Races 14 and 15 on September 22nd were impacted by light and spotty wind conditions. At the start of Race 14 Barker took Aotearoa to windward and although Spithill wasn’t able to pass him he was able to push New Zealand out above the reaching mark. OTUSA took the lead, but as each team caught puffs of wind their lead increased, shrunk and then increased again. At one point ETNZ managed to cut Oracle’s lead to 50 meters. Catching a nice breeze, USA-17 was able to foil and expand the lead to 700 meters only to see it shrink again a short time later. Although New Zealand was close, OTUSA was just far enough ahead to win the race bringing the scoreboard to 8 to 4.
The second race of the day didn’t go any better for New Zealand. The patchy wind again made the leads grow and shrink at regular intervals. OTUSA came out ahead winning Race 15 by 32 seconds.
In the post race press conference, ETNZ’s Glenn Ashby said “It’s really, really quite tricky…Forecasting conditions is difficult, and certainly moding the boat is more difficult in actual fact. The boats go through such a big range of conditions. You get your configuration a little bit wrong, it doesn’t affect one little thing, it sort of has a chain reaction and it affects the whole rest of the boat. Both teams were probably a little caught out by the conditions today, but that’s yachting.”
Dean Barker saw things differently. While ETNZ did wait until the last possible moment to choose which sails to use and may have not made the right decision, Barker felt that the team didn’t sail as well as they could have. “We let ourselves down today, on both of the first downwind legs. We started behind at Mark 1 both times but we gave up too much distance on the downwinds. While the guys worked hard and made some gains upwind, it was never quite enough to put enough pressure on them.”
Spithill on the other hand credited overnight changes to the boat that he thought made a significant difference in terms of boat performance.
Here are today’s trivia questions:
Race 14: What change did Oracle make to their boat between races 13 and 14 and what did the change enable?
Race 15: During the series Oracle made a change to their crew choreography that helped the boat accelerate faster and get up on its foils sooner. It also enabled more stable foiling. What was the change and what was it affectionately called by the team?