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Capsizes Steal the Show in Chicago

A pair of spectacular capsizes kicked off the AC World Series event in Chicago.

© Ricardo Pinto / ACEA

The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series had its second American stop over the weekend, with racing on Saturday and Sunday on the fresh water of Lake Michigan.

Sweden’s Artemis Racing finished second, first and fourth in Chicago’s three AC World Series races.

© 2016 Sander van der Borch / Artemis Racing

Friday’s practice racing was undoubtedly the most exciting for fans, who watched two dramatic capsizes and contact between Groupama Team France and Land Rover BAR. Emirates Team New Zealand was the first to fall, capsizing late in a close match with Oracle Team USA. The Kiwis came off the foils, crashed down hard, and rolled onto their side, with some crew members falling off the boat or jumping off the top hull. All crew were safe and the Kiwis recovered quickly to start the next race just 15 minutes later.

Oracle flipped in the next race. With Artemis Racing approaching with rights, skipper Jimmy Spithill rolled into a quick maneuver to avoid a collision, and the crew didn’t have time to let off one of the lines, pinning the wing sail on the wrong side of the boat, resulting in a capsize. "It was really puffy conditions," said Tom Slingsby, Oracle’s tactician. "Two capsizes a few minutes apart after absolutely no capsizes at all in the entire series so far. The conditions made it tough for everyone with gusts up to 15-20 knots and sometimes people were getting caught out."

Groupama’s shore team manager Ben Wright explained what happened in the brush between the French and British teams: “Just after the start there was a port and starboard incident when BAR ducked our transom, but they didn’t quite make it and we had a little hook-up on the way through. The damage wasn’t particularly bad. It was in the back section of the boat where the rudder is mounted, so it is a little bit of a sensitive area, and even though it was a glancing blow off the back it still made a bit of a mess of it, so it was a bit of a long night for us making the repairs."

Saturday’s breeze was too light and unstable to start racing on time, so officials took Friday’s ‘substitute race’ and scored it as Race One. The victory in that race went to Kiwi skipper Dean Barker and his SoftBank Team Japan. Eventually the wind cooperated and the race window was extended beyond the initial 3 p.m. deadline for one late-afternoon race that could be used as substitute if needed on Sunday.

Oracle Team USA’s foiling AC45 catamaran appears to be leaping over this mark.

© 2016 Ricardo Pinto / ACEA

But the wind was just fine yesterday, and a record-breaking crowd of more than 200,000 fans packed Navy Pier, making Super Sunday indeed super. In the first race on Sunday, Land Rover BAR took the honors after a very strong start, leading throughout the race. In the next race, Groupama Team France won the start, but Artemis Racing grabbed the lead early and crossed the finish line first.

The last race began with five of the six teams crossing the start line together, but, after a slew of penalties was handed out, SoftBank Team Japan got clear air to lead the pack around the course, recording their second race win of the weekend.

SoftBank Team Japan skipper Dean Barker high-fives the fans on Saturday.

© 2016 Sam Greenfield / Oracle Team USA

“I’m absolutely thrilled with the performance of our team here,” said skipper Dean Barker. “It’s a great boost for our team and it’s really good to see that all the hard work we are doing is paying off, especially in front of such a great crowd.”

Artemis Racing tops the Chicago leaderboard, followed by Land Rover BAR and SoftBank Team Japan. Leading the series overall is Emirates Team New Zealand, followed by Land Rover BAR and Oracle Team USA.

With skipper Nathan Outteridge spraying the Moët, Artemis Racing celebrates their victory. Artemis sails for Kungliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet (KSSS, aka the Royal Swedish Yacht Club), the fifth-oldest yacht club in the world.

© 2016 Ricardo Pinto / ACEA

If you missed all the action this weekend, you can take advantage of NBC’s highlights program from the Chicago event on June 19 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. PDT.

The six teams will meet again on:

  • July 22-24 in Portsmouth, UK
  • September 8-10 in Toulon, France
  • November 18-20 in Fukuoka, Japan

 See for much more.

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