AC: Katie’s perspective on New Zealand & Team Oracle

Watching the AC on my iPhone between legislative sessions 🙂

America’s Cup races 7 and 8 are today here in San Francisco. The weather is predicted to be windy. There is a max wind limit for racing of 23 knots that gets adjusted for tidal flow (tide out the bay lowers the wind limit while tide flooding in raises it because of waves effect). Racing so far has been exciting albeit one-sided with the New Zealand team dominating.

AC US & NZ flying

This past week was the end of the California state Legislature’s legislative session. Between monitoring floor sessions and talking to legislative staff in the Capitol, I would find a bench to sit and watch Americas cup racing own my iPhone. God bless technology! The same story played out though- Oracle racing coming up short again and again. Even a significant crew change (changing tactician American John Kostecki out and bringing in British Ben Ainslie) and some design tweaks have not helped to this point. Currently ETNZ is up 6 races to negative 1 of Oracle. Why negative for USA? Because they got caught cheating in the Americas cup World Series raced in the AC 45’s. Although some have complained that the two point penalty they incurred was draconian for racing in what some have characterized is a farm league, it was part and parcel of the Cup and Protocol designed by Oracle. As was the removal of any appeals process.

Oracle appears a bit faster downwind but ETNZ is faster upwind. Even when Oracle has led, ETNZ gets around them on leg three – the long upwind leg. Some mistakes in tactics by Oracle let ETNZ get by easier but its tough holding off a competitor that is faster. Unique to this Cup, the course is not being adjusted for wind changes which has resulted in skewed courses making it harder to find something to catch up or pass a team ahead. As a competitor I can tell you there is a certain horror you feel when you first realize that your boat is lacking a speed gear or is not as fast as your competitor. I saw that in Oracle in the first couple of races. After that realization there’s a certain resolution and examination of what the options are because not doing anything is NOT one of them. If you listen to the press conference of Oracle and ETNZ after Tuesday- Spithill (driver of Oracle) conveys that very clearly.

AC Orcale

There are two races today scheduled and two tomorrow. If Oracle does not pull a design rabbit out of the hat, then ETNZ could be winners of the Americas Cup tomorrow. I know that the sailors on both teams are trying to take it one race at a time because anything can and will happen. But for Oracle if the design team hasn’t come up with something, the sailors on Oracle are going to have to continue to look for Hail Mary passes. That’s a tough mindset to play from.