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Gary Jobson's Notes from the 34th America's Cup

The America's Cup Trophy. Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget.

The America's Cup Trophy. Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget.

Gary Jobson, President of the National Sailing Hall of Fame, is posting a series of notes on the America's Cup, which began with his thoughts during the Louis Vuitton Cup and will continue each race day during the America's Cup.



Note 11: A New Sport Emerges PDF Print

Gary Jobson, covering the 34th America's Cup from onboard the committee boat (photo credit: Steven Tsuchiya)

By Gary Jobson, President
National Sailing Hall of Fame

September 15, 2013

    When I arrived off the water this afternoon following two thrilling America's Cup races, my co-commentator, Ken Read, said, "Sailing will never be the same." The vision Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts had about high-speed catamarans racing up and down San Francisco Bay is now a reality. Sure, it got off to a slow start in July, but today was some of the most exciting racing I have witnessed as a competitor or spectator. We may never see a spectacle like this again, but right now the 34th America's Cup defense is proving to be sports theater at its best.

    The day started with the westerly breeze blowing in at 20 knots, with a swift current ebbing at 2.2 knots. There was a steep chop. At the start of Race Nine, Oracle Team USA, led by Australian skipper, James Spithill, clobbered Emirates Team New Zealand's skipper, Dean Barker. The Kiwis were three lengths behind at the first turning mark. Downwind the boats appeared to be even in speed. At the leeward gate, the boats split to opposite sides of the course. OTUSA's superstar tactician, Ben Ainslie, found the best current and wind to stretch their lead. At one point ETNZ was foiling upwind at 32 knots. They were able to do this by sailing a slightly lower course. But they gave away too much windward distance to gain any ground on the American team. The wind behaved and stayed just below the 20.8-knot wind limit. When Spithill and crew crossed the finish line, team owner Larry Ellison raised both arms in triumph. I think he was just as happy for this team as he was that his vision of the America's Cup was working.

    Once again, there were huge crowds on the San Francisco waterfront, along with about 500 vessels of all sizes out on the bay. I call the race from the race committee boat, Regardless, while my colleagues, Todd Harris and Ken Read, work from shore. Today, I had the better seat. We were close to the action and you could see the subtle course changes and sailing techniques on these short 21-25 minute races. The courses are ten miles long. As an aside, I think they should include two more legs and be 40 minutes in length.

    In Race Two, Spithill was slightly ahead and to windward at the start. Approaching the first turn OTUSA went off their foils for just one second, allowing ETNZ to hold on to a slim overlap. Barker took a very wide turn, forcing Spithill to wait to bear away on Leg Two. The move gave the Kiwis a four-length lead. Downwind nothing changed. At the leeward gate the two boats split tacks again. Back on the wind, the USA started gaining. They appeared to be a little faster. On the third cross, Barker had to dip behind Spithill, who was on starboard with the right of way. The very next cross saw the boats change leads again, when Spithill dipped below Barker. The race was riveting.

    Approaching the windward gate, OTUSA was on starboard approaching the left gate. Barker slowed his boat down to cross behind Spithill, but rounded the right side gate. They were only one second apart. Ainslie called for OTUSA to sail down the city front, and New Zealand's tactician, Ray Davies, elected to sail out in the bay. When the boats converged it looked even. The Kiwis were on starboard. Spithill slowed down to give way. New Zealand took the lead and held on to the finish. The boats split wins for the day, and the score now stands 7-1. ETNZ needs two more wins to claim the America's Cup. OTUSA needs 8 more wins. It sounds daunting, but Spithill sounds very determined to turn the tide. The American design and shore crew have found ways to lighten the boat, move some weight around and make several small modifications. The changes have helped the USA level the playing field. We have seen ten starts now. By my scorecard Spithill and Barker have each won five.

    With the boats so even, the premium on the start, good boat handling and clever tactics will likely be make the difference in the Cup. On television the boats look great, but in person they are even more impressive. The speed, size and power of these machines is inspiring. To paraphrase a Yogi Berra comment, “They are even better looking than they look."

    On the leaderboard the American team is deep. But I think they can still win. Monday is a scheduled lay day. OTUSA gets better every time they go into the shed for modifications. New Zealand needs to be careful not to stay in one place. They have the luxury of making some experimental changes and if they loose two races they can easily go back to an earlier measurement configuration. One thing we have learned is that Spithill, Ainslie and their team are getting better, and will continue to improve.

