America's Cup finalist Emirates New Zealand won its sixth race distinctly ahead of defender ORACLE TEAM USA Thursday, September 12 with moderate wind, warm sun and a strong tide while families frolicked at the pavillion waving Kiwi flags and wearing the black Emirates jerseys. Politics could not spoil a beautiful day with chat turning to Auckland, Dean Barker's legacy and the future of monstrous foiling multi-hulls. Oracle Team USA won one race of the seven.
Resentment seemed to be an undercurrent, about the unceremonious disembarkment of the Bay Area native John Kostecki in the final hour, conjecture being that it's a desperate measure by Larry Ellison or management in general to replace the veteran tactician with Sir Ben Ainslie, a beloved and respected Brit and Olympic gold medal winner. A team is given one postponement card and it's usually for structural problems but the USA used the time to fix human errors and also to replace the tactician with "Benny". USA still needs a total of nine points to win due to a penalty of negative two at the beginning. NZ only needs three more points and the America's Cup will most likely be decided on Sunday.
A video of Hitler's reaction to USA's loss of the America's Cup is up on Youtube and also with this article.
Australian skipper Jimmy Spithill tried to answer diplomatically at the press conference after New Zealand won each race on Thursday. The Australian, who has described his team as the underdog, smoothed over suspicions of ego and personality conflicts by saying Kostecki immediately went to Benny and got him up to speed on being the tactician. However, it changed nothing as Oracle still just doesn't have the speed tacking that New Zealand does. Whether it's the boat design or the skill of wing trimmer Glenn Ashby, New Zealand has one foot back in Auckland with the cup. Barker and Ashby with tactician Ray Davies make the team unbeatable and ORACLE TEAM USA let ETNZ herd it like a sheep.
John Navas, a veteran racer on SF Bay, comments about Kostecki.
In races 6 and 7 Oracle needed to:
1. Capitalize on reaching and downwind speed
2. Improve upwind speed
3. Find favorable tide and wind
4. Avoid maneuvers, especially a tacking duel
It failed on pretty much every count.
After being handed a great start in race 6 by Dean Barker,
it needed to keep control at the bottom mark.
Instead it let ETNZ split to the favored North gate,
and never got back in sync upwind, even after it won the 2nd cross.
Then it let ETNZ herd it like a sheep to the South side of the course,
with lots of costly tacks. These dreadful tactics turned a great start into yet another painful loss it could not afford.
In must-win race 7 Oracle left Dean alone to get a great start,
and then failed to split at the bottom marks, sealing its fate upwind and in the race.
To be fair Ben is a great sailor that was being asked to do the impossible:
jump into the tactician role with a different crew on a different boat
with serious weaknesses in maneuvering and in upwind speed,
so the result isn't terribly surprising or any sort of black mark against Ben.
What the results show is that John Kostecki was likewise being asked
to do the impossible, and wasn't doing badly. It's easy to look good as a
tactician when you have the better boat and boat handling, but not when
you have to find ways to overcome deficits in those areas. You have to take big risks to have any chance of winning even though you know they probably won't pay off. Otherwise you are just racing for last place.
John is an excellent tactician that was doing the best job possible.
As the saying goes,
"When the boat does well, the skipper takes the credit.
When the boat does badly, the tactician gets the blame."
Meanwhile, Australian member of NZ Glenn Ashby's family frolicked in the sun, relaxed and happy while the press conference continued in front of them on the huge screen in the center of the pavillion. Kiwis lounged in the oversized bean bag chairs and waved flags. A stuffed Kiwi toy peeked his or her beak out of a backpack at the Puma Bar.
The little girls in black Emirates t-shirts scampered and played with their Barbie dolls. Ashby's Dad John, who lives in Australia, camped out under the Puma Bar stairs in the shade and helped keep an eye on the rambunctious family. The girls played ate watermelon, peaches and green grapes and sipped canned lemonade. Just another at the office for Dad.
Holly the tiny one, with a head of blond curls and pink cheeks, liked to show off her New Zealand pretend tattoo. She even took a picture using my camera by pressing the big silver button. Her grandfather helped her press down but he said she knows how to use an iPhone to select movies and watch them. "I don't even have an iPhone" he said. Holly the tiniest also has quite a voice on her though she doesn't quite talk yet. It's all about volume. Check out her work in the slideshow of this article.
Dad John chatted about the fourteen year old border collie at home with his wife. The dog should not travel such a long distance due to her age but she's dearly loved especially by Ashby's mother.
Ashby's wife Mel kept an eye on both girls, the four year old Laina named for something Hawaiian that means lovely warm place.
Grandfather John had asked if the girls wanted to watch Daddy on the big screen but they were busy chasing each other, trying to lift each other up. Holly, who doesn't talk yet, launched a loud and vocal protest which succeeded.
Meanwhile. Daddy finished up the conference with a room packed with press, taking his seat next to Dean Barker. Ashby even stayed behind when Barker headed down the pavillion to the dock to take a RIB back to the base with publicist Warren. I asked Ashby as the room cleared if he would like to be tactician again. Ashby said with a smile he would take anything next time around on a big foiling multi-hull.
For more information about the America's Cup: www.AmericasCup.com
Racing resumes on Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 1:15.
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.
For more stories by this writer check out CBS San Francisco's website under Eye on the Bay, San Francisco arts & culture "Best Of"; and San Francisco Arts & Culture on Examiner.com. Subscribe by hittng the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of this article.
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