35th America’s Cup Final – The Final Days

in #steemsports7 years ago


SteemSports Presenter: @sportsdesk


SteemSports General Manager: Nolan Jacobson, @theprophet0, STEEM Witness & PeerPlays Witness.


Prologue


It was an intriguing five days on Bermuda’s Great Sound waiting for the continuance of racing as both Oracle and Team NZ (TNZ) put in play their final boat tweaks in an effort to claim the oldest trophy in international sport. Oracle claimed they have found extra boat speed. But would it be enough? Observers claimed they still looked sloppy through manoeuvres and were yet to match the snappiness of the kiwis. Oracle had spent endless hours practicing out on the sound whereas the kiwis, having gone through the challenger semi-final and final series, took a couple of days off the water and on resumption stuck to a strict game-day schedule, training at race time only.
Off the sound, the kiwis hadn’t been idle either, adding further aerodynamics to their boat and other undisclosed adjustments. The Race Committee had finally come to their senses and added a 14th race should it be required. The measures were pouring daily over both boats to ensure modifications were within the rules. It wouldn’t be the first time the America’s cup has ended in court…

Racing


So to the racing, remembering TNZ led by 3-0 after winning the first four races (TNZ started on -1 – long story…). Conditions on day three for races five and six were light, in the 9-11 knot range which should suit TNZ. Even jostling in the start box for race five but once again Oracle were a bit trigger happy, over the line early and received a 2 boat penalty. The pressure from being slower and 3-0 behind was beginning to weigh perhaps. Rounding gate 2 Oracle were tight on TNZ’s heels. Oracle definitely appeared to have found extra boat speed in the break and forced a dial down on TNZ up the first upwind leg to take a narrow lead. Great tactics by TNZ as they hunted down Oracle and forced them to dial down on the next pass, giving TNZ back the lead. Oracle had to dial down just after tacking which is much more difficult and were penalized for not giving way sufficiently, incurring another 2 boat penalty. TNZ established a bit of a lead to round the next gate 26 sec ahead. Puffy conditions affected Oracle as they came off their foils under manoeuvre down the next leg and lost further ground. As had become habit for TNZ, once round the first gate ahead they hadn’t lost and they sailed away to win by such a large margin (2min 4sec) Oracle were barely in sight when TNZ crossed the line. That was five in a row for the kiwis, 4-0 in the series.
Starting the next race, another aggressive dust-up in the start box saw both teams cross the start line together. Oracle were in windward position on the first reach and rounded the first mark ahead. It was neck and neck for the next two legs but then TNZ read the shifty wind conditions, sailed a more aggressive angle and rounded the fourth gate 6sec ahead. Tacking like for like up the next upwind leg, and as both boats laid gate five from differing directions, Oracle forced TNZ to dial down, giving them a better angle and more speed into the mark. Oracle extended a small lead down the next leg to round the sixth gate ahead. A long sprint to the finish saw Oracle just hold off the charging kiwis to win by 11sec.
Oracle were back in the game though still 1-4 behind in the series. They’d sacrificed boat handling for speed and it had paid off in the last race as they’d matched the kiwis upwind speed. This had been the best match-race of the final series with the lead rarely at more than 100m at any time. Given the speeds these boats travel at that is like travelling bumper to bumper on the autobahn. The kiwis were hoping this would not be history repeating when in the last regatta in San Francisco, Oracle came back from 1-8 to win 9-8.

Match Point


Wind conditions for day four of finals racing were once again light in the 7-9 knots. A great start by TNZ helmsman Burling foxes Oracle and allowed TNZ to get over the line first. It was tight up the next leg but TNZ managed to stretch out a 500m lead over the next two legs. Oracle didn’t go away and found good wind shifts to reduce the lead, only to then throw in some extra manoeuvres and lose some of those gains. Oracle came back again and by the last gate the lead was reduced to 150m. TNZ held on in the final reach to win by 12sec.
Another great start by “Pistol Pete” Burling on TNZ in race eight as he boxed Oracle deep in the start box and then took off for TNZ to cross the start line 100m ahead. Burling actually took time to wave to Oracle as they took off. Oracle closed the gap up leg three but then threw in a mysterious tack that literally took the wind out of their sails. To compound matters, they then sailed out of bounds incurring a penalty so that by gate three TNZ was 36sec ahead. Oracle may need to talk to their software vendor – presumably themselves. The kiwis extended their lead following a poor rounding of the fourth gate by Oracle. Theme music “The Gambler” played on Oracle as they rounded the fifth gate, opting for a split course hoping for a hurricane to blow down their side of the course. Unfortunately stormy season is not for some time and TNZ sailed off for a comfortable victory by 30sec.
TNZ sailed clever on day four, winning both starts and mostly covering Oracle over the race course. They achieved 100% fly-time in both races, sailing clean and maintained their record of once ahead at the first gate never being beaten. They marched onto match point and if it wasn’t desperate times in the Oracle camp after last weekend’s first four races, it surely was following the last four. Only one more win required for TNZ to win the Auld Mug and “muzzle the pit-bull”.

When the America’s Cup once again became New Zealand’s Cup, light winds again in the range of 8-10 knots greeted racing on day five. It was an even start in race nine but Oracle to windward had more speed on and rounded the first gate ahead. The only other time they did this in the final series they went on to win the race. However a “no look” first gybe by TNZ early up the second leg took Oracle by surprise and allowed TNZ to roll over them and take the lead into the second gate. From then it was really a procession. Oracle opted to split the course for the first upwind but in doing so cost them more time. By the third gate TNZ’s lead was 26sec, by the fourth gate 35sec. TNZ tacked early to cover Oracle up the next upwind leg, giving up some of their lead but allowing them to control the race. At gate five the lead had reduced to 24sec. Oracle chose to split again at the next gate – it was their last roll of the dice. Unfortunately for Oracle it didn’t pay off as TNZ extended their lead. There was to be no fairy-tale comeback for Oracle this time as TNZ crossed the final finish line 55sec ahead to claim the 35th America’s Cup, winning the series 7-1.
To comeback from nearly destroying their boat in a pitch-pole incident earlier in the regatta, from off field adversity and a funding campaign only a scratch on Oracle’s resources, the better boat, the better sailing team, and the better software won the cup. TNZ were innovative in 1987 with a plastic boat that was extremely fast and radical, this time their major innovation were the cyclors providing the hydraulic oil to “run” the boat. Oracle were gracious in defeat, but in reality they were left little choice.
So, the America’s cup is destined to head to the South Pacific once again. There are many questions to be answered surrounding the next regatta, but we do know Oracle’s framework agreement can now be consigned to the bin. It is understood many syndicates had expressed interest should TNZ win the cup, syndicates like Alinghi and Luna Rossa, the latter now signed to be the next challenger on record for the 36th America’s cup. Will it remain multi-hulled, or revert to single-hull? This and many other questions will be answered in due course, but what can be done right now is to congratulate Bermuda on providing a spectacular setting and running an event, full of drama and intense match-racing, that was truly worthy of the 35th America’s cup.
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Thanks for sharing!

Cool. This isn't sailing anymore. It's low flying!

I've always thought this sport was cool, i guess i was right :D great post

Incredible competition!

great news for team NZ and well done with this blog - what a race series

Steemsports I luv ur all post man ...nice on

Thank you for valuable information

What a remarkable sport! Thank you for sharing the valuable information and beautiful photos @steemsports

Damn awesome, proud to be a Kiwi!

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