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AC35: Challenger Final, Race 6 – SWE v. NZL in the closest race yet; NZL win by :01

HAMILTON, BDA – ETNZ finally look like they will win a start. Gapped off to windward, but they are bit slow relative to SWE, who are are to leeward and pulling forward and then luff. Artemis hold them high above the bear-away mark, and jibe first into a small lead down Leg 2. Paul Cayard speculating that the Kiwi foils are not as quick on the high-speed first leg, but are better around the rest of the track. What we've been saying that for a week.

Up Leg 3, NZL are closing, going 2 knots faster. SWE are ahead at the first cross. Good close race. Kiwis get close but can't pass, at least not yet. NZL tack away for clear air. Artemis stuff a tack. SWE are ahead by 50m at the Leg 4 gate, leading by only :03. Kiwis gain the closer, port-end gate mark. SWE have to sail slightly farther to round the starboard end.

Down Leg 4 ETNZ cross easily ahead of SWE and take the lead. TV showing both teams on 100% Fly Time but I don't believe it, at least not in the case of SWE.

At the Leg 4 gate ETNZ are barely ahead of SWE who round right on their transom(s), only a few meters behind. SWE has to tack away for clear air. Once again the Kiwis speed away, extending up Leg 5 and down Leg 6.

You don't need the TV graphics, now showing VMG (thank you very much), to see that the Kiwis are sailing higher and faster. As Ken Read says, "The Kiwis are just always pointing higher than Artemis."

Looks like an easy win for the Kiwis, BUT WAIT! NZL have a problem at the last gate, fall off their foils while jibing, and here come Artemis. NZL finally get back on their foils, accelerate, and the two boats race side by side down the short final leg to the finish. ETNZ, to leeward, have a slightly better angle into the finish and win by just :01. One second! SWE protest for windward-leeward, but it is a Hail Mary that is green-flagged by the umps, properly so. NZL go up 4-2 in the first-to-win-five series. At least one race tomorrow in what our forecast says will be very light if even raceable. My prediction of NZL winning this series 5-2 looking pretty good.

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