    Tuesday the wind is forecasted to be strong again. If we are able to race, OTUSA will be fast. However, I wonder if they have given away some of their light air speed to gain in a strong breeze? The measurers allow new certificates every day. OTUSA cannot afford to make any mistakes with their modifications or sailing. They can only afford to lose one more race. The Kiwis certainly like the score, but they are up against a very determined crew that looks like they are getting better every day. Just last week the American team lost ground on every tack. Now both boats are even when maneuvering.

    Emirates Team New Zealand's syndicate head, Grant Dalton, sailed both races today. He was off the boat during the team's only two loses versus six wins when he was on-board. He did get his first loss today, but I think his presence was helpful in getting ready for the second heat, which they won.

    A picture of the legendary Sir Peter Blake is on the wall of the entryway at the New Zealand team base. Sir Peter won around the world races, and led the New Zealand America's Cup team to victory in 1995 as a challenger, and in 2000 as a defender. Blake was killed by thieves in Brazil in 2001. Blake was known for wearing red socks as his good luck charm. In 1995 everyone in New Zealand was wearing red socks. Grant Dalton is one tough 56-year old who has won round the world races, and came close to winning the America's Cup in 2007. The Kiwis certainly gain inspiration from the memory of Peter Blake. Grant Dalton is working hard to honor his one time rival and friend. I doubt Dalton knows the story, but let's just say the team wants to win one for the Gipper. As for the America's Cup, it's hard to imagine what scenario could possibly top what we are watching? An American comeback maybe?

 
Note 10: America's Cup Drama PDF Print

Gary Jobson, covering the 34th America's Cup from onboard the committee boat (photo credit: Steven Tsuchiya)

By Gary Jobson, President
National Sailing Hall of Fame

September 14, 2013

    The sight of Emirates Team New Zealand teetering on its side was frightening. I’ll bet that the entire population of that small country held its collective breath at that moment. On the third leg of the ten-mile course in Race Eight of the America's Cup, the Kiwis lost control of their AC 72. During a routine tacking maneuver, about two boat lengths away from the American boat, the wing of NZL inverted. The boat dangerously heeled over at a 45-degree angle. The Kiwi helmsman, Dean Barker, skillfully kept the boat from capsizing. The hydraulic system that controls the wing did not have enough power to shift the wing to the other side. The crew kept desperately grinding the winches to boost the hydraulic's power. It was close. I was watching just six boat lengths away aboard the race committee boat. All of us on board were stunned. Just as it looked like the boat was going to crash, the wing shifted, and the boat settled back down on both its hulls. In the process they fouled the USA. But that was least their problems. OTUSA sailed away for an easy win. Had the boat capsized, it would have been a complete disaster for the Kiwi team. Happily no one was hurt and they survived.

    With this victory Oracle Team USA's score improves to zero after erasing a two-point deficit that the International Jury accessed for their unauthorized modifications to their AC 45s last year in the America's Cup World Series. One thing we learned today is that this America's Cup is far from over. OTUSA skipper James Spithill says his team is hungry and motivated to successfully defend. The American team needs to win nine more races, while New Zealand needs to win three.

    Oracle Team USA is getting better, and the races are thrilling. We have now seen more passing in this Cup than any other America's Cup dating back to the first defense in 1870. The races have lasted anywhere from 22 to 32 minutes. Based on the scorecard in the first eight heats there are going to be more passes. We also have had more races in this Cup than any in the past. Twice there were seven races – 1983 and 2007.

    A lay day on Friday was a huge benefit for the American squad. The sailors and the designers made a number of small changes to the boat that added up to a big improvement in speed. To my eye, they might have lost a little downwind speed, but more than made up for it with very impressive speed to windward. It makes me wonder if the Kiwis were a little rattled when they no longer had a windward speed advantage like we saw in the two races last Thursday.

    The breeze today was strong, ranging from 17 to 21 knots in the first race. The ebb current pushed against the SW wind to create a nasty chop. In the past seven races the Kiwis always seemed to gain while tacking, but not today. The only noticeable difference aboard ETNZ was that their CEO, Grant Dalton, was not on board. He has been off the boat for both of their two loses, and on board for all of their six wins. I have a gut feeling Grant will be back on board for Sunday's two races.

    Four-time Olympic champion Ben Ainslie was back as tactician on OTUSA. He made the correct tactical calls throughout the race. It does not look like the American tactician, John Kostecki, will be back on the crew. Ainslie and strategist Tom Slingsby have a constant dialog going. Keep in mind that both Slingsby and Ainslie have won Olympic Gold medals in singlehanded dinghy classes. I think they are enjoying the interplay. As tactician, Ainslie always makes the final call. Although a skipper can always overrule a tactician, Spithill seems comfortable with the new line up.

