Special to Nordsjternan Online
Dateline: Sunday, October 7, 2012; San Francisco

Headline: America’s Cup Champions
Nugget: USA Defends regatta; heads to 2013; Sweden is both Challenger of Record and leader among pack

America’s Cup Defender Oracle Team USA-Spithill cleanly swept both the match and fleet races in dramatic fashion. The duel for the Match Racing Championship had been won the day before. The race against the fleet was the only race for Sunday, October 7.
The semifinal races were dramatic with Spithill’s boat capsizing and leaving during the first fleet race, only to return to capture second in the second race. Then at the end of the day he faced the Kiwis led by Dean Barker in a particularly daring match race.
As they sparred in the starting box, Spithill came beside Barker as they raced for the starting line. Spithill drove diagonally toward one of the starting boats, forcing Barker to return to cross the starting line, losing valuable speed and distance.
Barker caught up and briefly threatened, but in the end Spithill crossed the finish line and claimed the Match Racing trophy. The win was all the more spectacular because without attempting repairs, with battered crew and damaged boat, the team still pulled off a victory with determination and perspiration.

Super Sunday Fleet Race
The fleet race was the only race on Super Sunday. As the boats crossed the starting line, Sweden’s Artemis-Red led the pack. Originally all the presumed top challengers alternated for last place: Spithill (USA), Ainslie (GBr) and Hutchinson (Swe). Yet in dramatic fashion all pulled through the fleet to capture the top three spots respectively.
Among locals, this was to be a test of navigating talent. Spithill’s tactician John Kostecki, and Outteride’s tactician Paul Cayard, grew up on San Francisco Bay as friends and competitors, both knowing the waters intimately and charting separate courses for their boats.
Outteridge (AR-R) led through the first three gates until he got a penalty. Then US-Coutts overtook the Swedes with US-Spithill in hot pursuit. Seeing the U.S. teams break, Ainslie and Hutchinson also raced to catch them. Ultimately Spithill crossed first as future teammate Ainslie overtook Hutchinson to take second.
In this championship fleet race, the cumulative scores of both Spithill and Ainslie each totaled 179 points; however, since Spithill beat Ainslie in this final race, he was awarded first place. Remarkably, by not finishing the penultimate fleet qualifying race, Spithill gained no points in that race yet was able to make up that deficit with his cumulative score and the scoring spread on this championship race.

Honing skills for 2103 championship
In the first of the fleet qualifying races, Artemis’ Hutchinson crossed in 10th place. Had he finished among the top three in that race, he would have challenged the two leaders. Outteridge remains a valuable addition to the Artemis team. Working as a team, Hutchinson and Outteridge’s boats and crews may hone their skills to more consistently break from challenger to champion. They have a year to do this before they return to San Francisco for the 2013 championships, racing on the more dangerous AC72s.
Now Spithill reigns as both the match and fleet champion. When Ainslie joins Team Oracle next year, there will be tremendous depth among helmsmen and crew. But by capturing 3rd, Hutchinson continued to earn his place as the Challenger of Record.

San Francisco

(A group of promising young sailors from the Royal Swedish Yacht Club visited the Swedish Challenger and San Francisco earlier in the fall: The America's Cup … )

Photos for this article:
1) The fleet at the start of the race
© Oracle Team USA 2012 / Photo byGuilain Grenier. Used by permission.
Ref: GG12-SFOOCT-04025.jpg

2) Mayor Lee congratulates Artemis-White
© ACEA 2012 / Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget. Used by permission.
Ref: CO7_9295.jpg

3) Oracle Team USA-Spithill crew win SF trophy
© ACEA 2012 / Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget. Used by permission.
Ref: CO7_9320.jpg