Races 4, 5 and 6 of the Challenger Playoff Final were held today in winds from 16 knots to as little as 11 knots.  The big factor for the day was that the teams both changed their daggerboards in opposite directions.  The Swedes went for the small, high speed boards which are best suited to stronger winds while the Kiwis opted for the bigger low speed, light wind boards.  This was probably mostly driven by different weather forecasts.

As it turned out, race 4, was sailed in 16 knots and Artemis had it right and led wire to wire. Score goes to 2-2.

In race 5, the wind was the lightest of the day at 11 knots.  The Kiwis were fast upwind and won this race even though they were behind at mark 1 and 2. Artemis misplaced a tack on the first upwind leg and the Kiwis sail around them rather easily.  Ultimately Artemis had some daggerboard issues on the final run of this race and retired to address them and be ready for race 6.

In race 6, once again Artemis had the lead at marks 1 and 2. On the first upwind leg, the Kiwis tacked to port and Artemis did a big dial down, aiming at the Kiwis and forcing them to make a big alteration of course, and fall off their foils.  Still the Kiwis are going faster and come to the top gate even with Artemis.  Down the run the Kiwis pass in more wind on the left side of the course and build a decent lead during legs 4, 5 and 6.  At the final gate, the Kiwis mismanage the lay line and fall off their foils in a gybe. Artemis was bearing down on them at 40 knots while the Kiwis were doing 15 knots.  The Kiwis got up and foiling just in time to win by 1 second.  Heart stopping stuff for Kiwi fans.

The Kiwis now lead the series 4-2.  Artemis has to win 3 in a row tomorrow to win the series while the Kiwis need just one more win.

The Kiwis have been behind at Mark 1 and 2 in all 6 races of these finals.  Today, Artemis’ smaller boards helped them on leg 1 but they paid for that on the upwind legs in races 5 and 6.  Still, Peter Burling is going to have to do better in the starts and boat on boat situations to beat Jimmy Spithill and the Oracle team in the Cup.

As a side note, I got to follow the race in the television boat which is right behind the race boats.  I was used by the America’s Cup TV crew to give a few comment from the race track.  I had fun doing that and hope to be “used” again someday.



Today was the first day of the Challenger Playoff Final featuring Artemis of Sweden against ETNZ of New Zealand.  This event used to be known as the Louis Vuitton Cup.  Three races were held in a building breeze that started out at 7 knots and finished up around 12 knots from the southwest.

Artemis had their light air foils on and ETNZ had moderate foils with and extra long tip to gain a bit of surface.  The difference there for the Kiwi’s would be sectional shape probably…a bit thinner section for higher potential maximum speed but harder to produce lift at slow speed like out of a tack.  While the board itself must be chosen very early each morning, the teams can change 10% of the weight or volume of the foil up to about 2 hours prior to the start.  So total area can be adjusted late but the section shape of the main part of the board would be determined much earlier by the actual boat choice.  In this way there can be subtle differences to arrive at the same lift producing foil.

The highlights: ETNZ won 2 races while Artemis won 1. Artemis won every start.  Once ETNZ was ahead, they stretched gradually.  When Artemis was ahead, they match raced well to keep the faster boat behind as long as possible. In race 2, this worked.  In races 1 and 3, the Kiwi’s were just too fast.  If ENTZ wins 2 out of 3 races when losing every start, it wont be pretty if they start to win the starts.

Race 1: 7-9 knots of wind. The largest headsails were used on both boats. Artemis wins the start and holds lead to first bottom gate. Up first windward leg, Kiwi’s tack better despite more high speed boards. Is this a function of more oil being available due to the bikes being more efficient than arm grinding? On a long starboard, Artemis tries to tack on Kiwi’s but they gap off to windward and hold Artemis to boundary. Near the boundary, the Kiwi’s to windward, tack away first.  Artemis sails on and out of bounds!  Self inflicted!  Penalty to the Swedes, and with the Kiwi’s now ahead they gradually stretch over next three legs.  Kiwi’s win race 1.

