Sep 10, 2013

AC34 Final: Oracle vs New Zealand R5 Replay (OR 'Threw the Towell' in R6)

Image Balazs Gardi / ACEA / Another 'gift' for TNZ. Not that they need any handicap, but it is quite a shock having Spithill & Oracle pushing the limits to get some chance, succeeding in the starts (OR went windward end, remember I remarked that in past posts, it is the best speed/angle combo to Mark 1), even flying a little faster downwind and blowing (Again) a good lead on the downwind Mark. Photo Left: Coutts "Regrouping" Spithill after losing R5. Day 3 wrapup video here.

OR made a strange awkward forced 'foiling tack' to head to "Alcatraz Cone"  (a zone protected by the island with almost no current)  instead of going for a smooth transition to the left side at Mark 3, that foiling tack was like putting full hand brake, and NZ got them from behind right there. NZ is always faster upwind but Oracle showed if they sail perfect tactics and defend by the book (no need to force a split at that time) they can win. NZ is racing in cruise control mode, they have a 6th gear upwind plus excellent tack transitions, and their 'Tractor' hulls have to do with both.

On the speed if you noticed, NZ forward half is trimmed higher, many times in the verge of foiling upwind (beyond their forward concave rocker design that makes the bow 'hang' higher without cutting water while floating mode) I assign part of this on their hulls generating extra dynamic lift. Have a look to Oracle trim upwind, most of the time cutting through the water.
Downwind OR are even faster, so their foils are doing the job. Maybe they are draggier than the Kiwis upwind.

Those Kiwi specific hull shape is similar (quite close to a perfect scale) to moderns F18s. When racing +16 knots reaching to +20knots, there is a magic trim zone where you feel your F18 lighter , with a semi planning sensation upwind, it is a zone where you know you are going fast.
Some of these F18s though with flatter wider crossections below the waterline have some drag penalty in calm conditions.

So in lighter conditions Oracle might have an advantage upwind but here we reach again the key fact on designing for the venue, San Francisco is a perfect 18-22knots wind machine and in these conditions NZ hulls and extreme rocker line (with fore and aft concave sections) work to perfection on speed and tacking manoeuvres, where they might have some drag penalty in light weather against OR (if any).

This venue is San Francisco 'Wind Factory', and NZ platform is objectively having less drag upwind, their hulls are playing a big part on it beyond foils & Wing performance in my view.

All previous predictions stand still, New Zealand is favorite and Oracle can do the job, but their time is running out.
Today they literally threw the towel using a one time only posponement wildcard (to be used at will to by pass x conditions or breakages). Russell Coutts had a little "chat" with Spithill inside teams rib cabin.
Not much to do I guess, maybe put Ainslie onboard to double check decisions, but cards are wide open over the table since R1. Spithill style or racing and acquired skills are one of the reason on OR matching New Zealand with chances to win races.

Spithill words: “We can win these races, we just need to be very smart about the way we go about it. We also need to make sure we sail the boat well,” Full Oracle camp report at

Coutts is leaving a great legacy with this Cup, perfect venue, perfect close racing, flying boats etc, all after the critics and excuses from 'failure lobbiers', but no matter how many challengers we could have possibly had, as a person that knows what is talking about told me today, the Match that counted was this Final, and it is being a shocking Blast even for us Multi fanatics.

Russell Coutts will enter History for being a truly visionary (Just after the great Dennis Conner!) beyond being one of the best AC sailors, although in the process he is slowly giving away his first Cup ever, his 'precious' is preparing her trip back to Kiwi Land.

OR & TNZ put on  Show on Sunday as never seen in this sport, well this new sport. I really don´t care how they called it, Sailing, Flying, Hydrofoil or whatever, the important aspect was a stunning display of skills, tecnology  & speed.
We also saw a penalty in the first reaching mark that was more warning than a penalty. With Artemis Master Photographer Sander van der Borch we discussed in Twtter why, finally it seems as it was a boat to boat penalty and TNZ was 2 boats behind it was cleared instantly.
Now CSN anon Pro source tells me that they have updated the penalties times, specially on reaching:"Umpires increased the penalty polars on 5 September – a little change downwind but massive reaching increase.
Next change should be to add an upwind foiling mode…

Popular Posts