Special to Nordsjternan Online from America’s Cup San Francisco

Oracle Team USA held off all challengers in the America’s Cup World Series races held in San Francisco during the week ending October 7. While it may have been a sure bet for a gambler, the outcome was ever in doubt. The “stadium city” welcomed people to line its shores and watch the regatta for free. Easily more than August’s estimated 40 thousand spectators outside, plus thousands more in office skyscrapers or from vantage points on hills surrounding the bay witnessed the spectacle of racing catamarans flying over the bay.
This America’s Cup will be hard to beat with the catamarans racing on the water and the Blue Angels flying in the air above. That would be enough to fill any normal city’s entertainment schedule, but San Francisco simultaneously hosted the Warren Hellman Memorial Bluegrass Festival, the Columbus/Indigenous Day Parade, the Oracle World Convention, the Castro Street Fair, and both the 49ers and Giants in home games! Municipal and regional public transit set all time records this.
Ellison was the real victor of these races for his concept and leadership. But how does he order up perfect sailing weather: comfortable for the spectators while challenging for the sailors, with changing winds and powerful ebb or flood tides? Weathermen must have been paid handsomely by all producers to get this weather.
After a month of practice with craft and crew on the bay and valuable support from Oracle, Ben Ainslie demonstrated his acumen. In the six qualifying fleet races, he finished first three times and never less than fourth. He kept piling up so many cumulative points that some wondered whether he had insulated himself against the scoring spread of the last race. Oracle hired him to join their team next year in defending the cup.
However, it was another story in the match races, duels between only two boats. Rather than accumulating points, this series of races eliminates nations’ boats until only the two best remain to compete.
Teams with more than one boat have better odds. USA, Sweden and Italy each have two boats. Italy was eliminated rather early and only Spithill’s boat among the two U.S. boats qualified for the semifinals. So, Sweden impressed many by having both its boats in the semifinals. In the fleet races, Artemis-Red’s Outteridge had been impressive, capturing fourth place in his first four starts and dominating the field by never being less than third or fourth.
In the match races the semifinals came down to USA, New Zealand and two Swedish boats. Spithill was able to outwit Hutchinson from the start and Barker’s experience bettered Outteridge, leaving the Saturday championship to two stalwarts: Spithill v Barker. That race was daring but decided at the starting line, when Spithill edged Barker to circle around again to cross the starting line late. Though Barker bravely came close, Spithill won by almost as many seconds as he had delayed Barker at the start. Spithill claimed the Match Race Championship.
But the real drama of the day was in how USA-Spithill even managed to compete on Sunday, which consisted of two fleet races followed by the Match Race Championship. Rounding the starting mark in the first fleet race, Spithill’s boat capsized almost on top of Artemis-White. Some crewmen dangled, others were catapulted into the bay, and the boat broke several wing forms. Nevertheless with injured crew and damaged boat, Spithill returned to the second fleet race, taking second. And won the match race after that.
This was a remarkable feat of stamina and perseverance, but on Super Sunday USA-Spithill entered the fleet race with up to a 12-point deficit for not finishing the race, which he would have to overcome with race performance. Hutchinson had a similar deficit from finishing in 10th place in an early fleet race.
On Super Sunday the Fleet Race Championship took place following the air shows by the Blue Angels and Oracle’s biplane. Spithill seemed to compound his problems by crossing the starting line dead last behind all of the others. However, the three finalists were all last at some point in this race. Sweden’s Artemis-Red seized the lead in a gust across the starting line and initially led the fleet. But after rounding the second gate, Outteridge was passed first by Coutts and then by Spithill, as Outteridge suffered a 2-boat-length penalty.
From then on the focus was first upon Spithill gaining on Coutts and then on Ainslie and Hutchinson challenging these leaders. By the fifth of the seven legs, Hutchinson and Outteridge were third and fourth behind Coutts and Spithill. Had the finish concluded in this order, Ainslie would have won the competition based upon points, though not the final race. But before the last gate Spithill passed Coutts as did Ainslie and Hutchinson. When Ainslie cut off Hutchinson to finish second, this set up the remarkable count. Although Spithill and Ainsliewere first and second, according to their finishing positions, they were tied in the total cumulative count at 179 points each; however, because this final fleet race was determinative, Spithill won the competition and the championship.
Now, during the break before the races resume in 2013, the combined standings from San Francisco have USA-Spithill in first place with a commanding 165 points and the challengers in the following order: 2) Italy (Chris Draper, LR-P), 121; 3) Sweden (AR-W, Hutchinson), 120; 4) Great Britain (Ben Ainslie), 116; 5) Korea, 105; 6) France, 102; 7) New Zealand (Barker), 100; 8) USA (Coutts), 98; 9) Sweden (Outteridge), 90; 10) Italy (LR-S), 71; and 11) China (Robertson), 43.
In the interim the teams will practice with their swift AC72s. Some boats (ETNZ and USA) are enhanced further with foils, allowing those boats to skim frictionless above the waves. ETNZ and Oracle have practiced with their foiled AC72s. Artemis has yet to launch its AC72 on SF Bay. All teams have only 30 days of practice to learn the new boats before they have to race them in Valencia in March. 2013 will be a whole new and perilous challenge.

