With almost 1000 spectator boats on the water and 18 knots of wind on the race course, tens of thousands of people gathered on Marina Green on Saturday to watch the penultimate day of racing in the AC World Series, in San Francisco. The standard was very high and there was a lot to see with, in particular, Oracle Team USA Spithill capsizing, which caused quite a fright in the first fleet race. After Saturday’s two fleet races, the French are in sixth place, finishing 6th and 7th as on the first day. Ben Ainslie came out on top again ahead of the rest of the fleet, confirming his position as leader in the overall rankings, while the American Defender James Spithill won the Match Racing Championship final by beating Artemis.
Fleet Race 5
The first fleet race of the day saw Oracle Team USA Spithill capsize and Emirates Team New Zealand achieve a great victory. Energy Team who got off in the second group (8th) rounded the first mark in 6th place. But the French made it back into the race and rounded mark 2 in 5thplace ahead of Ben Ainslie. The upwind leg was favourable for the French, who moved up to fourth and then third before a starboard move by China Team sent them back to seventh place at mark 3. The French gave nothing away and went on the attack again in the downwind leg, where they moved back up two places rounding mark 4 and 5 in fifth place. Ahead of them, Team Korea and Artemis White led the field ahead of Ben Ainslie, who got back up in the top three. Unfortunately, Loïck Peyron and his French crew lost some ground and finished this first race in sixth place.
Fleet Race 6
The French got off to a poor start crossing at the end of the line in ninth place and rounding the first mark in tenth position. This was a tough race for the Energy Team, who received a penalty in the third leg after an infringement on Team New Zealand. As in the previous race, the French climbed back to sixth place at mark 2, where they would more or less stay throughout the race finishing in seventh place in Fleet Race 6, led from start to finish by the talented British sailor, Ben Ainslie.
On the eve of the final day in the overall rankings, Energy Team is hanging on to sixth place, but it’s not over yet. Today will be Super Sunday with the final race weighted more heavily than the others in the fleet racing championship. It will be taking place on Sunday evening (European time). For viewers in France, the race will be shown live on Canal+ Sport from 2230hrs CET.
Loïck Peyron’s reaction: “Tonight we are in sixth place in the provisional rankings. We’re only three points off Jimmy Spithill and Nathan Outteridge, and hanging on in there. Today we had a few scares, in particular with a crazy manoeuvre made by Russell Coutts. Then we got a penalty from the Kiwis. As for the starts, we’re still finding ourselves behind, even if we catch up in the race afterwards. Tomorrow, we’re going to have to find a way through, like we did in Venice and Cascais.”
Fleet racing championship at the second America’s Cup World Series in San Francisco
(after 6 out of 7 races):
1. J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) 1-3-1-2-4-1 – 63 points
2. Artemis Racing – White (Terry Hutchinson) 10-2-2-1-3-3 – 52
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) 2-8-5-6-1-4 – 47
4. ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (Jimmy Spithill) 8-1-6-5-DNF-2 – 39
5. Artemis Racing – Red (Nathan Outteridge) 4-4-4-4-9-8 – 39
6. Energy Team (Loick Peyron) 6-7-7-3-6-7 – 36
7. Team Korea (Peter Burling) 5-9-10-8-2-5 – 33
8. ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS (Russell Coutts) 3-5-8-7-8-10 – 31
9. Luna Rossa Piranha (Chris Draper) 9-6-3-10-10-6 – 28
10. China Team (Phil Robertson) 7-10-11-9-5-11 – 19
11. Luna Rossa Swordfish (Iker Martinez) 11-11-9-11-7-9 – 14