    The intellectual battle between Ainslie and NZL tactician Ray Davies will be epic. If the speeds are as even as they now appear to be, the America's Cup could be decided on tactics.

    The scene in San Francisco around the waterfront is vibrant. The crowds in the America's Cup village and on the water are big. OTUSA's leaders Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts had a bold vision. The event got off to a slow start, but clearly it is going well now. The best part is, that no one can really say with any certainty who is going to win. Sure, NZL is up on points, but the old adage that the team is going to take it one race at a time is Spithill's mantra. His crew believes they can do it. New Zealand cannot afford to make any more mistakes.

    Dean Barker did win the first start, and easily won the second start of the late afternoon race. NZL held a three-boat length lead on Leg Three of the second race, but the race committee abandoned the race when the wind went over the 22.6-knot limit for five consecutive minutes. The comeback certainly gives the Kiwis some confidence going forward. Tomorrow the wind is forecasted to be a little lighter. The ebb current will also be less. NZL seems to be most competitive relative to OTUSA when the wind is 15-19 knots. At a post race press conference, Spithill said they have some more changes to make. Two races are scheduled for Sunday, while Monday is a scheduled lay day. The racing will continue again on Tuesday. Both teams can take some positive thoughts forward. If NZL can recover and win two races tomorrow they will be well on their way to reclaiming the Cup. If the USA wins two races, this series will be wide open.

    Our coverage begins Sunday on the NBC Sports Network with a pre-race show at 3:30 pm Eastern time (12:30 PT). The first race is scheduled to start at 4:15 ET, (1:15 PT). 

 

 
Note 9: Kiwi Power PDF Print

By Gary Jobson, President
National Sailing Hall of Fame

September 13, 2013

    For the first time in my sailing career I saw the perfect start. I mean PERFECT. In Race 8 of the 34th America's Cup defense, New Zealand's skipper Dean Barker approached the starting line to windward and ahead of Oracle Team USA's Australian skipper, James Spithill. In seven previous races Barker has won two starts, while Spithill has taken the other five. The Kiwis have been dominant throughout the series, except for the starts. After race six, I asked Barker what he was going to do to improve? Through gritted teeth he simply said he needed to do better. And boy did he deliver.

    When the gun fired, Emirates Team New Zealand was exactly on the line. The screen grab showed they were just two inches behind the line. The boat was sailing at 41.2 knots! In contrast, Spithill was late to accelerate and quickly fell behind. OTUSA's owner Larry Ellison was in a tender alongside the race committee boat where I call the action for the NBC Sports Network, along with Todd Harris and Kenny Read. Ellison put his head down when he saw his team lose the start. He must have realized at that moment that the America's Cup was slipping from his grasp.

    Two weeks ago I predicted in my pre-America's Cup report that OTUSA would defend...barely. I got it wrong. New Zealand is going to win big and here's why.

    The Kiwi boat is faster through tacks, is lightning quick up wind, their management is focused, and the team is a smooth-running operation. I spent some time with them on Wednesday and visited every part of their compound. There are no politics. The 107 workers are all fully engaged with their assigned duties. Barker was reviewing tactics with coach Rod Davis. The designers were at their computers. Workers had the boat apart and were servicing every component. I spoke with tactician Ray Davies. He is having a good time sailing. His big smile, friendly demeanor and impressive record on the water were in sharp contrast to the turmoil over in the American camp.

     James Spithill decided to replace his long-time tactician John Kostecki with four-time British Olympic Champion Ben Ainslie. On Day Four of the AC, Ainslie did a fine job working with Australian strategist and Olympic Champion Tom Slingsby, but the boat is just not up to speed. Until last week, OTUSA's New Zealander CEO Russell Coutts had never lost a single race. Now his team has lost seven.

     With Kostecki benched there is now only one American sailor on the American boat. I sure hope New Zealand returns the Cup to all national crews as the author of the America's Cup Deed of Gift, George Steers, envisioned. I will have more about that later.

