Ainslie was selected as Team GB’s flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony. “To take part in a home Olympics was a completely unique experience,” reflected Ainslie. “I have never felt quite the same level of expectation but also level of support.”

Once competition started, it was another Dane – Jonas Høgh-Christensen – who contrived to stand between Ainslie and his fourth Olympic Gold. Ainslie began the 2012 competition better than any previous Games, but not as well as Christensen. Ainslie needed to react and he used a racecourse incident during the second half of the week to channel his competitive energy. The reigning Olympic champion found a new level, won two of the last four races and went into the decisive medal race needing to beat the relentless Dane but avoid conceding too many points to his other closest rivals. In front of a partisan crowd and following a nail-biting encounter, Ainslie emerged victorious. He cut an exhausted and emotional figure on the finish line. “These Olympics were not that easy for me, sometimes it flows, sometimes you have to fight for it,” he admitted. “It was tough fight all the way to the finish. Taking the gold medal in front of a home crowd – I don’t think I will ever experience an emotion quite like that again.”

Ainslie has been at the top for 20 years, enduring enormous self-sacrifice in his quest for perfection. A pursuit that involves never giving an inch in training sessions and a relentless competition schedule. His remarkable career has seen him claim nine European titles and ten world championships – the first back in 1993. Few sportsmen, in any discipline, have been at the forefront of their profession for such a sustained period.

He has given the sport some of its finest moments including two epic battles with Rolex Testimonee Robert Scheidt (BRA) at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games – duels that drew a wider public to sailing.

Driven and passionate, Ainslie is a compelling character whose future in the sport is expected to  concentrate on his desire to launch a British America’s Cup challenge. As part of his ‘apprenticeship’ Ainslie is part of Team Oracle under the stewardship of two-time ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Russell Coutts, and alongside the 2010 ISAF Rolex World Sailor, Tom Slingsby.

 There are a lot of fantastic sailors out there and when
you look at someone like Paul Elvstrøm, he
revolutionised the sport of sailing in his day and I
certainly don’t think I can claim to have done that  
         Ben Ainslie
Ainslie’s excellence in the sport has been recognised with this record fourth ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award following titles gained in 1998, 2002 and 2008. However, Ainslie remains modest about his momentous achievements: “There are a lot of fantastic sailors out there and when you look at someone like Paul Elvstrøm, he revolutionised the sport of sailing in his day and I certainly don’t think I can claim to have done that. I am very fortunate to have had the support to do what I have.”

Lijia Xu (CHN) – Immense Competitor

The inspirational Lijia Xu etched her name in the history books in August 2012 becoming the first Chinese, and indeed Asian, sailor to win an Olympic Gold medal in a dinghy sailing boat. “I didn’t expect to be the winner,” admitted Xu. “It is an honour to be named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year and become the first sailor from China to receive this award. I hope this award can inspire more children in China to take up the sport.”

 It is an honour to be named ISAF Rolex World
Sailor of the Year and become the first sailor
from China to receive this award   
          Lijia Xu
Xu triumphed in the Laser Radial, one of the tightest and most dramatic competitions at London 2012. This after the Shanghai-born sailor hardly made an auspicious start to competition, finishing in the top three positions in only one of the first six races. During the second half of the week, Xu’s class came to the fore. In a manner reminiscent of her fellow 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, she showed grit and determination to put herself in pole position for the deciding medal race.

Going into that final race, Xu could not afford to slip up with three rivals all in strong contention. In a winner takes all finalé, the 25-year old Chinese sailor sailed best, winning the race and adding Olympic Gold to the Bronze she claimed in Beijing. Her victory lap following the dramatic medal race was one of the sailing competition’s iconic moments. “It was a fantastic medal race that will be remembered forever,” said Xu. “On crossing the finishing line I realized not only my own dream but also the whole nation’s dream. Many people strived for this gold for so many years and despite all the difficulties and setbacks we conquered it.”

Victory in London proved the crowning achievement following an impressive year, where she won three ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas and peaked at the right time after claiming an impressive silver medal during a highly competitive Laser Radial World Championship in May.

A keen swimmer in her youth, Xu’s passion for sailing began from the age of 10 when she started Optimist sailing in Shanghai. She took to the sport immediately. By 2001, at the age of 14, she was Girls’ Optimist World Champion, a title she reclaimed in 2002.  Her story is one of resilience. Xu has battled significant hearing and sight problems and missed out on a place at the Athens Olympics in 2004, when a routine medical examination revealed a tumour in her leg that subsequently required major surgery.

Xu bounced back and in 2006 won the Laser Radial Women’s World Championship. That success, together with the Bronze medal gained at Beijing, on the back of a serious hand injury, propelled Xu onto the international stage. “The most challenging part of my career has been facing injuries. It is important to never give in, never yield,” added Xu.

