Winds of fate finally blow in Artemis’ favour

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The ill winds of misfortune have certainly plagued Artemis Racing in 2015.

From damaged rigging at the first Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event in Portsmouth, to capsizing and running aground in Gothenburg, luck has not always been with the Swedish team.

For a moment yesterday it appeared as if those ill winds had struck again, in the form of an umpire’s boat that ploughed into Artemis’ catamaran at a rate of knots just as the second race was getting under way.

The jarring thud on the Great Sound could be felt back in Hamilton, and Nathan Outteridge’s men, who had been denied victory in the first race by some exceptional sailing from Team Oracle USA, would have been forgiven if they had called it a day and limped back to the docks to lick their wounds.

Artemis, however, are made of sterner stuff, and in an amazing transformation they not only repaired the boat with the speed of a Formula One pit crew, they then raced to a win that sent them on their way to taking overall honours as well.

In the moments before the starting gun fired, the team ducked behind the SoftBank Team Japan boat, and as Outteridge turned up towards the line, he was confronted with an umpire boat heading directly towards him.

“We obviously didn’t see him, and they didn’t see us, and there was significant damage to the boat,” Outteridge said. “It was a great job by everyone on board and the shore guys to clear up the whole mess.

“We thought there was so much damage we couldn’t race any further and would limp home.

“The win was huge payback for all the hard work from the guys who stripped the gear off, checked the boat, and got us ready just in time.”

Artemis were not just ready, they were flying, hitting the starting line at 30-knots and taking a lead they never relinquished, leaving Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle to come in second and third.

Immediately afterwards Outteridge said he had never seen his team so pumped up as they were for that moment, and it is entirely possible that their flying start caught everyone else by surprise.

“I guess everyone probably thought Artemis was out of the race, and we sort of proved them wrong,” Outteridge said. “We would have loved to have got two bullets. But we did what we needed to win the event and we are looking forward to being on the podium at many more.”

A fourth-place finish in the final race, where they rolled past Oracle on the final leg, gave them victory in the Bermuda regatta by the slimmest of margins. New Zealand still lead the overall standings, with Oracle second and BAR third, but Artemis are back in the hunt once again.

“We got Jimmy [Spithill, the Oracle skipper] back and it was sweet,” Outteridge said. “It was pretty nice to get him back, especially after race one.”

Victory yesterday was about more than just the overall positions, this was the one Outteridge said they all wanted to win.

The Artemis skipper said victory at the first official America’s Cup race on Bermuda’s waters was worth more than its weight in gold, and meant a lot to his team.

“We know every team wanted to win this one more than all of the events,” Outteridge said. “It was a lot of pressure going into today and we did a great job of easing that pressure to win the first and only event in Bermuda is great.”

It was a less satisfying day for Oracle, who won the first race, but then posted a third place and fifth place finish, settling for third overall.

“We just had a bad third race,” Spithill said. “We got a terrible start, and were on the back foot for the entire race. Artemis was able to slip past us near the finish, and that cost us second place here, and won them the regatta.

“We made too many mistakes in that race and that took us out of the running for the win.”

This story appeared in The Royal Gazette on October 19th, 2015.

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Winds of fate finally blow in Artemis’ favour