ORACLE TEAM USA recorded two second place finishes and a fifth in the first three races of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman on Saturday. With 8 knot winds throughout the day on the Sea of Oman, sailing under light conditions offered a new challenge for the six-team fleet, and ORACLE TEAM USA focused on learning how to get the most out of the boat.
“It was really tough conditions, but this is something we’ve been wanting to work on for a long time. I think it’s actually great for us,” said skipper Jimmy Spithill. “Tom did a great job today with the wind – it was hard to see. The boys also did great with the maneuvers. We’re still learning how to get more speed out of the boat. I thought we took a good step in the last race today.”
In the first of three races on Saturday, ORACLE TEAM USA maintained a solid second position throughout the race, crossing the line 0:31 seconds behind winner Emirates Team New Zealand. A slow start in Race 2 plagued Spithill and crew. The team was unable to make up ground and finished fifth after a penalty to Artemis Racing, while Land Rover BAR took the win.
For the third race, the team continued to make adjustments and rallied back for another second-place finish as Land Rover BAR crossed the line 1:05 in front.
“We’re still learning how to best sail in this light wind and it’s very much about finesse and really playing the different modes. We were making adjustments all through the day,” said trimmer Kinley Fowler. “We had a pretty horrible middle race, and we learned a lot from that, then I think we had some good transitions in the final race, which is always good – transitions are hard in these conditions. So, it was great that we were able to keep our second place position.”
ORACLE TEAM USA collected 24 points on Saturday for second place overall in Oman. Land Rover BAR is on top with 28.
With Super Sunday racing on tap tomorrow, the leaderboard could look different after the weekend’s racing wraps up. Three races on Sunday each count for double points.
“For us, it was all about trying to learn as much as we could today, really capitalize on it and take that into tomorrow,” Spithill said. “Three races tomorrow, double points, it’s all on tomorrow. As we’ve seen at every event, it’s going to come down to the last race.”
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman marks the first time America’s Cup racing has come to the Middle East and kicks off the 2016 season. Racing begins at 14:00 local on Sunday, with three races scheduled. The race course runs along the Al Mouj Golf Course in Muscat, along 2.5 km of unspoiled Arabian coastline.