Oracle Team USA continued their winning streak this afternoon after sailing a race that Kiwi opponent Dean Barker described as “flawless” in a post-race interview.
The conditions were fairly light during the race, hovering at around 12 to 14 knots, and at the start, Oracle and Emirates were both lined up on starboard tack maneuvering toward the starting line. Emirates was to leeward and clear ahead of Oracle, however at about 25 seconds prior to the start, Oracle turned their bow upwind giving them a bit more apparent wind, helping them accelerate forward and on top of the Emirates’ breeze.
Once overlapped about a boat length to windward, Oracle pressed their bow down and rolled over the top of the Kiwi boat hitting the starting line exactly on time and up on their foils.
From then on, it was Oracle’s race to lose.
They rounded the first mark ahead and headed off to the right side of the course and then switched to the left side of the course which had more breeze and minimal adverse current.
There wasn’t much the New Zealand boat could do on the upwind beat as the favorable sides of the course were very apparent Oracle was ahead by 120 meters or more nearly the entire way up to the top mark.
Rounding the windward mark, Emirates unfurled their Code 0 hoping the extra sail area might reel the American’s closer, however as the breeze picked up and both boats were foiling, the extra sail area did very little if anything to boost speed.
The only hope for the Kiwis lay in the chance that Oracle might may a boat handling mistake, however Grant Dalton’s observation appeared accurate. Oracle looked flawless, not just from a boat handling perspective, but from an overall hydrodynamic standpoint. When they gybed, Oracle kept on a fairly even pitch through out the entire gybe while Emirates Team New Zealand’s boat seemed to hobby horse, that is pitch up and down significantly throughout their boat handling maneuvers.
Was the hobby-horsing a factor? It’s hard to say for sure, but what is certain is that after winning the start, perfect boat handling by Oracle Team USA made the tactical decisions rather elementary.
Emirates Team New Zealand still needs only one more win to clinch the America’s Cup.