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Spectacular America's Cup Final Race Today

September 25, 2013 – San Francisco Bay


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

No one thought it would ever come down to the 19th race! © 2017 Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA

Thanks to an improbably spectacular America's Cup, Oracle's improbably exciting comeback from an 8 to 1 defecit, and the improbably dazzling AC72s, today's final showdown between Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand is one for the ages of not just yacht racing, but all of sport. As a result, it's getting unprecedented mainstream media coverage and has converted lots of folks who previously had no interest in sailing.

Today's race wouldn't be happening if Oracle hadn't won both races yesterday to extend their winning streak to seven, to tie New Zealand 8 to 8. In yesterday's breezy first race, the Kiwis approached the starting line a little too early, which gave Oracle's always-aggressive Jimmy Spithill the opportunity to put two penalties on them right at the start. While the Kiwis threatened a couple of times to make it a close race, Oracle prevailed by 27 seconds. The vibe at the Cup Village was now predominanatly pro-Oracle after so many Kiwis have had to go home because the event was supposed to have ended on Sunday.

After a considerable drought, the Kiwi's Dean Barker got the jump on Oracle in the critical second race, to lead at both the reaching mark and the leeward mark. It was on the beat for tidal relief in the cone of Alcatraz that the winner of the Cup was likely revealed. The Kiwis, with an ever-so-slight lead, tacked back to port to work the cone of Alcatraz with Oracle, which was also on port, but closing at high speed on their windward hip. The Kiwis were able to accelerate out of their tack so the two boats were side by side at nearly identical speed. Then Oracle started to foil to weather, the result being the same as if she'd turned on turbochargers. She pulled ahead, tacked with the lead, and continued on to win by such a large margin — 54 seconds — that it may have broken the back of the Kiwi effort.

Indeed, at the press conference following the race, Kiwi's Dean Barker and Glenn Ashby all but marveled at Oracle's new found upwind speed. "We'll do our best tomorrow," Barker said. That's all anybody can do, of course, but it's a bit of a loser's mantra.

Oracle's Spithill, on the other hand, sounded much more confident, repeating for the umpteenth time how the team's many adversities had only made them stronger. When asked how he felt before the seven-race winning streak, when they were down 8 to 1, he replied, "You can either get yourself wobbly at the knees or you can just look straight down the barrel [of the gun] and smile." It should come as no surprise that Spithill is an amateur boxer.

We put Oracle's chances of victory today at 80% — even if they lose the start. The boats might be almost even downwind, but in a stark reversal from the first half of the series, Oracle is now superior upwind. They've been able to foil to weather quicker, longer and more effectively than the Kiwis, which has given them a big advantage in windward ability — and confidence. Oracle can come from behind, the Kiwis can't.

Make no mistake, the Kiwis do have a chance to win, but they'll need a combination of a great start, perfect tactics, and a little luck. When it comes to luck, the Kiwis have clearly gotten the short end of the stick during the Cup. Remember, they were almost a kilometer ahead of Oracle in the light-air race that was called for exceeding the time limit. Had the race limit been 45 minutes instead of 40, or the course a mile shorter, the Cup would have arrived in Auckland about a week ago.

The Golden Rule is the likely answer to how it can be that Oracle now has the faster cat. You know the Golden Rule, don't you? He with the most gold rules. Here's how we think — but don't know for sure — it's playing out in the America's Cup. The much better-funded Oracle has a big shore team of data analysts, designers, boatbuilders and whatever. As Spithill has repeatedly said, these guys have been staying up very late each night analyzing the boat's daily performance, coming up with improvements, and implementing them in time for the next day's race. We're talking about changes to the foils, the rake of the masts and we're not sure what else. Oracle has made at least 15 modifications so far, while the Kiwis, who don't have the same unlimited resources, have made about half that. To non-sailors, small changes in the boats may seem like they couldn't make huge differences, but they do, particularly when the designs are so new.