Xu, who was also her nation’s flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony of London 2012 is assessing whether to mount a campaign for the 2016 Games in Rio. In the meantime, she is taking time to complete her studies and reflect on the love she has for her sport: “Sailing has given me the chance to chase my dreams and the stage to show my potential. It has provided me with the opportunity to see, feel and explore the world. Sailing leads me to a path of a better life, a life full of vitality, excitement and joyful experiences.”

Xu is only the second Asian sailor to be named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year following in the footsteps of female windsurfer Lee Lai Shan (HKG) who won in 1996.
Double Olympic gold medallist and World Sailor of the Year in 2000, Shirley Robertson, hosted the ceremony. The Awards were presented by ISAF President of Honour HM King Constantine and Joël Aeschlimann of Rolex SA. Both winners were presented with a Rolex timepiece and an ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year trophy.

A Stellar Supporting Class

In addition to the two winners, the list of nominees for the 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award included:

Male

Mathew Belcher & Malcolm Page (AUS) – Men’s 470 – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists, 2011 and 2012 World Champions & 2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup Champions

Nathan Outteridge & Iain Jensen (AUS) – 49er – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists & 2011 and 2012 World Champions

Loïck Peyron (FRA) – Outright Around the World Record

Tom Slingsby (AUS) – Laser – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist & 2011 and 2012 World Champion

Female

Tamara Echegoyen, Angela Pumariega and Sofía Toro (ESP) – Women’s Match Racing – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists

Helena Lucas (GBR) – 2.4mR – London 2012 Paralympic Gold Medallist and 2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup Champion

Saskia Sills (GBR) – RS:X – ISAF Youth Sailing World Champion & European Youth Champion

With the exception of Loïck Peyron all of the nominees attended the Awards Ceremony, celebrating a year of outstanding achievement.

ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards

The winners of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards are decided by vote by the over 130 Member National Authorities of ISAF following a worldwide selection process that begins with an open invitation for nominations. Two awards, one for a female sailor/crew and one for a male sailor/crew, are presented to the individuals who are deemed to have most distinguished themselves during the qualifying period.

For Further Information

Please visit the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards microsite at:  www.sailing.org/worldsailor

ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2012 nominees (from left) Saskia Sills (GBR), Iain Jensen (AUS), Nathan Outteridge (AUS), Tamara Echegoyen (ESP), Sofía Toro (ESP), Angela Pumariega (ESP), Tom Slingsby (AUS), Mathew Belcher (AUS), Helena Lucas (GBR), Malcolm Page (AUS), Lijia Xu (CHN) (Photo by Rolex / Kurt Arrigo)

ISAF ROLEX WORLD SAILOR OF THE YEAR TROPHY AT THE FORT SAN FELIPE DEL MORRO, SAN JUAN (Photo by Daniel Forster / Rolex)

 

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and Rolex are proud to announce the Nominees for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards 2012.

ISAF received nominations for the 2012 Awards from across the world for sailors representing all aspects of the sport. The nominees are put forward based on achievements made during the qualifying period of 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2012. Only one nominee wins from both the male and female category and the names vying for the coveted and prestigious 2012 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award are:

Male

Ben Ainslie (GBR) – Finn – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist & 2012 World Champion

Mathew Belcher & Malcolm Page (AUS) – Men’s 470 – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists, 2011 and 2012 World Champions and 2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup Champions

Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) – 49er – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists & 2011 and 2012 World Champions

Loick Peyron (FRA) – Outright Around the World Record

Tom Slingsby (AUS) – Laser – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist & 2011 and 2012 World Champion

Female

Tamara Echegoyen, Angela Pumariega and Sofio Toro (ESP) – Women’s Match Racing – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists

Helena Lucas (GBR) – 2.4mR – London 2012 Paralympic Gold Medallist and 2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup Champion

Saskia Sills (GBR) – RS:X – ISAF Youth Sailing World Champion & European Youth Champion

Lijia Xu (CHN) – Laser Radial – London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist
The Voting

The winners are selected by the ISAF Member National Authorities (MNAs), the national governing bodies for sailing around the world. The MNAs are now invited to vote for the male and female nominee they believe most deserves the Award.

The winners will be announced at the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards presentation and dinner, taking place on Tuesday 6 November 2012. The venue for the event is the Mansion House in Dublin, Ireland.

Each winner will be presented with the prestigious ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award Trophy and a distinctive Rolex timepiece.

ISAF ROLEX WORLD SAILOR OF THE YEAR TROPHY and Prizes by Daniel Forster

ISAF ROLEX WORLD SAILOR OF THE YEAR TROPHY and Prizes (Photo by Daniel Forster / Rolex)

 

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)