    So what has New Zealand done so well? Sailing through tacks, the fuller hull shape helps the boat keep its momentum. The wing on NZL operates smoothly as it changes sides. In contrast, OTUSA's wing has to be punched through. This split second pause hurts. The New Zealand boat does not have cockpits for the crew. The deck is flush with the trampoline. The USA features cockpits. It takes a little longer for the crew to get into position. New Zealand also uses a self-tacking jib. The sail slides on a track in front of the wing. OTUSA uses jibs that are longer on the foot, and more difficult to trim in tacks. Many little things add up to big differences. On every tack the Kiwis gain. When sailing upwind on a straight line, ETNZ is really fast. It must be a horrifying sight to watch the Kiwis gain from the view on board the American boat. Downwind it appears OTUSA might have a very slight edge in speed. Two of the three legs are downwind, so this should help the American boat. But nearly even downwind speed is not enough when you are so slow to windward.

    Occasionally, our television director, Wayne Leonard, will position the helicopter to capture some compelling images of the deck of the two boats. Again, there is quite a contrast. OTUSA has a narrow endplate underneath the wing. The endplate helps give the wing more power by using the wind. This is a complicated subject that can be far better explained by naval architects. We will surely get to read some interesting scientific papers after the Cup. ETNZ has a much bigger platform under the wing that seems to give the boat more power and at the same time give the whole structure more strength. This will become more evident this weekend when we have an ebb current. The ebb will flow against the prevailing WSW wind and will create choppy waves. So far the races have taken place in flood current.

    Funding an America's Cup is a daunting challenge. ETNZ has recruited eleven sponsors including the New Zealand government to provide funding. In addition to the corporate sponsors, the Kiwis have received substantial help from several long-time sailors, including Michael Fay, Gary Paykel, Matteo Nora, Steven Tindall, and Neville Creighton. Dalton told me they will spend over $120 million. I wonder what Larry Ellison has spent? Grant Dalton, the ETNZ team leader, uses his backers for advice and encouragement. To give you an idea of how important winning this regatta is to the 4.4 million people who live in New Zealand, consider this: Last Saturday, for the first day of racing, 62% of the televisions in that small country were tuned-in to the America' Cup.

    Over the past two months our television team has been working hard to produce compelling shows. Like the sailing teams we try to get better every day. There are 92 people involved in the production. Veteran America's Cup and Olympic Games sailing producer, Denis Harvey, has done a good job bringing all the pieces together. When we are on the air, our producer is Leon Sefton. He is a cool hand. Todd Harris, Ken Read and I are constantly talking with Leon about upcoming shots and leading us through the storyline. From my unique view on the water, I tell Leon about things I see that Todd and Kenny do not see in the booth. The three of us are always ready to add some comment. I think one of Leon's most important jobs is to guide us when to talk and lay out. The conversation coming off the boats is very interesting. It is tricky knowing when to talk and when to lay out. Ken Read and I have to remember that we are talking to an audience that includes many experienced sailors, along with many viewers who have never been on boat. Our conversation must be balanced. It has been a pleasure working with Todd, Ken, Leon and our director, Wayne Leonard. For the NBC shows last weekend, David Michaels was our producer. Long time sailor Gordon Beck is producing our cable shows.

    The AC LiveLine graphics are an amazing addition to our telecasts. Stan Honey and his team will also write an interesting paper about this groundbreaking innovation. Separately, Virtual Eye uses GPS technology to gives us 3D animation of the race boats. AC LiveLine's graphics are over live pictures. I marvel at the mechanics of how our team operate seven cameras on each race boat, along with taking the sound from the microphones worn by five sailors on each boat. On the water, we have a modified Extreme 40 camera boat that can speed along at 40 knots and provide remarkably stable pictures thanks to a Cine-flex camera. These are the same cameras used on the helicopters. When viewers see our pictures and hear our audio all of this has to be synced up. This all happens live. So, if I suggest to Leon that I want to talk about back wind, the helicopter has to get in position, Alan Trimble prepares the animation, Todd Harris sets me up and off we go. Meanwhile Ken Read might have an observation about one of the crew. So while I am talking about backwind, the team is setting up the next shot from on board. This includes getting the correct microphone linked with the picture. Todd then sets up Ken and he tells us about Glen Ashby and how he trims the wing. The production of these races is never seen by viewers but is system that runs with impressive precision. I hope we get to televise some for other sailing events at this level.

    New Zealand needs to win 3 of the next 12 races to reclaim the America's Cup. OTUSA needs to win 10 of the next 12 to defend. My prediction was wrong. Perhaps we will see a turn around. In 1983, Australia II was down 3-1 and won three straight to win it all. In 1920, Resolute was down 0-2 and came back to successfully 3-2, and in 1934 Endeavour was up 2-0 against Rainbow and lost 4-2. Can that happen again? We will show you the races live on Saturday and Sunday on the NBC Sports Network, starting with a pre-race program at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time, (12:30 p.m Pacific).

