AC35: Day 5, Race 6 – JPN v. USA
SoftBank Team Japan v. Oracle Team USA. Dean Barker v. Jimmy Spithill. Another grudge match between Deano and Jimmy, carrying over from AC34. This morning a few friends were predicting that USA would throw this race to JPN but I don't see it given that ETNZ won their race earlier today and are now tied on 6 points at the top of the scoreboard with OTUSA, at least until this race is over. And the winner of these "Qualifiers" will carry a bonus point into the Match, assuming they get through to the Match – of course OTUSA will be there automatically as the Defender. If the Kiwis get through to the Match as the Challenger, and that is looking more likely with each passing day, OTUSA isn't going to want them to have that bonus point.
Pre-start OTUSA cops a stupid penalty when they were late getting into the pre-start box and Dean was able to hold them out beyond the time-limit for each yacht to get in. (I'm trying to find out what that time limit is – please text me if you know; obviously the TV commentators didn't know). Dean has won nearly every start, if not all of them so far. Chalk up another. JPN gets off the line going fast with almost a half-leg lead to the bear-away mark. But Jimmy and boys start to claw their way back, and on Leg 4 USA is only 100m behind JPN and closing. Again today on the downwind legs trimmer/tactician Tom Slingsby (AUS) is pedaling on his perch in the cockpit behind Jimmy to help add hydraulic pressure being otherwise provided by the four grinders forward.
At the bottom of Leg 4, Jimmy does an extra jibe to gain a split at the gate, and half way up Leg 5 OTUSA crosses just behind SBTJ and quickly sails into a 150m lead, according to Virtual Spectator. OTUSA's lead is confirmed at the next cross just below the Leg 5 gate, and the ostensible USA team sails away to a comfortable lead. On the Leg 6 run Jimmy is going consistently faster than Deano & Co., extending their lead to 300m. There is some confusion about whether the race has been shortened again at the Leg 6 gate, but Iain Murray comes on the radio to confirm that it's the full seven legs. ACTV had it right all along. OTUSA cruises to a 32-second win.