Yachting: Errors cost Team NZ in match race final

By Dana Johannsen of the New Zealand Herald in San Francisco

Team New Zealand's final of the match racing championship at the America's Cup World Series in San Francisco was over before it began after an error in the start box cost them the race. Photo / AP
Team New Zealand's final of the match racing championship at the America's Cup World Series in San Francisco was over before it began after an error in the start box cost them the race. Photo / AP

Team New Zealand's final of the match racing championship at the America's Cup World Series in San Francisco was over before it began after an error in the start box cost them the race.

The Kiwi team were soundly beaten by Jimmy Spithill's Oracle crew after they gifted their rivals a massive advantage off the startline.

With 30 seconds remaining in the start sequence, Dean Barker's crew looked to be in a strong position but they timed their run at the line poorly, allowing Oracle to come up underneath them and pin them up against the committee boat.

That forced Team New Zealand to perform a full turn to get themselves across the startline. By that stage, Oracle had powered out to a sizeable lead and their 32-second advantage at the first mark proved unassailable on the short course.

"There was a lot of time to go and [Barker] was just way too early, so we just bided our time and waited for them to pull up," Spithill said.

Spithill was lucky to even make the startline for the final after a dramatic capsize earlier in afternoon in the first of the fleet races.

The Oracle boat was in second at the first reach mark when he bore off in a strong puff, causing the bows to dig in. The boat stood straight up, before it came crashing down on its port side, narrowly avoiding a pile-up with one of the Artemis boats.

Both the crew and the catamaran came through the capsize unscathed, and were able to return for the second fleet race of the day.

Having bounced back with a second in the second fleet race, and then a win in the final of the match-racing, Spithill was able to laugh off the incident.

"I was just trying to put on a good show for the hometown crowd," he laughed.

Aside from a forgettable final, Team New Zealand had their best day on the water in the regatta.

They made a strong start to the day, beating Artemis Red, helmed by Nathan Outteridge, in the semifinal.

Outteridge had the better start, with Team New Zealand slow off the line after trying to hook the Swedish team in the start box. But a bad tactical error on the first run saw Artemis surrender their advantage, after Outteridge tried to gybe to port but ran afoul of Barker on starboard tack and incurred a penalty.

From there, Team New Zealand seized control, powering away to take an 18-second win.

Ten minutes after their semifinal win, Team New Zealand were back in the startbox for the fleet race.

Building on the momentum from their match-race win, Barker took the lead from the start and never looked back, taking a wire-to-wire win.

A fourth placing in the second fleet race saw Team New Zealand move up to third in the overall standings, heading into the final race tomorrow.

- APNZ

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