San Francisco, CA, United States (4E Sports) – Oracle Team USA recorded a crucial victory in Race 8 of the 34th America’s Cup but failed to gain momentum as the next race was cancelled due to strong winds Saturday at San Francisco Bay.
Oracle tackled the 10.16 nautical mile course in 23 minutes and nine seconds with speed of up to 44.58 knots, 52 seconds faster than the Kiwis, who suffered a near-mishap when their catamaran almost capsized.
“I think we have taken a great step forwards,” Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill said after the team’s second win in eight races.
Despite the win, the official score stands at 6-0 because Oracle Team USA was docked two races (or points) over a cheating scandal involving 45-foot catamarans used in the America’s Cup World Series last year.
Leading around the first two marks, Team New Zealand appeared to suffer hydraulics problems as they tacked away from Oracle.
They were left hanging in the air at about 45 degrees on their port hull for an agonizing moment but escaped further damage when they came down on both hulls.
“When the wing doesn’t tack and the boat does, you’ve got problems,” New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said as he heaved a sigh of relief when the boat made through the race without any damage.
“We’ve got no problems, but we will do a thorough check. We will have a regroup,” he added.
Race 9 started as scheduled and Emirates Team New Zealand rounded the leeward gate on starboard, seven seconds ahead of Oracle Team USA.
Moments after, the Race Committee was forced to abandon the race because the wind strength surpassed the 22.6-knot limit set for Race 9.