Oracle Team USA, led by Sir Ben Ainslie, crossed the final line of one of the most remarkable sporting comebacks on Wednesday, trouncing Emirates Team New Zealand by 44 seconds in San Francisco.
The victory had a bittersweet taste for the four-time champion, who lost his best friend, Olympic champion Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson, last May when he was capsized on the same San Francisco race course.
Jimmy Spithill, who led the ship and the team to their second America’s Cup trophey, was extremely excited after crossing the finish line.
“Oh man, what a race,” the Australian said. “We wouldn’t have had it any other way. To come from behind. Our guys showed so much heart. It really is about the team. I’m so proud of the boys. We were looking down the barrel of a gun.”
“Syd used to say to me when something was going good, ‘Be careful,’ ” Spithill said, “ ‘because you can be a rooster one day and a feather duster the next.’ ”
The race was help in perfect weather conditions with wind’s speed of around 19knots. The race got off to a clean start, the Kiwis opting for the left side of the course, which later brought them closer to the first mark as long as they could remain alongside Oracle.
“They just got better and better,” said Grant Dalton, the managing director of Team New Zealand, who was also part of the crew Wednesday.
“They got about a minute and a half faster on the beat than they were nine days ago. We were sort of 50 seconds a beat quicker, and now they’re 50 seconds quicker than us. So they’ve done a really amazing job to turn that around,”he concluded.
“The Americans made what could have been a crucial error on the run to the first mark, their bows dipping dramatically into the water as they rounded the first mark, but they recovered their composure well and trailed by less than 100metres for the entirety of the first downwind leg,” The Telegraph writes.
Russell Coutts, the most successful skipper in the American Cup’s modern history and Oracle’s chief, revealed to reporters some details, looking as relieved as he did delighted.
“The major changes in my view were the balance of the boat, where obviously the load sharing between the foils is critical, so we adjusted that quite a lot,” said Coutts, an engineer by education.
“We changed that loading by manipulating the wing shapes and flaps. So we didn’t actually change anything in a physical sense. We just changed the setting, so we more bottom-loaded the wing and more off-loaded that, and that created a different loading for the foils. And that was probably the biggest change we made.”
“And then there were a bunch of little changes that just reduced the drag a few kilos here and a few kilograms there, and all the sudden you have an edge.”
Coutts wen on, concluding that the other major factor was his team’s growing confidence in its yacht.“Everyone talks about the technology: ‘What changes did you make?’ ” Coutts said.
“The guys on board changed a lot. For sure there was a use of the technology change where we manipulated the force or manipulated the balance of those forces, but the guys on board the boat changed their technique, so there’s this fantastic human element to this which really won the day in the end, which is great.”