Spithill wings win
Jimmy Spithill was not about to become another victim of Groupama Team France's giant-killing act.
The Oracle Team USA skipper is busy guiding his team to victory in the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers, and neither Franck Cammas, nor a busted wing was going to stop him.
Fortunately for Spithill, his team were so far in front of the French by the time Kyle Langford, the Oracle wing trimmer, made some emergency repairs that he could afford to cruise to the finish line.
“At that point we had a pretty big lead, so we were able to somewhat take the foot of the gas a bit and nurse the boat through to the end,” Spithill said.
That lead was 1min 56sec at the end, a gap helped by some French mistakes, including a penalty for crossing the course boundary.
Such was Oracle's comfort level that Tom Slingsby, the tactician, was able to get on the one bicycle that the team have installed as part of a new grinding system they are experimenting with.
“It's just this hybrid system that we have developed,” Spithill said. “It's working pretty well. Tom [Slingsby] and the shore guys have been developing it for some time now. We think it's a pretty good blend, and it's something we're going to keep trying to get the most out of, given how physical and close this racing is.”
For France, the highs of beating Artemis Racing and Land Rover BAR have been replaced by the lows of another hefty defeat at the hands of Spithill.
Cammas knows they can ill-afford many more losses, and believes that today's two races against BAR, and SoftBank Team Japan especially, could prove decisive in the fight to avoid elimination.
To do that, they must eradicate the mistakes that hurt them yesterday, and Cammas is confident his team will learn from what went wrong, pointing to the increased speed of his boat as evidence they have already done so.
“We made a fair few errors today, which would be good to avoid in the future,” he said. “Mistakes always enable you to progress, as long as you don't repeat them. As such I hope today [Tuesday] will be useful for the next stage of proceedings.
“Tomorrow's races will be very important and it's true to say that we didn't think we'd win the one today, even if we hadn't made all these mistakes. Inevitably, we're frustrated at not sailing well. We need to be more rigorous tomorrow, anticipate things better and not take too many risks on certain points.
“However, the boat handles better in terms of pure speed than she did during our first match against the USA, which is positive. Indeed, every error equates to 20 to 25 seconds: by making four today, that's a lot in one match like this. It's down to us to learn from this race against the defender now.
“We'll see what happens in the coming days. Tomorrow will be a decisive day.”