[Source: Oracle Racing] “We’re very happy with today’s performance,” said winning skipper Jimmy Spithill who passed teammate Russell Coutts to the ACWS Plymouth Fleet Racing Championship. “We were disappointed after the match racing round, so it was nice to get one back today.”
Both the ORACLE Racing boats reveled in the conditions, regularly clocking speeds in excess of 45 km/h or 30 mph on the downwind legs.
“It was challenging but incredibly exciting. We loved it. We were quite on the edge at times, but it was incredibly enjoyable,” said Spithill.
ORACLE Racing Coutts placed third, about 30 seconds behind their teammates. “We had a good start, held the lead but didn’t quite pull it off,” said skipper Russell Coutts.
“It was a great day, a fantastic race. This format is meant to test the best sailors in the world. Not everyone could get around the track, but that’s what the game’s about.
“It was physical and challenging, but it wasn’t that extreme,” Coutts continued. “You just had to have your eyes out of the boat and see the puffs coming.”
With the winds forecast to blow 20 to 25 knots and with gusts upwards of 30 knots, Regatta Director Iain Murray cancelled the Guest Racer program from riding aboard the AC45 wingsail cats. At the bottom end of the range the wind was a manageable 15 knots or less.
French legend Loïck Peryon recorded what’s believed to be his team’s first ever capsize as Energy Team staggered over in the pre-start while trying to avoid Team Korea. Seconds later Artemis Racing became entangled with Green Comm Racing when the windward hull of the Swedish cat dug in the water and under the port transom of Green Comm. After the race had started China Team lost its equilibrium at the first reach mark and capsized. Later, Artemis Racing capsized in a monster puff of 30-plus.
In a nod to seamanship, Peyron’s Energy Team came back to place sixth for the race with Team Korea finishing fifth.
ORACLE Racing Coutts, ORACLE Racing Spithill and Emirates Team New Zealand were the only three crews to make a clean start and quickly were launched down the course. Reaching top speeds of 31-32 mph, the three crews each took a turn leading the race.
ORACLE Racing Spithill gained control on the second upwind leg and held on around the course for a bit of redemption. They won the race with an elapsed time of 34 minutes and 48 seconds.
The America’s Cup World Series next moves to San Diego, Calif., for event No. 3 in mid-November.
ACWS Plymouth Fleet Racing Championship
1. ORACLE Racing Spithill/James Spithill (USA) – 10 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) – 9
3. ORACLE Racing Coutts/Russell Coutts (USA) – 8
4. Aleph (FRA) – 7
5. Team Korea (KOR) – 6
6. Energy Team (FRA) – 5
7. China Team (CHN) – 4
Artemis Racing (SWE) – 3 (DNF)
Green Comm Racing (ESP) – 3 (DNS)
America’s Cup World Series Standings – (After 2 of 7 events)
1. Emirates Team New Zealand – 19 points
2. ORACLE Racing Spithill/James Spithill (USA) – 18
3. ORACLE Racing Coutts/Russell Coutts (USA) – 15
4. Aleph (FRA) – 12
5. Artemis Racing (SWE) – 12
6. Team Korea (KOR) – 10
7. Green Comm Racing (ESP) – 9
8. Energy Team (FRA) – 8
9. China Team (CHN) – 7