The number one work-on for ETNZ is (still) getting off the start and around Mark 1 first. They were 0 for 3 today. They did not get smashed at the start and were much more assertive and made things happen - but they were not able to convert that into a lead around mark 1. It's going to get harder and harder to create a pass in these races, so sorting the starts and first reach is the highest priority.
The other key lesson: Mistakes will cost you.
At the top end of any sport the differences between competitors narrow. Sometimes there are athletes or teams who dominate, but more often the margins between winning and losing become smaller and smaller. This is what we are now seeing in this America's Cup. Races are now being decided by very small things.
On this first day of the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Challenger Final Playoffs I thought the critical call was what dagger-board foils to use. The wind forecast was at the cross over between the light wind foils (higher lift but higher drag) and the stronger wind foils (lower lift, lower drag and less stable). I was surprised that the decisions from the teams were the opposite to predictions. Artemis decided on their light wind foils, Emirates Team New Zealand on their higher wind configuration.
With these set-ups the lighter wind first race of the day should have been in Artemis' favour, but Emirates Team NZ had the edge and managed a come from behind win. This was set up by a beautiful foiling tack when 90% of the tacks for both yachts in that race had resulted in the hulls sitting down in the water for 10-15 seconds post-tack.
The breeze filled in to 12-13 knots for Races 2 and 3 and into the range where Emirates Team NZ should have had the edge with the foil package they had on. This was not the case. The boat speeds were really even and Artemis did what they do better than anyone else in this regatta, they defended a slim lead and gave no opportunities for the trailing boat. Both yachts had 100% fly time and were faultless. No mistakes and the yacht that leads around mark 1 wins. Well sailed Artemis.
Race 3 was the tightest of this regatta and it was great to see there was a conversation between Burling and ETNZ coaches Ray Davies and Murray Jones prior to the Race 3 start. The result was a different tactical approach where ETNZ were prepared to give up a little distance to Artemis to create the split. This allowed them to attack and made it much more difficult for Artemis to defend. The pressure came on Artemis and it was set up for a close pass from ETNZ when Outteridge slipped off the yacht during the final tack of the