Hanuman by George Bekris

Hanuman by George Bekris

The majesty of the J Class era will return to the America’s Cup eighty years after the class last raced for the oldest trophy in international sport.

The J Class Association (JCA) and the America’s Cup Event Authority have agreed to stage a J Class regatta in Bermuda in June 2017 between the conclusion of the America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs and the America’s Cup Match.

“The J Class era of the America’s Cup is widely recognized as being among the high points in Cup history,” said Russell Coutts, director of the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA).

“When racing for the America’s Cup in the 1930s, the J Class boats embodied grace and power with cutting-edge design and engineering. Having the J Class join us in Bermuda will create a spectacular blend between the old and new.”

The J Class boats will be moored in the America’s Cup Village in Dockyard at Bermuda, providing as elegant a sight at rest as their beauty and power are impressive under sail.

Louise Morton from the J Class Association (JCA), commented: “The America’s Cup organizers have offered the J Class a unique opportunity to be part of the America’s Cup for the first time in eighty years. On behalf of the Owners, Captains and crew, we are delighted to be part of this spectacular event.”

Hanuman (Photo by George Bekris)

Hanuman (Photo by George Bekris)

Racing in the J Class regatta will be organized by the America’s Cup race management team with the final two days of racing expected to straddle the opening weekend of the America’s Cup Match.

The current J Class fleet comprises seven boats, including three original Js, two of which raced for the America’s Cup. The seven J Class boats currently sailing are: Endeavour, Hanuman, Lionheart, Rainbow, Ranger, Shamrock V, Velsheda. An eighth J Class yacht is expected to be launched in May 2015.

J-Class Ranger and Hanuman (Photo by George Bekris)

J-Class Ranger and Hanuman (Photo by George Bekris)

Bermuda (Photo © Bermuda Aerial Media)

Bermuda (Photo © Bermuda Aerial Media)

The island of Bermuda and the city of San Diego have been shortlisted as potential host cities for the 35th America’s Cup.

Chicago, which had also been under consideration, is now a likely venue for America’s Cup World Series racing in 2015 and 2016.

“Both Bermuda and San Diego have made very compelling cases to be the host for the next America’s Cup,” said Russell Coutts, Director of the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA). “We will be in good hands with either venue.”

Bermuda is 640 miles (1,030 km) east-southeast of North Carolina. It is known to sailors for the Newport to Bermuda race, as well as the Bermuda Gold Cup match-racing event, both of which have a long history of success on the island and a sterling reputation among sailors. America’s Cup racing in Bermuda would take place close to shore, within the Great Sound.

San Diego is one of only seven cities to have hosted the America’s Cup. When the Cup was previously held there in 1988, 1992 and 1995, the race course was far offshore, on the ocean waters beyond Point Loma. But if San Diego were selected as the venue this time, racing would take place in San Diego Bay, offering incredible viewing opportunities for spectators along the city’s waterfront.

To advance the venue selection process over the coming months, the America’s Cup Event Authority will work closely with both venues to finalize logistics requirements and commercial opportunities, as well as to establish the needed relationships with private and public entities to ensure a successful event.

It is through this process that the final host city for the next America’s Cup will emerge.

“We are now able to focus on two venues that are motivated and enthusiastic at the prospect of hosting the next America’s Cup,” Coutts concluded. “I’m confident that we’re on target to finish with a venue that allows us to achieve our goal of hosting an exciting and successful America’s Cup built on a strong commercial foundation.”

The host city for the next America’s Cup will be announced by ACEA before the end of this year.

16/11/2011- San Diego (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - San Diego America's Cup World Series - Fleet Race

16/11/2011- San Diego (USA,CA) – 34th America’s Cup – San Diego America’s Cup World Series – Fleet Race

ORACLE TEAM USA wins 34th America's Cup

ORACLE TEAM USA won the 34th America’s Cup in a winner-take-all 19th race, defeating challenger Emirates Team New Zealand by 44 seconds in today’s clincher. Led by 35-year-old skipper Jimmy Spithill, ORACLE TEAM USA won by the score of 9-8.