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SIDEBAR
Combined SF Standings
Plc Pts Country Skipper Boat
1 165 USA James Spithill Oracle Team USA-Spithill
2 121 Italy Chris Draper Luna Rossa-Pirhana
3 120 Sweden Terry Hutchinson Artemis Racing-White
4 116 Great Britain Ben Ainslie J.P.Morgan-Ben Ainslie Racing
5 105 Korea Peter Burling Team Korea
6 102 France Loïck Peyron Energy
7 100 New Zealand Dean Barker Emirates Team New Zealand
8 98 USA Russell Coutts Oracle Team USA-Outteridge
9 90 Sweden Nathan Outteridge Artemis Racing-Red
10 71 Italy Massimiliano Sirena Luna Rossa-Swordfish
11 43 China Phil Robertson China Team

PHOTOS
1. Title: Artemis team remains potent Challenger of Record
Ref: 12_055281_ACWS_SanFrancisco_oct.jpg
© Artemis 2012; Photo © by Sander van der Borch. Used by permission
Description: Super Sunday fleet race, Sunday October 6th. AC45 World Series San Francisco (Oct 2-7)
Artemis Keywords: ac45 – america’s cup – americas cup world series – artemis racing – multihull – October – swe – san francisco: Super Sunday fleet race, Sunday October 6th. AC45 World Series San Francisco


2. Title: The America’s Cup San Francisco 2012 Fleet
Ref: 12_055199_ACWS_SanFrancisco_oct.jpg
© Artemis 2012; Photo © by Sander van der Borch. Used by permission
Description: Super Sunday fleet race, Sunday October 6th. AC45 World Series San Francisco (Oct 2-7)
Artemis Keywords: ac45 – america’s cup – americas cup world series – artemis racing – multihull – October – swe – san francisco: Super Sunday fleet race, Sunday October 6th. AC45 World Series San Francisco

3. Title: Terry Hutchinson, skipper of Artemis Racing-White (the only American skipper)
Ref: 12_055260_ACWS_SanFrancisco_oct.jpg
© Artemis 2012; Photo © by Sander van der Borch. Used by permission
Description: Super Sunday fleet race, Sunday October 6th. AC45 World Series San Francisco (Oct 2-7)
Artemis Keywords: ac45 – america’s cup – americas cup world series – artemis racing – multihull – October – swe – san francisco: Super Sunday fleet race, Sunday October 6th. AC45 World Series San

4. Title: The Blue Angels and Oracle’s biplane provided a jaw-dropping air show
Ref: GG12-SFOOCT-04563.jpg
© Oracle 2012, Photo by Guilain Grenier. Used by permission
Oracle Keywords: ACWS San Francisco October / Super Sunday / ORACLE TEAM USA / San Francisco

5. Title: America’s Cup World Series — San Francisco, 2012: Champion—Oracle Team USA-Spithill
Ref: GG12-SFOOCT-04750.jpg
© Oracle 2012, Photo by Guilain Grenier. Used by permission
Oracle Keywords: ACWS San Francisco October / Super Sunday / ORACLE TEAM USA / San Francisco