HAMILTON, BER – This is arguably the strangest pre-start that we've seen in all of AC35. The Kiwis stuff a jibe, falling off their foils, and are almost parked up on port tack. Here comes Jimmy on starboard, gunning for them with right-of-way. Kiwis get moving just in time and tack to starboard, keeping clear, just. No protest. Amazingly, the normally super-aggressive Jimmy "Spitfire" Spithill starts go to leeward for the hook but appears to hesitate. Is there not enough time to perfect it?
Instead, Jimmy buries his bows to slow the boat down and avoid crashing into the stern of ETNZ, who are dead ahead by less than a boat length. Then Jimmy seems to change his mind and goes for the hook, now slowly working his way to leeward of the Kiwis. Does he have the speed and time to perfect it? No. The two yachts start side-by-side, the Kiwis this time to windward. Pete Burling bears away, gains speed and slides over the top of OTUSA, and into a small but comfortable lead at the bear-away mark.
The Kiwis were two tenths of a knot faster off the start line, and sped away from there to win and go up 3-0.
From there, the Kiwis speed away yet again. Same speed and slightly higher upwind – except when the Kiwis are in low mode to get across the bows of their opponent with conservative, and classic, match racing tactics - and lower and the same speed, or same angle and faster, down wind.
At the Leg 5 gate ETNZ have an amazing 400m lead, a delta of 1:00. They win by 1:30.
OTUSA have yet to lead a race, and your Ed. is starting to wonder whether Sweden's Artemis Racing – who beat OTUSA in both of their Rounds Robin races, and who at least gave the Kiwis a run for their money in the Challenger Finals – are the second best team here, not ORACLE TEAM USA.
The Kiwis are up 3-0, and OTAUS, er, OTUSA have five days to get their act together before racing resumes next Saturday, June 24th.
Is OTUSA drowning in the beautiful blue-green waters of Bermuda, or can they achieve another amazing comeback like they did in San Francisco in 2013?
P.S. Again today, and no surprise, NBC stayed with Todd Harris (USA) calling the races with Nathan Outteridge (AUS) and Chris Draper (GBR) as analysts, instead of using the popular Alistair Eyken and Ken Read who are the commentators for the World Feed. Until yesterday, NBC Sports were also using Ali and Ken. Again today, NBC had no on-the-water commentator. See your Ed.'s rant about all that posted on SI yesterday. To be fair, the two sailors with Todd were much better today, especially Mr Draper who was entirely more lively and with it.
The NBC commentary team. From left, Todd Harris, Nathan Outteridge, and Chris Draper.