Race 2: 10-12 knots.  Both teams change to medium jibs. Artemis starts to leeward and in control.  The Kiwi’s are going slightly faster to windward but a bit too close to Artemis who luff the Kiwi’s to slow their progress. Perfectly executed, Artemis stretches out to 3 boat length lead at Mark 1. Artemis does great job of controlling race and the Kiwi’s never create a split.  Artemis tacks on the Kiwi’s on port tack near the top of leg 5 and stretch.  The Swedes take this one to even the score.  It looks like the two boats are even enough that Artemis can win if they win the start and sail perfectly.

Race 3: Artemis wins start again and controls race for lap 1. At bottom of leg 4, Artemis stuffs bows in hard and slows quite a bit.  The Kiwi’s close to 60 meters and split, rounding the opposite mark at gate. First couple of crosses are close but Swedes still maintain lead. Near top of leg 5, Kiwi’s tack to port to lay right hand gate mark and Swedes follow. Nathan Outteridge, helmsman of Artemis slips when crossing the boat and falls off.  There is a bit of confusion onboard Artemis as they figure out who should steer.  Finally Luke Patience steers and it is obvious that controlling the boat is going to be tough.  This could be because as they had one less man onboard they were therefore short of oil pressure to control the boards.  Artemis retire.  Kiwi’s go up 2-1.

This looks like it will be a great series. I think the Kiwi’s need to use this series to work on their starts and boat on boat tactics.  They may make it through this round without winning a start but I don’t think they will beat Oracle without winning starts.



One race was held today between Artemis and Softbank Japan in 20 knots from the south.  Japan hit something underwater about an hour before the start.  There didn’t appear to be significant damage to their boat but the investigation by the shore team definitely through the Japanese off their pre game program.

In the race, the Japanese got the better start but seemed to have trouble with the bear away around Mark 1. Up the first windward leg and down the second downwind, the Japanese were just ahead of the Swedish team. Up the second windward leg, the Swedes were sailing faster on a long starboard tack. At the boundary the Swedes were able to ask for room to tack and the Japanese tried to get too fancy and delayed their tack just a bit.  This allowed Artemis to get up and foiling on port and the hooked Softbank and luffed them.  That was pretty much game, set and match.

So Artemis move on to face the Kiwi’s in the Challenger Playoff Final starting tomorrow.  Three races a day on Saturday and Sunday with the breeze slowly moderating each day.



Artemis goes 3-0 when it counts.   Photos by Richard Smith


Six races were held in the Challenger Playoff Semifinal today on Great Sound in 12-14 knots from the south.  With yesterday’s races lost to winds in the 30 knot range, Race organizers were keen to try to catch up on the schedule today.

In the first match, ETNZ had a problem with their port dagger board in the final approach to start and BAR had a 20 second lead off the line.  The Kiwi’s looked a bit unstable through the first three legs but gradually got things under control and their speed started to show. Maybe they were having some lingering effects from the capsize and subsequent soaking of their instruments on Tuesday. On leg 5 however, the Kiwi’s closed and eventually passed BAR and went on to win.  When able to control their boat, their speed was noticeably superior. This put ETNZ in a 4-1 advantage in this semi final.

In match 2, Japan had  Artemis in a bad spot but pulled the trigger a bit too soon and was over the starting line early and had to drop back behind Artemis. Artemis used old school match race tactics to keep tight control over the evenly match Japanese team and went on to win, brining that series to 3-2 in favor of the Japanese.

In match 3, a must win for BAR, they got the leeward side at the start and just hung on to the lead around Mark 1 and down the first run. Both boats rounded the same gate at the bottom and BAR kept a tight grip on the kiwis initially.  About a third of the way up leg 3, the Kiwi’s tacked off and BAR continued toward more pressure and extended their lead 50 meters.  They knew they would need every meter to hold off the faster boat from New Zealand. Sailing the perfect race, BAR held off the Kiwi’s to take the win and bring the score to 4-2 in favor of New Zealand.

In match 4, Japan, pushing Artemis, got too low on the lay line into the left hand mark and started 10 seconds late.  Good recognition, by Outteridge, of the time and lay line situation so he knew when to give up fighting for the left and gauge up off Softbank. The Japanese looked less than smooth on the first upwind, making some bad tacks while Artemis, once again employing classic match race tactics, gradually stretched away to take the win.  The score in that series now   3-3.

