America's Cup: Crew ruing unlucky race 13

By Dana Johannsen

Dean Barker was hurting. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Dean Barker was hurting. Photo / Brett Phibbs

It was the one that got away ... twice.

Race 13 of the America's Cup match provided a double dose of frustration for Team New Zealand. Having been beaten by the clock in the first sailing of the race, the Kiwi team squandered a strong start when the race was later re-sailed - blowing an opportunity to clinch the Auld Mug.

While Kiwi fans will focus on the cruel twist of fate that saw the race abandoned when Team NZ were 1.5km in front and just one leg away from clinching victory, it will be tactical errors in the second sailing of the race that will be playing on the minds of the New Zealand crew.

Getting away to a strong start has proved crucial to date and Team NZ will be kicking themselves for squandering a promising position.

Having led by four seconds at the first mark, tactician Ray Davies said his team's first error was failing to cover Oracle early on in the run.

"We could have kept the first run tighter than we did. In those conditions you sort of have to sail your own race a little bit," said Davies. "I was looking for some pressure to leeward and missed the moment they set up for their first gybe so that put us a little out of sync with them and that set us up for a tough situation down the run."

Team NZ found themselves in further trouble at the first cross when they copped a port-starboard penalty for failing to give way to Oracle on starboard. Davies said had they managed to pull off the move and keep clear, it would have placed them in a controlling position but they under-estimated the speed loss in the gybe in the lighter conditions.

The penalty did not affect Team NZ too badly as they only had to allow Oracle get a two-boat length advantage, which they already pretty much had.

The real damage was done at the bottom mark, where a late decision to change the gate they intended to round, saw Team NZ slow to 3.5 knots and lose about 200 metres.

After putting pressure on Oracle coming into the gate, Davies said it was disappointing to throw it away.

"We got right back in there, it was all on at the bottom. Oracle overlaid the mark and that gave us the opportunity to get right back in there but we sort of pooched it a bit at the bottom mark and that gave them a pretty healthy lead heading the right way, so that was pretty much the race there."

- Herald on Sunday

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