This is the second America’s Cup win for ORACLE TEAM USA and Spithill, which won the 162-year-old trophy in Valencia, Spain, in February 2010. Then 30 years of age, Spithill became the youngest to ever skipper a Cup winning team.

In the past week ORACLE TEAM USA has steadily improved its boatspeed to the point where it could hydrofoil upwind at 30-32 knots, incredible performance never seen before in the America’s Cup.

“It was a fantastic race. We wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Spithill, the two-time Cup winner. “We came from behind, the guys showed so much heart. On your own you’re nothing, but a team like this can make you look great… We were facing the barrel of a gun at 8-1 and the guys didn’t even flinch.

“Thanks to San Francisco, this is one hell of a day,” Spithill said.

ORACLE TEAM USA’s victory marks one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of sport. The team won 11 races to score the 9 points required for victory due to a penalty imposed by the International Jury. Just last Wednesday, Sept. 18, ORACLE TEAM USA trailed the series 8-1. With the challenger on match point, the defender closed out the series with eight consecutive victories.

This was the third time in the history of the America’s Cup with a winner-take-all final race. Previously, the defender won in 1920 and the challenger won in 1983. Both times the winner rallied from a multi-race deficit, but never anything amounting to eight straight wins.

“This was a wonderful match of teams,” said Regatta Director Iain Murray, who’s been involved with the America’s Cup since 1983. “In the case of a boat coming from behind, 3-1 down as was the case with Australia II in 83, the shoe is on a different foot this time around. Then it was the challenger behind and this time it was the defender. But in the end we had great competition between two great teams, evenly matched, battling it out to the end.”

Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo by Miranda Hoang)

One million fans visited the official America’s Cup venues at Piers 27/29 and Marina Green since they opened on July 4, and hundreds of thousands more lined the shores of San Francisco Bay to catch a glimpse of the flying, foiling AC72.

Dean Barker, ETNZ Skipper (Photo by Miranda Hoang)

34th America’s Cup Standings (first to 9 points wins)

ORACLE TEAM USA – 9 (11 wins; ORACLE TEAM USA was penalized its first two victories by the International Jury)
Emirates Team New Zealand – 8

Race 19 Performance Data
Course: 5 Legs/10.07 nautical miles
Elapsed Time: OTUSA – 23:24, ETNZ – 24:08
Delta: OTUSA +:44
Total distance sailed: OTUSA – 11.9 NM, ETNZ – 12.2 NM
Average Speed: OTUSA – 30.55 knots (35 mph), ETNZ – 30.55 knots (35 mph)
Top Speed: OTUSA – 44.33 knots (51 mph), ETNZ – 45.72 knots (53 mph)
Windspeed: Average – 18.2 knots, Peak – 21.3 knots
Number of Tacks/Jibes: OTUSA – 9/7, ETNZ – 9/7

34th America’s Cup Race by Race
Race 1 (Sep. 7): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by :36
Race 2 (Sep. 7): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by :52
Race 3 (Sep. 8): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by :28
Race 4 (Sep. 8): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :08*
Race 5 (Sep. 10): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by 1:05
Race 6 (Sep. 12): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by :46
Race 7 (Sep. 12): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by 1:06
Race 8 (Sep. 14): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :52*
Race 9 (Sep. 15): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :47
Race 10 (Sep. 15): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by :16
Race 11 (Sep. 18): Emirates Team New Zealand d. ORACLE TEAM USA by :15
Race 12 (Sep. 19): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :31
Race 13 (Sep. 20): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by 1:24
Race 14 (Sep. 22): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :23
Race 15 (Sep. 22): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :37
Race 16 (Sep. 23): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :33
Race 17 (Sep. 24): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :27
Race 18 (Sep. 24): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :54
Race 19 (Sep. 25): ORACLE TEAM USA d. Emirates Team New Zealand by :44
(* ORACLE TEAM USA’s first two victories don’t count towards is scoreline as part of a penalty issued by the International Jury.)

ORACLE TEAM USA (Photo by Miranda Hoang)

As the sun sets on San Francisco and another America’s Cup the defenders keep the cup and look forward to the 35th America’s Cup and the new generation of sailing.

