Monday, November 21, 2011

Spithill Rocks in San Diego and Wins Fleet Racing Championship

Australia's James Spithill wasn't just out to impress his boss Larry Ellison today (who also happened to be onboard), he was also determined to add the Fleet Racing Championship to the Match Racing Championship he won yesterday and become the first skipper to secure a double win at an AC World Series Regatta.
Photo: © ACEA (2011) / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget
“We really wanted to win the double,” Spithill said after the race. “We started okay, but got mixed up in the pack. But JK (tactician John Kostecki) got us back into it and then the boys did a fantastic job. We were able to stretch away and use our speed.”
Photo: © ACEA (2011) / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget
Emirates Team New Zealand powered off the start line to lead the fleet of nine AC45s into a tight, nail-biting and action-packed turn at the first mark just a few hundred yards away. While the Kiwis team took the lead early, on the long upwind leg Artemis Racing charged their way up to the front of a very tightly pack fleet by the top gate.

ORACLE Racing Spithill chose the favoured top mark and was soon in control to lead the fleet downwind at speeds peaking at 25 knots. Artemis Racing suffered a near disaster at the bottom mark when their headsail failed to deploy cleanly and they almost capsized.
Photo: © ACEA (2011) / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget
As Spithill accelerated away, half the fleet of Team Korea, Emirates Team New Zealand, Energy Team, and Aleph fought tooth and nail for second place. Korea had the first advantage, then the Kiwis, as the pair  were locked together  and only seconds apart for most of the race. The Kiwis and both French boats slipped past the Koreans when they gybed badly.  Emirates Team New Zealand took second with Energy Team just one second ahead of Aleph for third, and Team Korea in fifth.

Despite making a late charge Artemis Racing’s Terry Hutchinson only managed a sixth place just one second ahead of China Team, while Green Comm Racing and ORACLE Racing Coutts held up the back of the fleet.
Photo: © ACEA (2011) / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget
San Diego is the last event of the calendar year for the America’s Cup World Series. The teams will now commence four months of winter training before the next AC World Series regatta in Naples in April 2012 followed by Venice in May.

“We're going to go to some fantastic venues,” said Regatta Director Iain Murray. “The ACWS has grown legs of its own, it has proven itself as a concept. It excites the people, we fit it into the geography of the bays, and creating the stadium racing means we can broadcast our racing from the inside out. I see the World Series going from strength to strength. The AC72s are starting to be built, teams are getting stronger and more confident. We're heading towards some great events.”

Results – San Diego Fleet Racing Championship
1. ORACLE Racing Spithill
2. Emirates Team New Zealand
3. Energy Team
4. Aleph
5. Team Korea
6. Artemis Racing
7. China Team
8. Green Comm Racing
9. ORACLE Racing Coutts

Lulu Roseman

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