Challenger playoffs

The AC50 races mean business now.  In the playoffs everything is on the line.  The intensity of these races did not disappoint.  

There were all types of conditions from light winds to heavy wind and rain.  There were close starts, blow-out starts, various penalties, lead changes, boat parts breaking, boat control issues and a capsize!  Suspense was high.  Any one of these teams could take the win to challenge Oracle Team USA in the finals.

Emirates Team NZ picked Landrover BAR to compete against in the semi-finals.  

Unfortunately, Landrover BAR had wing trouble on the first day and had to retire from two races, putting them down 2:0.  

They made a good effort to come back but in the end Emirates TNZ was a faster boat, especially in lighter winds and took the win 5:2.  

On a particularly windy day with steady 25kts of wind and rain, TNZ did a dramatic pitch-pole when accelerating at the start, giving them their first DNF (did not finish).

Artemis was up against Softbank Japan in the other semi-final match-up.  They were closely matched teams and boats.  At first the two teams split the wins going 1:1.  

On the windiest race day Softbank had a star moment as they were able to control their boat in the rough conditions while Artemis struggled.  

Japan was now ahead 1:3.

Artemis finally got their act together and went on to win the next four races over Softbank 5:3 to make it to the finals.  

The final playoffs between Emirates TNZ and Artemis was just as thrilling.  Artemis is a good starter and by far the fastest boat on the reach to the first mark, usually hitting 45 kts of boat speed.  

However, TNZ had a strong team and fast(er) boat in the end.  They are typically looking for a running start and rely on boat speed to pass other teams in a match, frequently on the 5th leg upwind.  

Artemis was able to hold them off for a while by using different foils.  In perfect conditions the final race day showed TNZ averaging 5 kts faster than Artemis to seal their spot as the America’s Cup Challenger.  

Oracle Team USA are out practicing most days and have been watching all of this action closely.  The Cup starts tomorrow ~ Bring it on!!

© M&M 2016