AC35: Day 8, Challenger Semis Race 2 – SWE v. JPN
Artemis Racing v. Softbank Team Japan. Nathan Outteridge (AUS) v. Dean Barker (NZL). Unlike the first race SWE leads off the line but on the sprint across to the bear-away mark they fall off their foils and JPN jets by them to grab a slim :03 lead at Mark 1. Barker & Co. maintain a plus-or-minus 100m lead through the Leg 4 gate.
Oracle Team Japan – as they are called by the other teams because of the close relationship JPN enjoys with the Defender OTUSA (training partner, technical sharing, and more) – are looking mistake-free and faster today. In past racing they have won starts, but failed to close the deal. Ken Read expresses surprise at how good JPN looks today. But just as Kenny says that, SWE seem to have found their stride, or JPN to lose theirs and SWE gain. Perhaps Nathan & Co. are doing a better job in the shifty wind that is coming from the SE across the main part of the island of Bermuda. SWE continue to close in, slowly but surely, down the Leg 4 run. NZL has just had a poor jibe, and while running across the trampoline to the other side Deano (known in some AC circles, perhaps ironically, as "Tripod") trips on the mainsheet and does a near summersault on the trampoline. He picks himself up and gets to the helm cockpit apparently none the worse for wear. But are things starting to go upside down for JPN, who by now are famous for winning starts then giving away the lead?
On Leg 5 the breeze is going right, favoring SWE. Two-thirds up the leg Artemis have taken the lead.
At the top of Leg 5 SWE round the port end gate mark with a :06 lead. Strangely JPN follow them in rather than tacking to round the starboard end thereby gaining a split. To be fair it's a hard call – lose some distance with the extra tack but gain a split, or follow SWE win ith no split to begin the Leg 6 run and suffer a bit of their wing wash in the process, and try to run them down.
Soon it is clear that Artemis are speeding down the Leg 6 run and opening on SoftBank. Today the final Leg 7 is a short extension of Leg 6 due to the SE wind axis, and Artemis cruise in for a :29 win. It was a closer race than that delta suggests; indeed, a good and fun one to watch, but another big disappointment from JPN who seem to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, same as what happened to Dean and his Kiwi crew in AC34.
So after today's racing the SWE-JPN Semi is now on 1-1, though the TV scoreboard has the black dot for Artemis' Race 2 win in the wrong box. (None of us is perfect, least of all your Ed.) To utterly no one's surprise, NZL are up 2-0 over GBR as a result of Sir Ben's breakdown in Race 1 and their forfeiture of Race 2 because they couldn't get it fixed in time. Of course, both Semifinals are first-to-five (best of nine). Two more races for each pair tomorrow, with even more breeze forecast.
Nathan Outteridge being interviewed by ACTV following SWE's win over JPN in today's Race 2, gaining them a 1-1 split on the day.
SWE's black dot should be in the 2nd race column. Each black dot, of course, indicates a win in the first-to-win- five Semifinals (best-of-nine).