ORACLE TEAM USA stuns and thrills as the dark horse defeats favored Kiwis again Thursday and yet again on Friday, taking the America’s Cup into the weekend of September 21 – 22, 2013 where San Franciscans and children will be able to come out and support the team’s indefatigable spirit and steadfast determination with the race hanging on just one point for the beloved Kiwis.
ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill and tactician Ben Ainslie seemed modest and philosophical at the press conference Thursday after winning and stressed the learning curve and advances in general but when ORACLE TEAM USA won again on Friday, Jimmy Spithill just put it out there straight, unable to contain his pride in the boys:
Look. Sometimes things go your way. That’s racing and that’s sport. Even in the later stages . . . the boys weren’t giving up. They were hanging in there and just weren’t giving up and that’s the way it goes.
Dean Barker, the gentleman skipper of ETNZ, even said of his position one point from winning day after day after day, talking to the press on Friday after another ORACLE win:
You can cry, you can laugh, but you get on with it.
Jimmy seemed jovial actually on Friday. A journalist asked about his evening routine and Jimmy said they hit the clubs and come back about four in the morning. He gazed over at Ben Ainslie and said casually with a smile, “I don’t know, Matrix tonight?” Even Dean smiled a little.
Ainslee did add that
We’ve all been in that situation where you’ve got one hand on the trophy and you’ve got to come back and do it all again.
As Jimmy said, we’ve had a bit of a rough time so we’ll ride our luck and keep fighting.
Jimmy noted on Friday how far down the team was when the Cup finals started. They faced the demoralization and condemnation over the AC45 matter and got penalized two points, having to start the cup with negative two. They lost the wing trimmer. Now look at them.
ORACLE TEAM USA has actually won five races even though the score stands at eight to three. That’s a fact even if ORACLE TEAM USA must sweep the remaining races and the Kiwis have been on edge day after day after day with just one point more to close it out. The obituaries had been written a week ago and Jimmy and his boys have brought the whole Cup back to life, alive and kicking.
Whether one likes ORACLE TEAM USA or Larry Ellison or not, politics and money aside, these sailors are the real deal with integrity and fortitude and guts and they deserve whatever glory comes their way.
Then there’s the infernal race postponements.
Thursday the second race got cancelled with the wind tantalizingly close to the limit but just over.
Friday, the first race timed out because the wind was so mild the water remained so smooth and peaceful that each team had yet to return to the to the leeward mark before the forty minutes were up. Sails luffed. The boats had approached Alcatraz as if the teams were going to the island for a picnic and planned to take the ferry home.
The result however looks like a gift as Cup watchers have to believe in the force that is Jimmy Spithill and Ben Ainslie along with Tom Slingsby. Even if you resent having only one American on board, nay, in the race, young Rome Kirby, these are sailors who have dedicated themselves to performance. They as athletes are works of art, in peak condition and they look it, whether they are big muscular grinders or trimmers. Skin glows, eyes shine. Some of the ORACLE men have grown beards while ETNZ seems to prefer being clean shaven with perhaps a day’s growth. Many seem to shave their heads like swimmers in competition.
They wear the sailing suits well to say the least. If you like the Olympics, you have to love these guys. You have to see them in person, the clinical headshots on the website barely resemble them up close and personal, in their sailing gear and flying on water.
Jimmy did say a few words about the rivalry between Australia and New Zealand. How he and Dean would like to kill each other but Australia and New Zealand are also the first ones to come to each other’s aid when necessary. So this seems to be where Jimmy is getting his motivation from. Again, it’s been hard to root for the American team as Americans no matter how fabulous Rome Kirby is, even if it’s quality not quantity.
Jimmy is also ready to raise the wind limit. It’s no wonder he wants to let it fly.
60 or 70 knot closing speeds
Ben Ainslee said
Things are indeed different now.
It’s very breeze dependent, the moving of the boat and how fast you want to try and sail; where the opposition is going, what’s happening with the tide or the current; as you go up the track trying to set up nicely for which ever mark is favored at the top which is normally the right-hand mark. So there’s a lot going on and it happens pretty quickly.
Good communication across the boat is vital.
Both teams have gotten better at tacking. The first few races the teams were sort of scratchy on tacks but we’re getting better at it. Certainly the closing speeds are coming up to 60 or 70 knots.
If you start talking about a leebow tack or crossing at those sort of speeds you better get it right.
Jimmy stressed the learning curve is still steep, that we’re just at the bottom of the pyramid.
It’s really a case of trying to stay focused . . . The guys get fired up and working on pre-start routines and getting the laylines and time and distance work.
Jimmy went on to say
Benny had some tough decisions to make. Foiling upwind in that sort of breeze was impressive. Zero mistakes.
Dean said you have to fight really hard for every point.
There’s so much going on. . . . It’s a balance between how much you go off software and how much you go off what you’re seeing with your eyes. It’s a constant learning process.
Racing resumes Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 1:15.
Related: ORACLE TEAM USA poster signing
For more information: www.AmericasCup.com
Check out youth sailing around the Bay at www.SailSFBay.org, particularly the 75 year old program on Oakland’s Lake Merritt.
The America’s Cup pavillion is along the Embarcadero before Fisherman's Wharf and is an easy walk, pedicab ride, bike ride or Muni ride from the ferry building and Embarcadero BART. The village and grandstands are at Marina Green.
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