 

 
Note 8: Overcoming Adversity at the America's Cup PDF Print

By Gary Jobson, President
National Sailing Hall of Fame

September 11, 2013

    After three days of racing at the 34th Defense of the America's Cup, the challenger, Emirates Team New Zealand, needs to win five of the next 14 races to defeat Larry Ellison's Oracle Team USA. In contrast, OTUSA must win ten of the next 14 races to successfully defend. This is a daunting task for the American team, based on the performance of both boats in the five races that have been sailed so far on San Francisco Bay. The USA elected not to sail the second race on Day Three. Skipper Jimmy Spithill said, "It is time we regroup; we need to make some changes." There is a scheduled lay day before racing resumes on Thursday. Can Spithill and his team turn adversity into victory? It will not be easy.

    First, a review of Race Five. Once again, Spithill won the start. For the first time in the match he took the windward position. At the first mark, OTUSA had a nice lead. The wind direction was more southerly than usual. The boats were able to sail on the port jibe for an extraordinary distance toward the leeward gate. This took away any chance for the Kiwis to pass. Approaching the gate, American tactician John Kostecki called for a foiling tack. Their plan was to turn the mark on the foils and immediately tack and sail for the backside of Alcatraz Island, where there is little effect from the flood current. The boat appeared to stop during the turn. The Kiwis made up four boat lengths in a few seconds, and were now out of phase on the opposite tack. Kostecki made a poor choice. The Kiwis were closing.

    Sailing upwind at 25 knots, New Zealand was gaining at an impressive rate. When the USA tacked onto starboard, the Kiwis could not cross and dipped behind. New Zealand was sailing fast; the American boat was not. Less than one mile after the turn, the Kiwis took the lead and sailed away. Spithill, Kostecki and the crew all looked stunned. On Sunday they won a tight thriller. They have led at the second mark in three out of five races. Something is wrong with Oracle Team USA. The boat is slow going to windward, and their tactics have been very inconsistent. So what is going on, and what can be done?

    John Kostecki is one of the most successful sailors in the world, with an around the world race victory, an America's Cup win, and an Olympic medal. He grew up sailing on San Francisco Bay and is very familiar in these waters. Throughout the race, Kostecki constantly grinds one of the winches to power the hydraulics, and helps trim the sails. It is hard, exhausting work. Over on the New Zealand boat, the tactician Ray Davies, does not have grinding duties. He looks around and studies the wind, the current and his boat's performance vs. the USA. As a former America's Cup tactician, I like to listen to them and watch their performance. Of course, it is easy for me as a television commentator to critique their moves, but I think the physical work for Kostecki (who is 49) might be hurting his ability to look around. The New Zealand boat is set up so the tactician does not grind a winch.

     ETNZ syndicate head, Grant Dalton, (who is 56) sails on his team's boat. In every sport having a seasoned veteran on the team, and in the locker room, is always a benefit. It makes me wonder if it is time for the Oracle team's manager, Russell Coutts, to get on the boat? After Race Five, Coutts summoned Spithill to his tender for an in-person meeting. Our television camera's recorded the scene. We don't know what was said, but I’ll bet there was a difference of opinion on whether to postpone the second race of the day. When asked after the race, Spithill said they talked about the weather. Later he said they discussed rugby. Let there be no doubt that they talked about their performance, and I’ll bet it was a one-way conversation. Coutts has to be under pressure from Larry Ellison to improve. Losing is not in Ellison's DNA.

    Overnight the design team and shore crew will make some changes to the boat to try to find some upwind speed. I like the fact that OTUSA plans to go sailing during the lay day. The Kiwis will spend their time on maintenance, and reviewing strategy.
Time is running out for the USA. Everyone around the waterfront wonders if we will see a crew change. Coutts is certainly available and so is four-time Olympic Champion Ben Ainslie, who served as the in-house training skipper. I don't think we will see a major crew change for Day Four. But, if the USA loses two on Thursday, we just might see a different roster.

    At the post race press conference, I asked Spithill if there was any chance that they would use their other boat. Their first boat is being prepared for racing. Based on my observations Boat One might be a little faster than Boat Two (the one being raced now) when sailing to windward. This is where New Zealand has a distinct advantage. The trade off is that Boat One is slower downwind and is harder to control. I don't think a boat change is likely, unless there is some damage. Let's hope we don't see a collision between these boats. At 40 knots or more, that horrible thought would be a disaster.

