AC35: Day 5, Race 5 (of RR2) – NZL v. GBR
Emirates Team NZ vs. Land Rover BAR. Peter Burling v. Sir Ben Ainslie. Sorry, I was trying to warm to all this. But when it is light, the racing, predictably is awful. And, sorry to repeat, June is statistically lighter than May. Welcome to June. In the pre-start LRBAR tried to get a port-starboard penalty against ETNZ but it was green-flagged, properly so IMHO ("in my humble opinion," in online-speak). Arguably GBR won the start slightly ahead and to leeward, but NZL pulled even, then slightly ahead, as they approached the bear away mark. Sir Ben extended and held NZL high until they were almost to the boundary, Then they jibed simultaneously. NZL's was an artful, light-air foil-borne jibe. A real beauty. Ben's was a total fuster cluck. They crashed off their foils, and took forever to get going again. Almost a minute. Ben was heard shouting "What happened. What's wrong." By the time GBR got going again their slight lead had turned into a race-over disaster – trailing NZL by more than a leg when GBR went through Gate 4. Today NZL has noticeably different "kinked" foils, and are very impressive in the light air – as has been rumored all along (hence SI's ranking them second only to OTUSA in our pre-regatta predictions). ACTV are struggling to keep both boats in the same shot, possible only when they pass in the middle of the leg – headed in opposite directions on different legs. This race is also shortened to six legs. NZL's win, I am pretty sure, guarantees that that they will go through to the Challenger Playoffs. GBR probably will still make it through, too, thanks to the two bonus points they carried into the Rounds Robin from the ACWS, and thanks to the loss again today by FRA.
Coda: Had the legs been normal length, the Kiwis might have lapped GBR. Two minutes after NZL finished, GBR called the Race Committee to announce that they were retiring from this race. GBR were 6:25 behind at Gate 4 before they retired, an even larger delta than FRA's loss to JPN in today's first race of 5:59. Sad for Ben, the Cup and our sport.