Hanging in the balance
By Roger Childs
It just feels like we are getting better each day. Jimmy Spithill Oracle’s Australian skipper
A disastrous day for Team New Zealand
Jimmy Spithill, the cocky Aussie on the tiller for Oracle, is not a popular figure in New Zealand. However, there is no denying his sailing skills. He has always been confident of success, even in the dark hours a week ago when Oracle was staring down the barrel of a 9-1 thrashing in the America’s Cup.
But not even he would have expected to be gifted two races by Team New Zealand as this amazing contest reaches it’s climax.
- Race 17: Team New Zealand is far too aggressive at the start, fails to give way and earns two penalties. Race over.
- Race 18: At last Team New Zealand wins another start and rounds the first marker ahead. Then it fails to cover the fast moving Oracle which pushes out the lead to over a kilometre on the fourth leg and cruises home.
So it’s 8-8 and in actual races on the water, 10-8 to Oracle. Tomorrow, weather permitting it’s sudden death, something unthinkable just a week ago.
New Zealand has played a big part in Oracle’s success
New Zealand has been a key player in the Oracle campaign and if the USA boat wins, can take a lot of credit.
- The boat was largely built by Core Builders Composites in Warkworth.
- The wily Russell Coutts is Oracle’s CEO. He was born in Wellington and won the America’s Cup for New Zealand in 1995.
- 10 days ago Core Builders sent over experts with equipment to do modifications.
- There are New Zealanders in the Oracle crew.
Obviously this is not the credit the country wants. A win by Team New Zealand on Thursday is the only acceptable outcome for Kiwis.
It’s never over…
They say it’s not over until the fat lady sings. She has not been seen in San Francisco over the last week but tomorrow will be heading for the wharves. At 8-1 to Team New Zealand, the TAB closed the book on this year’s America’s Cup. Bets are now on again and, unlike earlier, it would be a brave person who would put money on the Kiwi boat.
There is no question that much improved sailing, smarter tactics, fewer mistakes and greater boat speed have brought Oracle success in the last seven races. Team New Zealand can still win the Auld mug, but it will take a huge effort and mistake-free sailing.
In race 18 they had the early lead, but failed to cover Oracle’s dash on the second leg. There is no room for error in the sudden death final race, otherwise the America’s Cup will stay in San Fransisco .