The fight is on to close the gap

photo: Sam Greenfield
Bermuda (BDA) - 35th America's Cup 2017 - 35th America's Cup Match Presented by Louis Vuitton
photo: Ricardo Pinto

The fight back is on.

ORACLE TEAM USA is working continuously in an effort to bridge a performance gap with Team New Zealand in light winds like those the teams competed in this past weekend. 

"Clearly we're not fast enough relative to Team New Zealand in those conditions," said team General Manager and COO Grant Simmer.

"We're looking in all areas, including how we sail the boat and how we set it up. You'll see differences in appendages, for example, and hopefully that translates into improvements in this wind range."

Simmer says the opposition has improved its performance since ORACLE TEAM USA beat the Kiwis in the opening series of the event three weeks ago. 

"They have sped up significantly between when we raced them in the Qualifiers and beat them in two races, and this past weekend. We know we've made changes and become faster since then, but they've made a bigger jump and now we have to close that gap.

"We've identified a few things which we're going to go out and test over the next few days, modifying our appendages a bit and hopefully we can bridge the gap and improve our performance in that wind range."

Simmer has held a central role in two of the bigger comebacks in America's Cup history, in 1983 as a young navigator aboard Australia II and 30 years later as the general manager of ORACLE TEAM USA in 2013.

"It's not a scorecard you'd aspire to have after the first weekend," Simmer said, with his team down 3-0 in the first to seven series.

"But the mood in the team is positive and aggressive in terms of attacking the problem and making improvements.

"In 2013 we made a lot of changes to the way we sailed the AC72 during the America's Cup and that meant we learned how to foil upwind and that became the decisive factor.

"Here, both teams are already foiling upwind and downwind and through tacks and gybes, so we have to look harder to find little areas where we can make small gains all the way around the race course in this wind range."

ORACLE TEAM USA was on the water for a long testing session on Tuesday afternoon. Monday was spent in performance analysis and planning the week of improvements. 

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