Saturday, two things happened to Oracle. It raced better upwind. It got a break from a New Zealand error.
With regard to the former, racing better upwind, that’s HUGE. No, it’s GiHugic! Oracle tacked better, and after losing the start to New Zealand (what happened there?), Oracle was still behind at Mark 2.
Then, the water god Neptune intervened ...for the first time of the day. He gave Oracle the boost it needed upwind. Oracle gained - yes GAINED - ground on New Zealand. Right up to that infamous crossing, where things went nearly disastrously bad for ETNZ.
The "early-day's" pitch-pole by Couts on the 45, the capsize of Oracle’s 72, the crash of Artemis, and now, the recovery of New Zealand’s 72 from the potential capsize are THE visual images of this America’s Cup. (Well, add to that the image of Spithill talking to Couts in the crash boat after the loss last weekend... I'm just sayin'.) Dean Barker said they were about a ½ a degree from gone. I’d say 1/4 a degree.
That’s when Neptune intervened again. The gentle hand from above, pushed the New Zealander’s back on two hulls. No one will scoff at a christening ceremony again. Ever.
Barker looked shaken up. (Hell, who wouldn’t.) But the team finished the race and was ready for Race Two. And was winning that race when it got called for wind.
I’ve always thought the wind limit was a bunch of crap. This is sailing after all. Not anymore. Oracle, Artemis and New Zealand have all had significant wind issues. The wing sail is simply too big for SF's big wind. Lesson learned. Next time, a smaller wing. Just looking at the boats on a down-wind run at 22 knots shows how little control there is when they hit 40+ knots of boat speed. It’s about racing, not about NASCAR crashing. (Well, not *all* about NASCAR crashing...)
Did Oracle’s win change the game? They are still down 6-0. But has momentum shifted?
Oracle has been saying, over and over and over, it can win these races. But it’s gotten spanked up-wind each time. Until now. Now, Oracle has proven it CAN “win” the up-wind leg. And the starts. And it is faster down-wind. If Oracle can put all these elements together, it can (and should) win the America’s Cup.
Can Oracle get it together? Today is another day. A key day, in my opinion. If Oracle wins a race today (just one, I’m not greedy), then Oracle will have changed the game. After that, all bets are off.