In Match 5, BAR was late for the start, game over as the Kiwi’s had the faster boat.  That brought the BAR challenge to a close.  It is easy to see that these teams are still evolving their technique and equipment.  The Brits definitely sailed their bast race today.

In match 6, Japan had the coveted left position off the line and barely held the inside at mark one and down to the leeward gate. Artemis systematically gybe early heading to the gate to set up the split at the bottom, something Softbank never did when trailing.  At first cross on leg 3, Softbank were 100 meters ahead.   The Japanese maintained this lead around the next lap but upwind on leg 5, Artemis were closing.  As the boats were getting critically close, with Artemis coming back on starboard tack, the Japanese tacked in a spot where they had to bear away to miss the pink Vineyard Vines, Mark 1 which is a 3 meter diameter mark.  This ultimately cost the Japanese the lead and the race.  At the final top mark, Artemis was coming on port tack and Japan on Starboard tack. Artemis had buoy room, which is the room needed to round a mark while sailing her proper course.  The Japanese were three boat lengths wide of the mark leaving Artemis plenty of room in my opinion.  Artemis approached the mark very tight and did not tack within the three boat lengths of room that Japan had left them.  In my opinion, a proper course rounding would have been set up and executed differently.  But clearly Artemis were trying to initiate a rules confrontation and not necessarily interested in rounding the mark while sailing a proper course.  The Swedes protested and the jury sided with them. I am not sure how the umpire debrief went but I think there may have been some memory there for the bad call, made at Artemis’ expense, a week ago.  But that too is part of sport.  That is why the coaches are constantly complaining to the refs in basketball.

So ETNZ are through to the Challenger Playoff final which start Saturday.  Softbank and Artemis have to race tomorrow the decide the winner of their semi final.  Two races are scheduled; one win is needed for the Swedes to move on and two wins are needed for the Japanese.




Artemis stuffing the windward hull. Photos by Richard Smith


Big day on Great Sound.  Four races were held at the upper limit of the wind range today and the skills of these sailors were tested.  The pre start jostling was rather tame today and in three out of the four starts, one of the teams was late to the line.  It seems that teams had come to the conclusion that they weren’t going to win the race at the start but they could easily loose it.

The first pairing of today was Artemis vs. Softbank Japan. Artemis was late to the line and had significant control problems.  Around the leeward mark Artemis stuffed the bow into the water and ripped off the fairings on the forward beam.  Their control problems continued and the Japanese, who sailed relatively smoothly, went on to win.  Artemis retired on leg 7 to save crew energy and effectuate repairs for their next race.

Several teams were at the limit of control today and I am not sure if it was the sensitivity of the mechanism that is hard to control or a lack of hydraulic oil being supplied.

The second race featured ETNZ vs Land Rover BAR. ETNZ had damaged their wing in the morning tune up session and had to hustle in to put in their backup wing and made the start with 3 minutes to spare. ETNZ was late to the line and BAR was sailing smoothly with decent control while the Kiwi’s looked a bit wobbly. By leg 5, upwind, the Kiwi’s had settled their boat down and the speed started to kick in. As they closed in on the Brits, they set up to leeward on a long starboard tack.  Slowly but surely the Kiwi’s edged forward and when they reached the boundary, they were able to tack and cross BAR.  From there the Kiwi’s looked solid and stretched away for their third win in the series.

In the second race between Artemis and Japan, Japan won the start once again. Japan looked in control as they bore away at the first mark hitting 46 knots!  Artemis lost control, could not bear away and subsequently went out of bounds and was awarded two penalties. The Japanese sailed off to a big lead which they managed the whole way around the track for their second win of the day.  Japan now leads this series 3-1.

In the final race, ETNZ was schooled by Ainslie and locked out at the windward end at the start.  As Ainslie bore away to cross the line, at the last possible moment, Burling tried to follow.  Unfortunately for Burling, he had trouble managing the maneuver and pitch-polled the Kiwi boat.  Race over.  Fortunately, no one was injured but the damage was significant.  As they had a problem with their #1 wing this morning it was a shore and safe, and will be ready for action tomorrow.  But the electronics in the port hull and the fairings  all over, were certainly worse for wear.  It will be a long night in the Kiwi shed but they may get a break in that the forecast for tomorrow is 40 knots of wind.  So they may get and extra 24 hours to get their craft back in once piece.





