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AC35: Day 1, Race 5: USA wins a see-saw battle with NZL

AFTER A NEARLY DEAD-EVEN START, a drag race ensued. OTUSA on the outside to windward inched ahead and just broke the overlap before the first "bear-away" mark, rounding less than a boat length ahead of the Kiwis. But on the first windward leg ETNZ, with good speed and beautiful foiling tacks, made it look easy and blew by OTUSA. Sailing sideline to sideline, rather than employing match-race covering tactics, they seemed to be speeding away.

However, on the second weather leg OTUSA split way and gained nicely to within 75 meters, but then pooched a tack, falling off the foils, and allowing ETNZ to gain again. But OTUSA regained their composure and kept charging hard. At the end of Leg 5, they made a perfect layline call to the port end of the gate, gaining an inside overlap on the Kiwis, then luffed them (twice) holding ETNZ to windward and beyond the gate. OTUSA protested, there was no collision but it was close, and it was finally green-flagged by the umpires. OTUSA was able to turn and head down the run first, and maintained a 100 or so meter lead to the finish, winning by 6 seconds in the closest race of the day with two lead changes. Shades of AC34, and if our SAILING ILLUSTRATED pre-regatta prediction is right, a preview of the AC35 Final Match. OTUSA is 2-0 on the day, and we'll see whether GBR can remain undefeated on the day in today's 6th and final race.

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