Sunday, August 14, 2011

ORACLE Racing Finish 3rd and 4th at ACWS in Cascais

Cascais, Portugal, Sunday, August 14, 2011

ORACLE Racing today finished in third and fourth position in the fleet race finale of the America’s Cup World Series – Cascais. Today's only race, "a winner takes all", was for the overall championship of the event.

After yesterday’s victory in the Match Racing Championship, Skipper James Spithill was looking the goods and well positioned to claim the event championship as well.
Larry Ellison Photo: Guilain Grenier/ORACLE Racing
With team founder Larry Ellison onboard as the sixth crewmember, Spithill nailed the start at the pin end of the line with speed and precision to open up a lead of almost one minute at the first leeward gate.

ORACLE Racing Spithill crew held their lead at the next windward mark and as they led down the second run unfortunately sailed into some patchy light wind. Over on the opposite side of the course Emirates Team New Zealand found a puff and crossed Spithill about two-thirds of the way down the leg.
Photo: Guilain Grenier/ORACLE Racing
One of the key elements of the new class of AC45 catamarans is to create passing opportunities and this happened a second time on the next upwind leg. ORACLE Racing Spithill dropped a place to Artemis Racing in a close port-starboard crossing halfway up the leg.

After 40 exhilarating  minutes, ORACLE Racing Spithill crossed the line in third, ahead of teammate ORACLE Racing Coutts, skippered by Russell Coutts.

“It’s been a good week for us,” said Spithill. “We would’ve liked to finish with a win today. I think we sailed well in tricky conditions, the other guys just managed to do it a bit better as the breeze got funny. Full credit to Team New Zealand and Artemis Racing, they sailed well.
James Spithill Photo: Guilain Grenier/ORACLE Racing
“The highlight was taking Larry out for his first race,” continued Spithill. “He’s really the guy who put this concept together.”

The introduction of a new racecourse was designed to keep the racing close and make it exciting for fans and television broadcasts. The wingsailed catamarans were developed for speed and to challenge the crewmembers in an athletic manner. After the first event of the ACWS it appears both goals have been realized.

“I’ve driven an RC 44 for the past four or five years. That, up until these boats, was the most fun I ever had sailing. Now the RC 44 seems like old technology,” said Ellison, who founded ORACLE Racing in August 2000.
Russell Coutts Photo: Guilain Grenier/ORACLE Racing
“We’re very excited that these boats go as fast as they do and can be pushed to such extremes by these great sailors who are driving them,” Ellison continued. “I think we made the right decision. It’s extreme sailing. Something the kids can get excited about, TV viewers can get excited about and even old monohull sailors like me can get excited about.”

Today’s racing featured plenty of place changing. While ORACLE Racing Spithill went the wrong way, Green Comm made a great comeback from last to finish fifth, seconds behind ORACLE Racing Coutts. It was only the eighth time skipper Vasilij Zbogar and his crew had sailed an AC45.

Yesterday’s match race final was punctuated by no fewer than five lead changes and top speeds of 45 kph/27 mph.

“Yeah, overtaking, what a shame,” Spithill chuckled. “It’s hard to defend in these boats and that’s a fantastic thing to have in a boat race. Make it hard to lead and have plenty of passing opportunities. I’m very happy.”

The America’s Cup World Series next moves to Plymouth, England, Sept. 10-18. In departing Cascais crews gave the revamped America’s Cup format a big thumbs up. “It will only get better,” said Artemis Racing’s skipper Terry Hutchinson.

ACWS – Cascais Final Standings
1. Emirates Team New Zealand/Dean Barker – 10 points
2. Artemis Racing/Terry Hutchinson – 9
3. ORACLE Racing Spithill/James Spithill – 8
4. ORACLE Racing Coutts/Russell Coutts – 7
5. Green Comm/Vasilij ┼Żbogar – 6
6. Aleph/Alain Gautier – 5
7. Team Korea/Chris Draper – 4
8. Energy Team/Yann Guichard – 3
9. China Team/Mitch Booth – 3

Crew Lists

ORACLE Racing Coutts: Russell Coutts (helm), Murray Jones (wing trim), Matthew Mason(middleman), Daniel Fong (trimmer), Simeon Tienpont (bow)

ORACLE Racing Spithill: James Spithill (helm), John Kostecki (tactician), Dirk de Ridder (wing trim),Joe Newton (trimmer), Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen (bow)

ORACLE Racing Media/Lulu Roseman

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