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America’s Cup Race 8: Oracle Alive as Kiwis Suffer Mishap

| September 14, 2013
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The latest: Races 11 and 12 May Be Postponed Because of Wind, Tide Conditions

Wrap up: The day ends with just one race run, Race 8 in the finals, won dramatically the Oracle Team USA. Race 9 is called off with Emirates Team New Zealand enjoying a small lead at the beginning of the third (upwind) leg. The standings:
Races: New Zealand 6, Oracle 2.
Points: New Zealand 6, USA 0 (Oracle Team USA’s second victory today works off the team’s two-race penalty.

Update:Race 9 is under way. Again, New Zealand enjoys a small lead at the start and past the first mark. NBC TV commentators say both of the 72-foot catamarans are flying at more than 50 mph. It’s a drag race, with the Kiwis leading Oracle by less than 100 meters. Turning upwind, the Kiwis lead by 7 seconds. BUT OFFICIALS HAVE CALLED OFF THE RACE BECAUSE THE WIND IS EXCEEDING THE REGATTA SAFETY LIMIT OF 22.6 KNOTS (about 26 mph). It’s clear watching this on the tube that the New Zealand crew wants to keep going. At first, they ignored the call to abandon, then just grudgingly acknowledged it. By way of explanation: This wind limit is a direct result of the Sweden/Team Artemis accident in May that killed British sailor Andrew Simpson. The proposed limit for racing before that tragedy was 33 knots.

If you’re following #AmericasCup on Twitter, there’s lots of comment about the irony of a sailing race being called on account of wind. And some New Zealanders (who needed to get up early Sunday morning to see today’s racing) are very unhappy with the cancellation:

Update: Here’s the video (by way of the America’s Cup site) of New Zealand’s near-capsize:

Update: Oracle wins Race 8 by 52 seconds. The USA crew stayed close on the crucial upwind leg and was able to take immediate advantage when New Zealand nearly capsized. The Kiwis simply couldn’t recover from that near disaster. But skipper Dean Barker says nothing’s wrong with the boat and the team is ready for Race 9.

From the official America’s Cup live blog:

ORACLE TEAM USA won its second race of the 34th America’s Cup, Race 8 of the series, when Emirates Team New Zealand nearly capsized on the upwind leg. The two crews had met four times on the upwind leg with the Kiwis holding the advantage. At the fifth meeting Emirates Team New Zealand went to tack to starboard but the wing didn’t pop through and the 72-foot long catamaran was on the edge of capsizing. ORACLE TEAM USA grabbed the lead and extended to win by 52 seconds.

“We’re all good; disappointed to let the lead go,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker. “They got nicely out of phase and chipped away. We didn’t get the hydraulics and if the wing doesn’t tack when the boat does, you’re in trouble… Fortunately the boat came up and no collision with the other guys.”


Emirates Team Zew Zealand and Oracle Team USA in pre-race maneuvers on Tuesday.  (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Emirates Team Zew Zealand and Oracle Team USA in pre-race maneuvers on Tuesday. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Original post: Race 8 is under way, with Emirates Team New Zealand winning the start and then getting into a tight battle with Oracle Team USA on the downwind first leg. The upwind legs have been the death of Oracle in these races so far, but Oracle has not only closed with the Kiwis today but passed them after the New Zealand catamaran suddenly heeled overdangerously to port, nearly capsizing, when they experienced a problem with their wing sail. The mishap allowed Oracle to round the third mark 28 seconds ahead of New Zealand—probably too big a lead for the Kiwis to erase on the last long downwind leg. Here’s the description of the Kiwis’ near-disaster:

ORACLE TEAM USA leads around the windward gate after a captivating beat. Emirates Team New Zealand was protecting its lead in four crossings up the leg until the fifth cross. Emirates Team New Zealand tried to tack to leeward but the wing didn’t pop to the new side and the boat nearly capsized. ORACLE TEAM USA led by 28 seconds at the gate.

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

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