Fukuoka, Japan, Saturday, November 19, 2016
With just one more day of racing left in the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series, the overall series lead remains up for grabs.
On Saturday, ORACLE TEAM USA posted improving results over the course of the afternoon, with a 4, 2, 1 scoreline, leaving the defending America's Cup champion just one point off the lead.
"We sailed pretty well today," said skipper Jimmy Spithill. "We were on the back foot in the first race, but the boys rallied and you have to be able to come back from those tough situations and we did a good job of that today."
Watch the video highlights
Conditions were challenging, on the verge of foiling at the top end of about 12 knots of wind, but sailing with the big Code 0 headsails when the wind dropped to the lighter 6-8 knot range.
"These boats are pretty physical in these conditions, so it wasn't easy out there," Spithill said.
Sunday racing is scored with double points, meaning sixty points are available to the winner of the three scheduled races. Currently, ORACLE TEAM USA is in second place on the series leaderboard, 15 points behind former teammate Ben Ainslie's British challenge.
Spithill says the goal remains the same - a win in Fukuoka as well as the overall series title. But he admits it won't be easy.
"I think we have to come out tomorrow and go as hard as we can. It's so difficult to push one boat back but if there are any opportunites we'll take them.
"We're not shooting for second place. At the end of the day all we have to focus on tomorrow is winning races."
(An overall series win would be rewarded with two bonus points for next year's Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualfiers. Second place in the series means a one point bonus.)
ORACLE TEAM USA was joined during race one by Hidetoshi Nakata, the famous Japanese footballer.
"Every time I had a look at him he was smiling and seemed a little blown away at how fast the boats go on the foils," Spithill said. "He also looked very natural and well balanced. A lot of guests can have a hard time with that, but he looked very comfortable. I think he enjoyed himself."
The forecast is for slightly lighter winds on Sunday.
Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Fukuoka Leaderboard
Team Name -- Finish Position -- Points
Land Rover BAR -- 1, 3, 2 -- 27 points
ORACLE TEAM USA -- 4, 2, 1 -- 26
Emirates Team New Zealand -- 2, 5, 3 -- 23
Artemis Racing -- 3, 4, 5 -- 21
SoftBank Team Japan -- 5, 2, 6 -- 21
Groupama Team France -- 6, 6, 4 -- 17
Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series OVERALL Leaderboard
Land Rover BAR -- 464 points
ORACLE TEAM USA -- 449
Emirates Team New Zealand -- 443
SoftBank Team Japan -- 420
Artemis Racing -- 412
Groupama Team France -- 377