The Challenger Playoff started today on Great Sound in 15 knots from the southeast. The first pairing featured ETNZ against BAR while the second pairing was Artemis vs. Softbank Japan. Each pair was to race two matches today.

In the first race, ETNZ handily won the start over BAR and led around the first mark and down the first run.  After ETNZ rounded the gate and headed off to the right, BAR approached the gate. All of a sudden they heard a loud noise inside their wing and the team immediately stopped racing to inspect.  It was ascertained that the camber arm had broken and BAR retired from the race.

Unfortunately for all, the fix was to change the wing and that could not be done within the hour that they had available.  So the Kiwi’s went up 2-0.

In the Artemis vs. Japan pairing, Artemis started strong in the first race and led round the first mark and down around the leeward gate. Japan split to the right and immediately got in phase with the wind.  At the first cross, Artemis on port, had to duck Japan now on Starboard.  Japan was going well and stretched their lead and went on to win race 1.

Japan looked to be a solid competitor for Artemis.  Should be a good series.

In Race 2, Japan got the better start and led for a lap and a half.  Up the second windward leg, Artemis, sailing faster, closed and passed Japan.  Artemis went on to win and tie the score in their series at 1-1.

It looked to me like Artemis made a change between the two races and was going better in race 2.  Maybe a change to the rudders in some way…just a guess.

Two races for each pair are scheduled for tomorrow.  The forecast has southwest winds at 18 knot building to 22 knots later in the afternoon.  Should be a good day of racing at the upper end of the range.  Wednesday looks too windy to race and Thursday looks like 10-12 knots.

Let’s hope BAR gets their back up wing on and comes out fighting tomorrow!



Match of the Day-Oracle vs. ETNZ


The final four races of the qualifications series for the 35th America’s Cup were held today in Bermuda in 12 knots dropping to as little as 8 knots as the day went on.

New Zealand vs. Oracle Team USA was the first race of the 35th America’s Cup as the American Team won the race, the series and takes a one point advantage into the America’s Cup Final no matter who the challenger is.

However, Oracle will not race again until June 17.  Meanwhile, starting tomorrow, the challengers continue their elimination series with the semi finals.  The Kiwi’s, being the top challenger, have chosen BAR as their opponent in the semi finals so that leaves SoftBank Team Japan and Artemis Team Sweden to race in the other semifinal.  The first team of each of these pairings to get 5 points will move onto the Louis Vuitton Challenger Finals.

Meanwhile, the qualification series eliminated Groupama Team France.  The team was noticeably deficient in lift from their boards in light air.  They made a gallant effort and won many fans over.  Hopefully they will be back in 2019.

Race 27: Oracle Team USA vs. Emirates Team New Zealand.  Jimmy Spithill schooled the young talent, Peter Burling, at the start giving the Kiwis a penalty. I think this is the Kiwi’s weak point.  In all boat on boat situations, the Kiwi’s come out worse than their opponent.  When they are free to sail in the open, there is no one faster or steadier in their boat handling. The Kiwi’s made some gains upwind and Oracle even ducked them once.  But Oracle, coming back on starboard tack, made the Kiwis tack very close to the windward mark and simply rolled through to leeward and sped off to a huge lead.  On the second windward leg, Oracle pushed the Kiwi’s into the lower right corner by tacking on them.  This produced a 200 meter gain at the next cross. Game over.

 We had a bit of a rift on Rosehearty for the first time ever!


None of the rest of the races for the day meant anything to the standings of the qualification series.

Race 28: BAR vs. Japan.  BAR got to leeward of Softbank team Japan and luffed them to a halt just after starting.  Picking his moment to accelerate away, Ainslie stretched to a massive lead on the first run. Japan closed up the first windward leg and went for a cross at the top of the leg but fouled BAR.  This may have been a calculated  foul as ducking the Brits would have left the Japanese in no mans land and the extra tack would have cost 10 lengths where the penalty cost just two lengths. Still the Brits were back in front and maintained control up the second windward leg, game over.  This leave the Japanese as clearly the worst performers of the qualification series and likely suspects to be chosen by the Kiwi’s for the semi finals.