Rather than give the keynote speech at Oracle OpenWorld, Larry Ellison elected to watch yesterday's racing with Russell Coutts. At least the man has his priorities right. © 2017 Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA

Oracle's Larry Ellison has so many mansions, yachts, jets, islands and what not, that we've always wondered how much he really cared about the America's Cup. Was it something he was involved in because you gotta do something with the spare tens of billions you have lying around, or was he truly passionate about sailing. That question was emphatically answered by his actions yesterday. Slated to give the important 'Cloud Keynote' speech at Oracle OpenWorld, the conference in San Francisco that more than 60,000 people from around the world have paid $2,500 to $3,000 to attend, Ellison not only kept the crowd waiting for 45 minutes, he ended up being a no-show. When it was announced that an underling rather than Ellison would give the important presentation, many of the miffed attendees walked out. This 'what's-more-important-to-me' move was commented on immediately by both the Wall Street Journal and on CNBC.

A month ago we figured the chances of the America's Cup being held on San Francisco Bay again were about zero. They are much higher now, thanks to the very good chance Oracle will retain the Cup, and the fact that many officials and locals are now realzing that, while the initial wildly optimistic expectations for the event could never be met, it still might be an excellent event for the Bay and the region. To date, more than 1,000,000 people are reported to have come into the America's Cup compounds, although we have no idea what's meant by 'compound'. Were there another America's Cup to be held in San Francisco, in less expensive boats that would encourage much greater participation, we believe there would be an exponential increase in the number of sailors and superyachts from around the world that wouldn't miss it for anything.


Play hookey if you can. Today's lone race -- assuming it's not postponed -- will go down in the history books. © 2017 Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA

Speaking of things not to miss, history will be made starting at 1:15 this afternoon. You don't want to miss it. As a nearly deliriously happy Lynn Ringseis of Novato told us yesterday, "I'm the biggest Giants fan there is, but this America's Cup has been way more exciting than either time the Giants won the World Series." How about them baseballs?

- latitude / richard

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The Little America's Cup

September 25, 2013 – Falmouth, England


French dynamo Franck Cammas is racing in the America's Cup . . . the Little America's Cup in Falmouth, England. © 2017 Meredith Block

As the 34th America’s Cup winds down to a thrilling finish, there’s another America’s Cup going on that is likely off your radar: the International C Class Catamaran Championship, also known as the ‘Little America’s Cup’ which is taking place right now in Falmouth, England. In 1959, two Englishman threw down a challenge against the New York based Hellcat, which was claimed to be the fastest sailboat in the world at the time. What has ensued since then is more than 50 years of thrilling racing that has done nothing but push the performance envelope and drive innovation.

In fact, much of the current AC72’s DNA is derived directly from the C-Class cat which has seen carbon-fiber wing-sailed catamarans for years. With seemingly everything on the planet being modified to foil in the past year, the C-Class is no different. These guys have been playing with the boards for years. When engineering daggerboards and foils, there’s almost no one better than Franck Cammas. Former around-the-world record holder and Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper of Groupama 3 and Groupama, Cammas is now well on his way to adding the C-Class champion to his über-impressive rockstar resumé. With arguably the most advanced foils in the fleet, Groupama C has seen speeds over 30 knots, while foiling.

With two out of three qualifying days completed, the French Groupama C has dominated to claim five wins and a second in the 11-boat fleet. Firmly in second place is Swiss entry Hydros. After the next day of fleet racing, the top two will match race for the title while the rest of the fleet will race for positions 3-11. Follow the foils on the event website.

- ronnie simpson

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September 25, 2013 – Bradenton, FL

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© 2017 Seaworthy Goods / www.seaworthygoods.com

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Weekend Racing Wrap-Up

September 25, 2013 – USA and Marseille, France

With heart-pounding excitement drawing everyone's attention to the America's Cup, it's amazing that anyone's been able to catch their breath long enough to sail in their own races. But these sailors have.

Weta
This Kiwi had a better weekend than some of his countrymen. © 2017 Jennifer Kroon / www.jenniferkroonphotography.com

At Richmond YC's Multihull Invitational over the weekend, Miranda Powrie of Weta Marine observed "a tricky tidal and shifty race course with a great although sometimes distracting view of the America's Cup racing." The Weta West Coast Championship is part of the bigger regatta. Chris Kitchen dominated the class of singlehanded trimarans, reports Powrie, "making most of his gains downwind and in the starts." See results at www.richmondyc.org, and read more in the October issue of Latitude 38.

