When you’re sailing around New York Harbor, anything is possible, as the America’s Cup World Series competitors and especially Emirates Team New Zealand found out Sunday.
Emirates ended the third race of the day with a frenetic comeback from sixth place to take first ahead of Oracle Team USA in 11 minutes to seal the weekend’s title. The finish was possible because of shifting winds and choppy water that caused unpredictable racing patterns.
“I’m sure everyone got a show today, anything from zero to 20 knots and some pretty crazy boat-handling maneuvers going on,” Emirates skipper Glenn Ashby said.
Emirates got caught on the starting marker, forcing the crew to untangle itself from the device and then take a penalty for crossing the start early. Oracle perfectly crossed the start after earlier troubles caused by the swirling wind. They cruised for the first half in front of their home fans until the pack — including SoftBank Japan and later Emirates — caught up.
Oracle came in 19 seconds after the leader, followed by SoftBank at 37 seconds. The finish gave Oracle a 50-point total for the weekend and a second-place finish. Groupama France, which won the second race, took third with 44 points. Emirates holds the World Series lead with 244 points, followed by Oracle with 236 and Land Rover BAR United Kingdom with 227.
The crowds that came to Battery Park City on Saturday to see a spectacle that hasn’t been in New York since 1920 only grew for the second showcase. They were treated to sunny skies and warmer temperatures after Saturday’s delayed start because of mild winds and a substitution race. That race ended up not counting when the teams got in three races on Sunday.
“After you see all the people today, on the shore, the fleets, I’d say, ‘What’s taken us so long to get back here?’ ” Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill said.
Everyone didn’t share the same enthusiasm for the Hudson River. Artemis Racing Sweden won the first race comfortably, but struggled the rest of the day. Skipper Nathan Outteridge said he was frustrated by the conditions.
“We knew coming here it was about the event and putting on a show for the general public and I think today was definitely that, but it was tough to take much out of it moving forward,” Outteridge said.”
But for Spithill and others, it might be hard for other locations to top New York.
“These crowds were incredible, arguably some of the biggest we’ve ever seen,” he said.