Race 29: France vs. Sweden: Outteridge hooks France and shuts them out at right end of the line.  Penalty to France while the Swedes fly away.  During the course of this race, the French were not able to foil consistently in the now 8 knots of wind.  Artemis had a 96% fly time and won the race by over 2 minutes.

Race 30: USA vs BAR. Spithill dominates the Brits on the start by pushing them down to the lay line for the pin and the gaping up to windward and rolling over BAR.  Then a bit early, the American Team sails down over the Brits and gases them i the final 10 seconds to have a handy lead off the line.  The American’s showed excellent control of their machine and good tactical decision making today. Their best day so far. BAR struggled a bit in the light air having a lower fly time that USA and USA went on to win by 35 seconds.

Final points for the Qualifications Series:

Oracle Team USA     9

ETNZ                           8

Land Rover BAR       6

Artemis- Sweden       5

Japan                           3

France                         2

17:30 update:

Tomorrow’s schedule:

1408 SF1: Race 1   NZL GBR
1437 SF2: Race 1   SWE JPN
1506 SF1: Race 2   GBR NZL
1535 SF2: Race 2   JPN  SWE

The shore teams for the four teams will be working hard through the night to be sure everything is perfect for tomorrow morning. Who knows, someone may have a configuration or board change to employ.  All these teams need to keep evolving in these next two weeks.



Last night after I wrote my piece I realized that there is a lot at stake in today’s race between ETNZ and Oracle.  In fact, it may be the first race of the America’s Cup Finals!

If ETNZ wins the Louis Vuitton Cup, they will race Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup Finals starting June 17 and each race in that series will count the same as today’s race.  That is because the winner of this series which ends today, takes one point into the America’s Cup (AC).  So tune in at 13:00 Eastern today because it’s game on!

Now, of course,  as in all things America’s Cup, there is a caveat.  If ETNZ win this race today and then lose to say Artemis in the Louis Vuitton Cup (Challenger Finals), Artemis does not take the “point” into the AC. The only thing for sure is that if Oracle win, they will start the AC final with a one point advantage. I would say it is better than 50/50 that ETNZ will be the challenger in the America’s Cup Final so thats where I get to:

Today is the first race of the 35th America’s Cup.

On another note, and this is for sure, ETNZ will be the top challenger at the end of today and therefore have to pick their opponent for the Louis Vuitton (LV) semi final, which begins tomorrow. Who do they pick?  BAR who admittedly has struggled but has an army of technicians who could help improve speed or Softbank Team Japan who has looked brilliant at times but also struggled to “close the deal” when leading.  The other factor is that Dean Barker, skipper of Softbank, is a Kiwi and was the skipper of ETNZ for 10 years including the 2013 AC in San Francisco.  I would not put it beneath Grant Dalton, CEO of ETNZ, to use the Kiwi media to put pressure on Dean.  This, even though it was Dalton who dismissed Barker after the 2013 loss.

Just food for thought.  Enjoy the race!


Artemis back on their game!


The wind was back today on Great Sound! 15 knots of wind from the South greeted the competitors and four races were held.  Different to other days, the wind was steady in both direction and velocity across the course. This made the racing less volatile and relatively tame.  All teams were on their high speed boards. In each of the four races, the team that won the start, led the entire way.  There were no lead changes; something that we had gotten used to and love to see.

In race 23, NZL to leeward, controlled Japan at the start, and sailing very smoothly, stretched their lead bit by bit to win comfortably.

In race 24, Artemis (SWE) hooked Oracle in the prestart and led off the line and throughout the race.  Artemis looked solid and back on form as they handed the American’s just their second loss, both at the hand of the Swedes.

Race 25, FRA was up against NZL. This was a must win for the French who got a bit unlucky at the end of the race yesterday against the Brits. NZL controlled the start and stretched on every leg to win very comfortably.  This race eliminated the French from the Challenger series.  It is always sad to see a team eliminated but that is the nature of sport and the French can be proud of winning races off BAR and Artemis.  This, very low budget, program put a lot of heart and soul into their campaign and they have a good launch pad for next time.

France on their way home

Race 26.  This was expected to be an important and big showdown between two strong teams. Once again, Nathan Outteridge controlled the start and led the entire way.  The Japanese did seem a bit quicker than the Swedes upwind, but the Swedes employed classic match racing tactics, blocking the wind of the Japanese each time they tacked.

