By Richard Crockett
We were all promised some seriously good action last night, and it came in spectacular style in winds which were at the limit of racing in terms of the rules.
That pitchpole from Emirates Team New Zealand was as spectacular as it was sad.
Boat bits flying around during the races added more intrigue, as did the huge penalty the umpires hit Artemis with. All this added up to a spectacular day.
Let’s go back to ETNZ though. They have been the form team, of that there is no doubt. If anyone has the ability to beat the so-called American team (OTUSA) it is them. But with their boat in tatters and a shore team who had an all-nighter to pull last night, they are sure to be back in action today. But will they be as fast and clinical as they have been is the question – and the answer will become clearer during racing tonight (Wednesday).
Having had a wing problem on Monday, Sir Ben and his team look down and out. They looked like there was fight in them for the first race yesterday, but in the end they succumbed to the Kiwis. The second race was quite different though as Ainslie won the start in spectacular style, leaving the Kiwis in their wake. And as the Kiwis picked up speed they appeared to foil too high out of the water and then buried the bow in spectacular style, and for the world to witness.
This gifted Ainslie and his Land Rover BAR team a much need win, and give them a glimmer of hope to reach the challenger finals.
I doffed my cap to Ainslie who having heard about the ETNZ pitchpole, immediately dispatched his support boat to go and assist. That’s great sportsmanship – and indeed seamanship.
It was impressive how the ETNZ support boats and crew handled the situation. They were calm, collected and ever so professional – and with NO raised voices. They first checked that all crew were accounted for. Then they righted the capsized boat with crew still on their bikes in the cockpit many metres above the water.
So in the points tally Emirates Team New Zealand and Softbank Team Japan each have 3 wins from 4 races, and look to be the teams to go through to the challenger finals. But, this is sailing at the highest levels and anything can happen – remember the last America’s Cup finals when Oracle Team USA came from an 8-1 deficit to beat Emirates Team New Zealand. Anything is possible – so watch this space.