Sunset in San Francisco (Photo by Miranda Hoang)

Opening Ceremony emcee Ted Robinson (left) and ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill talk about the America's Cup (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget)

The 2013 America’s Cup opened amid great fanfare and celebration today with the grand Opening Ceremony on the main stage at the America’s Cup Pavilion.

With the sailors of the four teams contesting the 2013 America’s Cup—ORACLE TEAM USA, Emirates Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa Challenge and Artemis Racing—standing behind her, Lucy M. Jewett, recently elected to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, brought the opening ceremony to a close by saying, “Let the racing begin.”

Streamers help close the Opening Ceremony of the 2013 America's Cup with the sailors from the four teams on stage. (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget)

With those words paper streamers were shot from air guns, a flock of doves was released and Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” rang out over the full house crowd that took in the Opening Ceremony, a fraction of the 30,000 visitors who toured the Park on a sun-splashed Independence Day holiday in the United States.

For the first time since 1995, the America’s Cup is being hosted in the U.S.

“Welcome to San Francisco,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “It’s an honor and privilege to be the mayor of the host city for the America’s Cup.”

“I’d like to extend a big thank you to San Francisco for making all of this possible,” said America’s Cup Event Authority CEO Stephen Barclay. “This won’t be remembered as the 2013 America’s Cup or the 34th America’s Cup, but the San Francisco America’s Cup.”

The Opening Ceremony featured cultural performances from the four competing nations. The U.S. was represented by the Recycle Percussion troupe, New Zealand by the Maori performing arts group Te Waka Huia, Italy by the tenor Pasquale Esposito and Sweden by the Voices of Sweden Choir.

Charlotte Schultz, David Chiu, Monique Moyer, Stephen Barclay and Valérie Chapoulaud (left to right) at the ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the America's Cup Park, at Piers 27/29. (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget)

Additional performances were from Misa Malone, from the cast of Beach Blanket Babylon, who sang “San Francisco,” and Nayah Damasen, an 8-year-old from San Jose, Calif., who sang the National Anthem. Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard Color Guard and the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps ushered in the American flag and the flags of Italy, New Zealand and Sweden.

The park officially opened shortly after noon time with San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, Monique Moyer, Executive Director of the Port of San Francisco, Valérie Chapoulaud, the CEO of Louis Vuitton Americas, Charlotte Schultz, the Chief of Protocol for the city and county of San Francisco, and the ACEA’s Barclay, participating in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the entrance to the America’s Cup Park.

When the gates opened a few thousand people flooded into the park. As the crowd increased into the tens of thousands throughout the afternoon, the fans took in many of the exhibits and fan friendly lounge areas and concessions.

One visiting family was the Browns from Destin, Fla., who changed their typical summer vacation plans to visit San Francisco for the month of July.

“We’re very impressed with the venue,” said Alex Brown “My husband Jerry is very excited about the America’s Cup.”

“We’re looking forward to getting out on the water and watching the racing,” said Jerry Brown.

Tomorrow the America’s Cup action takes to the water with a fleet parade scheduled to begin at 11:00 am PT. The parade of some 45 boats is expected to include the AC72s, the foiling, flying catamarans developed specifically for the 2013 America’s Cup. The parade will pass along the city front to the America’s Cup Village, at Marina Green.

At 12:15 pm PT Emirates Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa Challenge and ORACLE TEAM USA are scheduled to participate in the AC72 Time Trials, which will be held over the five-leg America’s Cup course. The starts will be staggered by 10 minutes off the America’s Cup Village and finish off the America’s Cup Park with many viewing opportunities along the shoreline.

On race day afternoons throughout the Summer of Racing, the America’s Cup Pavilion stage will showcase local performing artists free to the public. The Opening Weekend features five local bands with the first of these performances on Friday, July 5, from 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm PT.

The headliner act is New Diplomat, an American Alternative – Electronic Rock band. Featuring members from around the world, the band formed in 2010 and has since gathered a significant following, blending a combination of alt rock, indie pop and electronic music.

The opening act is The Five Hundreds, a San Francisco-based classic rock band that plays a mix of well-crafted original songs and high-energy rock and roll covers.

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, Lucy M. Jewett and Regatta Director Iain Murray (left to right) at the Opening Ceremony for the 2013 America's Cup. (Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget)

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