America's Cup update: Win keeps USA in the game

The America's Cup continues into Saturday, as the two races on Friday were polar opposites compared to the previous days on San Francisco Bay. The first race on Friday was delayed due to the lack of wind; however, the race started with Oracle Team USA crossing the starting line first. However, USA did not hold the lead for very long as Emirates Team New Zealand rallied around Mark 1 to take the lead heading for Mark 2.

The winds were still very light, and the Kiwis increased a substantial distance gap to USA but hit top speeds of only 20 knots. Kiwis rounded gate 2 with a 515-meter gap to USA and a delta of 1:42, which at these speeds is very long.

The races have a 40-minute time limit, and with the light winds, it seemed at the time that the race would be abandoned due to the time limit. At gate 3, the Kiwis had a 2:27 delta over USA, but the race was over as the official clock clicked to 40 minutes since the start.

The Kiwis were only approximately four minutes away from winning their ninth point and capturing the America's Cup.

For the second race of the afternoon, the winds were slightly increasing over the bay. Race 13 was delayed as well for the boats with winds between 10.6 to 12-plus knots. This time, the Kiwis crossed the start line first with USA on their heels.

The Kiwis reached mark 1 ahead of the defenders by 31 seconds with speed of 30 knots, which was an increase from Race 12. While the boats were battling to mark 2, the wind speed was picking up, and USA closed the gap on the challengers.

Then USA got a penalty on New Zealand while in a tacking dual. Team USA had to fall off on the course while on a starboard tack to avoid a collision with the Kiwis, who were on a port tack. That mishap did not set back Team USA as they reached the gate ahead of the Kiwis with a delta of 20 seconds, and the Kiwis made a tactical error by jibing and losing boat speed.

Onward to gate 3, where USA had increased the time distance by 20-plus seconds and headed for the final mark. USA rounded mark 4 with a one-minute lead over the Kiwis, and the defenders were sailing for the finish line. USA captured their fifth win by 1:24 minutes and crossed the finish line with 32 knots of speed in light air.

The score now stands at five wins, creating three points for USA (which began with a score of negative two due to a penalty), with the Kiwis remaining at eight wins for eight points as we go into the weekend. The Kiwis only need one more win to reach nine points, and USA must win the next six races to keep the Cup. I will remain in San Francisco until one of the teams captures the Cup.

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to

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