AC35: Challenger Finals Race 1 – SWE v. NZL
Artemis Racing v. Emirates Team New Zealand. Nathan Outteridge (AUS) v. Peter Burling (NZL). For the record, before today's race, indeed for the past several weeks, SI has been predicting that these two teams would be in the Challenger Finals, and here we are. First to win 5 (best of nine). Three races today, three more tomorrow (or perhaps only two if ETNZ wins all five), and, if necessary three more on Monday. The winner got forward to the 35th AC Match against ORACLE TEAM USA starting next Saturday June 17th. We are also predicting that ETNZ will win 5-1 or 5-2. Time will tell how good our crystal balls are.
Again, it just looks like ETNZ are playing it cool at the start. Letting SWE have the start, and then tracking them down through the race with their better speed. Despite supposedly being on different foils – SWE on their longer, fatter light-air boards, and NZL on the shorter, thinner heavy air boards – and the breeze being a little lighter than predicted (9-10 knots), the Kiwis are still plenty fast. The Kiwis pass SWE upwind on Leg 3, and sail away for the win by 47 secs. As simple as that.
P.S. SWE did take another penalty, for a boundary violation on Leg 3, just after the Kiwis had taken the lead. Whether it was a simple misjudgment, or the pressure of the moment, the penalty cemented NZL's lead; it didn't cause it. There is much talk on the TV about foils, and Ken Read interviewed Mr Burling post-race about them. Peter said that they are very happy with their "AP" foils, meaning all-purpose, that they were using today given the variability of the forecast. Regardless, they were plenty fast. Barring unforeseen bizarro incidents, this series, IMHO, is all but over after one race.