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One Slip costs Nathan Outteridge's Artemis Racing

by Mark Jardine on 10 Jun 10 June 2017

One slip was all it took for Artemis Racing to end up 2-1 down to Emirates Team New Zealand on the first day of the Louis Vuitton America's Cup Challenger Playoffs. Skipper Nathan Outteridge slid over the side with the teams level pegging on leg 5 of 7 in the third and final race of the day.

Peter Burling and Nathan Outteridge know each other well from the 49er; gold for Nathan at London 2012 with Peter taking silver, then swapping positions at Rio 2016.

Much has been said about Emirates Team New Zealand not wanting to engage in pre-start manoeuvres, instead relying on their boat speed, and the first race suited Peter Burling down to the ground with neither team engaging closely.

As it was, Artemis Racing won the start and maintained their lead until an unforced error cost them the lead and ultimately the race. With Emirates Team New Zealand on their hip, they left it too late to tack at the port side course boundary upwind, picking up a penalty. Once in front the Kiwis pulled away strongly to win by 47 seconds.

Race two again saw Outteridge's Artemis Racing win the start, but this time there were no errors by the team... not even the hint of one. 100% fly-time, perfect tacks and gybes, regularly putting Emirates Team New Zealand in their wing wash. All this resulted in a 15 second win for the Swedish team: game on!

So Emirates Team New Zealand then knew they couldn't just rely on boat speed or a mistake from Artemis Racing, resulting in a far more cat-and-mouse pre-start. Nathan Outteridge kept Artemis Racing ahead of the Kiwis until splitting tacks on Leg 5, where the New Zealand team were just about level pegging with the Swedish team.

A tack on the boundary saw the decisive moment of the race and the day. Nathan Outteridge slipped while crossing the boat after a tack on to port on the boundary. He slid clean off the side of the boat and into the water, thankfully clear of the rudder.

Was it the pressure of knowing the Kiwis were right on them or was it just a slip that can, and does, happen on these boats? Whatever the reason, the Kiwis went on to win the race and take a 2-1 lead after the first day of this first-to-five series where the winner earns the right to challenge ORACLE TEAM USA for the America's Cup.

The racing today was superb; incredible boat handling, very evenly matched teams, classic match racing manoeuvres - albeit without much action in the pre-start - and races won and lost by the slightest mistake, and in the end one slip...

We've learnt a lot from the day. The two teams are very evenly matched on speed. Interestingly, Emirates Team New Zealand had opted for their medium foils, while Artemis Racing went for a light wind setup, but if anything Artemis looked better when the wind had increased slightly. Iain Percy and Nathan Outteridge are constantly talking tactics on Artemis Racing (when Nathan is on board) while Peter Burling and his team are almost silent, seeming to communicate through telepathy.

I can't help thinking that Artemis Racing need to do more in the pre-start to unsettle the Kiwis. They've proved to be vulnerable in the past in this area and take a while to steady themselves after close-quarters engagement.

Once Nathan has dried off, I'm sure the Swedish team will be discussing their tactics for Sunday's three races and we'll see a much more aggressive Artemis Racing on the course. Iain Percy's men will be fired up after their performance today. They know they can match Emirates Team New Zealand around the race course and will be confident that they can rattle them before the start.

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