Japan is on just 3 wins.

After 26 races, the Kiwis are on top of the leaderboard with 8 wins while Oracle has 7, BAR on 5, Artemis on 4, Japanese on 3 and French on 2.  Whichever team wins this round will take a one point advantage into the Cup finals.  Tomorrow ETNZ and Oracle do battle in the first race of the day and the winner of  that race will determine the winner of this qualification series and the one point.

For stories and complete results, go to:



Softbank and Oracle looked solid in the trying conditions


Four races were held at the very bottom of the wind range today on Great Sound. The wind speed topped out at 7 knots today while 6 knots is the minimum windspeed for racing as stipulated in the rules. All boats struggled to keep the boats foiling, some more than others.  After the first three races, it was clear that the French and BAR were struggling the most and this made the fourth race of the day most compelling.

Race 19. France vs. Japan.  Japan starts on foils, French are not.  Huge speed delta.   Japan is able to foil almost the entire race.  French are not. Japan wins easily.

Race 20. New Zealand vs. BAR.  New Zealand shows strong ability to stay foiling in the light winds while BAR falls off almost continuously.  ETNZ stretches to huge lead and win.  BAR retires on final run.

Race 21. Oracle Team USA vs. Softbank Japan.  These two teams have shared design information as allowed by the rules and trained a lot together.  Both had similar ability to stay on foils. Oracle, late to enter, gets “dialed up” above the entry line. After one minute, Oracle gets penalized for not entering the starting box. Japan has lead into first mark and down to the bottom gate and maintains the led up the first windward leg and down the first run.  At the bottom gate for the second time, Oracle creates the split, takes left gate and heads right.  Oracle has decent wind despite that side being slightly under the land.  As the teams cross with Japan still in the lead and heading to the right (west), Japan falls into less wind while Oracle now finds more wind on the left.  When Japan tacks, their leeward hull falls in the water and they can’t get foiling.  Oracle remains foiling in the good pressure on the left side of the course and makes a 300 meter gain and takes lead. Oracle remains in control and takes win.

Race 22.  BAR vs. France.  We could tell from the previous races that these two teams were struggling about equally and suspected that this would be a good match, and albeit painfully slow, they didn’t disappoint.  BAR got a penalty on France in “dial up”. Cammas does a great job of working off the penalty with minimal loss of distance. Down the first run, as both boats gybe, they both come off the foils and sit down in the water. They become displacement boats rather than foiling boats.  Unfortunately, it looks like both these teams are deficient with their boards or possibly the power being generated by the wing.  The race was a true battle with many lead changes.  The race was shortened to finish at the top of the second windward leg. Around the last bottom gate, both boats took the left mark with BAR following the French by 60 meters.  The French made a good rounding foiling throughout.  Ainslie tacked shortly after rounding as he was in the French turbulent air. The French do not cover!  The French stretch into the lower right hand corner, behind the land. They tack and get stuck in lighter wind, not foiling.  BAR on the left is foiling the entire time and comes back just 20 meters behind the French.  At the next and final cross, the French have to duck and cross behind BAR.  BAR wins.

The final race was the best race of the day.  It looks like Japan, Oracle and ETNZ have the right foils and or ability to generate more power from the wing.  We will see these conditions again.  Is Artemis in the same league.  We don’t know as they didn’t race today.

The beautiful SV Rosehearty on the race course yesterday…no wind.

Another interesting note is that after Oracle finished their one and only race today, they stayed out  and trained alone for another hour when normally, all teams head in after they finish racing.  Despite leading the qualification rounds and looking likely to take the point for winning this stage into the Cup, Oracle press on knowing that their speed today is not enough to win the Cup in three weeks time.

Four races are schedule for tomorrow and the forecast has the wind up a bit to 8-12.  Four races are then scheduled for Saturday and this qualification round will be over. The Defender will go off on his own and the last place challenger will be dropped from the competition.  The remaining four challenger will begin the semi finals on Tuesday June 6 and finish by June 9.

Tomorrows line up:

ETNZ vs. Japan

Sweden vs. USA

ETNZ vs. France

Japan vs. Sweden


Go Warriors!