    The speeds between the USA and NZL are close enough that either boat can win races as we have seen. Oracle Team USA still has time to get rolling, but they must win the next two races and get some momentum. New Zealand needs to improve on the starting line, and keep the pressure on OTUSA so Sptihill and company keep making increasingly desperate moves. We might see Spithill try to get a boat-on-boat penalty during the pre-start. New Zealand will likely be cautious around the starting line. The Kiwis have the speed and boat handling skills to pass when behind. Five more victories and the America's Cup will be on its way Down Under for the third time in thirty years. The only thing stopping the cup from leaving the USA is the resolve and clear thinking from Ellison, Coutts, Spithill and the rest of the team. Will they find a way to win? We will know soon.

 

 

 
Note 7: Great Racing at America's Cup PDF Print

By Gary Jobson, President
National Sailing Hall of Fame

September 8, 2013

    When Oracle Team USA's sailors and shore crew arrived at their compound at Pier 80 early this morning, the America's Cup trophy was sitting on a pedestal in front of the AC 72. No one knew how it got there. But, it was an inspirational reminder of their mission. The sailing team looked fired up for Day Two of the America's Cup, even though they lost both races yesterday. Everyone around the waterfront in San Francisco was wondering how the American team could turn things around?

    And, just like that, Day Two of the 34th America's Cup defense became a thriller for the sailors and their fans. Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA each won a hard fought battle that included brilliant tactics, breathtaking speed, and some mistakes too. In my AC Report 5, I predicated that the USA would win the match after a close battle. Following yesterday's racing that pronouncement looked mighty suspect, but not anymore. Either team can win this regatta.

    In Race Three, OTUSA was fouled by ETNZ at the first turning mark. The penalty was quickly absolved. The chase was on. These boats can very quickly separate by a few hundred yards. The boats seem far apart but that distance can be made up with a single gust of wind. At times the boats sail at remarkably even speeds, and occasionally New Zealand looks faster. It is rare that the American boat has a speed advantage. At the end of Leg Two the USA held a slim lead. Sailing upwind against the tide NZL started to gain on each tack. Oracle's tactician, National Sailing Hall of Famer John Kostecki, worked to match every move the Kiwis made. The big moment of the pass came as the two boats closed on the boundary along the city front near Pier 39. New Zealand tacked onto port, as did the USA. But the American crew was slow to accelerate and lost control of the race. Kiwi tactician, Ray Davies was masterfully managing his boat's position on the racecourse. This guy is a joy to watch. He is clever and rarely makes a mistake. New Zealand sailed away for their third win.

    Just 32 minutes later the second race of the day started. Oracle Team USA's Australian skipper, Jimmy Spithill, timed the line perfectly and took the lead. He held the Kiwis high on the first part of the short reach leg and then bore away for a beautifully executed rounding. Downwind the boats were about even. At the leeward gate NZL closed. It looked like the Kiwis might be able to pass again early on the beat to windward. This time, Kostecki told Spithill to sail a more strategic race as if there were 20 boats on the course. OTUSA wanted to avoid the close quarters battle that did them in the previous race. It was a good call. The USA held the lead at Mark 3. At the final turning mark NZL closed to within five seconds. At 40 knots, that equates to about four to five boat lengths. Oracle Team USA crossed the line eight seconds ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand and received a thunderous ovation from thousands of people on the shore line.

    Monday is a lay day. Both teams will spend the time analyzing the performance of their boats, look for ways to increase speed and plan their tactics for the next round of races. New Zealand seems to have an edge at times, but not always. In strong winds of 23 knots toward the end of Race 4 the USA really looked strong. Winning a race after losing three certainly gives OTUSA a big boost of confidence going forward. New Zealand needs to stay aggressive. If Dean Barker can win the start, he will be hard to pass. James Spithill knows how important it is to get the jump at the gun. The pair has each won two starts. New Zealand needs to win 6 more races, while the USA needs to win 10 more. Based on the two races we saw today, this America's Cup is going to extend for some time before someone wins.

    Every race will be carried live on the NBC Sports Network starting at 1pm Pacific time (4 pm Eastern) on Sept 10, 12, 14, and 15. My partners Todd Harris and Ken Read and I look forward to explaining the action. Hold on tight; there are some good races ahead.

 

 
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