Barth Race
Rick Dalton's Hunter 380 Iowa sailed on the South Bay under dramatic skies in Saturday's Barth Race. © 2017 Ian McGee

The Barth Memorial Race between Sequoia and Coyote Point YCs was held on Saturday, with visibility deteriorating as the rain increased on the South Bay. The race started in SeqYC's stomping grounds south of the San Mateo Bridge and headed north through the main span of the bridge into CPYC territory. Through a strong team effort, SeqYC retained the trophy. See results at www.sequoiayc.org.

Despite some unseasonal rain, seven teams of Vanguard 15 sailors showed up at Treasure Island Saturday morning to participate in the first ever SailCycle random pairs regatta. While the breeze was too fluky for the America's Cup, the dinghy racers had a puffy westerly at TI that started light but built into the low teens by the day's end. "We sailed fourteen competitive races and ended the day with a cookout," wrote Ben Pedrick, who won the regatta. "Thanks to those of you who let us use your boats." Sunday's cycling failed to materialize, but the fleet is hoping to run a similar event at the beginning of next season.

Keelhaulers
The Cal Maritime Keelhaulers raced in Annapolis over the weekend. Left to right: Corey Lynch, '17, bow; Ryan Lynch, '14, mast; Chris Vilicich, '16, pit; Eileen Welch, '15, floater; Andrew Lamb, '14, trimmer; Harry Antrobus, '15, offside trimmer; Scott Doyle, '14, main trim/tactics; Dillon Lancaster, '14, helm. © 2017 Cal Maritime Academy

Ten teams turned up in Annapolis over the weekend for the Shields Trophy Regatta, the trophy for service and maritime schools sailed in the Naval Academy's fleet of 44-ft sloops. Vallejo's Cal Maritime Academy took the lead on Saturday in big wind and waves on Chesapeake Bay. Conditions were milder on Sunday, and Navy won on a tie-breaker. We'll have more in October's Racing Sheet.

At the Yacht Clubs of Long Beach Charity Regatta, the ladies, competing on equal terms with the men, won three of nine classes. Lynsie Gibbons of San Diego's Southwestern YC led the four Catalina 37s, all of them skippered by (and mostly crewed by) women. Alamitos Bay YC's Jane McNaboe won Senior Sabots, and Julia Golison, age 12, won Junior Sabots against mostly boys. The regatta benefits the Children's Clinic. For results, see www.abyc.org and www.lbyc.org.

The U.S. Match Racing Championship in Sheboygan, WI, culminated on Sunday in the clash of the Daves (Dellenbaugh defeated Perry), but third place went to Scott Dickson of Long Beach. Speaking of third place finishers from California, Deneen Demourkas of Santa Barbara took that podium position in the Melges 32 Worlds the same day in Porto Rotondo, Italy. Francesco Bruni, recently seen in the afterguard of Luna Rossa, called tactics on Demourkas' Groovederci.

The 49er Worlds are in the midst of the qualifiers in Marseille, France. Racing concludes with the finals on September 29. West Coast sailors among the 151 teams registered include Kristen Lane of Tiburon, Christine Neville of Oakland, Paris Henken of Coronado, CA, and Helena Scutt of Kirkland, WA. Molly Vandemoer of Redwood City is crewing for Anna Tunnicliffe, Zach Brown of San Diego is crewing for Fred Strammer, and Hans Henken of Coronado is crewing for Trevor Moore.

"All regattas must come to an end…" writes Al Sargent. "No, I'm not referring to the America's Cup. I'm referring to a series that goes even longer, if you can believe it – our own Thursday Night Series at Treasure Island Sailing Center. After tomorrow, you'll have to wait 189 days to squeeze in 6, sometimes 7 races in a single night." Vanguard 15 sailors sign up at http://vanguard15.org and Laser sailors sign up at http://tilaserfleet.org.

- latitude / chris

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