Oracle in top form as it finally hits the water 

click to enlarge In for a close-up: The Oracle crew skippered by Jimmy Spithill sails in front of a host of fans on shore. - GODOFREDO VASQUEZ/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Godofredo Vasquez/Special to the S.F. Examiner
  • In for a close-up: The Oracle crew skippered by Jimmy Spithill sails in front of a host of fans on shore.

Oracle Team USA dominated every phase of the America’s Cup World Series events Thursday, with Jimmy Spithill’s team beating Luna Rossa-Piranha in its match race and taking the second fleet race. Spithill’s Oracle teammate Russell Coutts won the other fleet race.

Spithill finished second in the first fleet race, putting his crew atop the standings with 22 total points. Coutts is right behind him with 18 points, followed by the two Artemis teams, Red and White, which are tied for third.

In the other match race, Artemis Racing White edged out Luna Rossa-Swordfish to advance to the semifinals, which will take place Saturday. The other two quarterfinals take place today.

Coutts got off to a fast start in the first fleet race, but attributed the win to making adjustments on the fly.

“In a race like this, it is about managing some of the errors,” Coutts said. “You’re not going to be perfect. The wind is changing and sometimes you make the wrong decision and you’ve got to be able to adapt to what’s next and make the best of the situation after an error. ... I thought we did that quite well today.”

Artemis Racing White skipper Terry Hutchinson said his team took a different approach during the day’s events.

“We did everything that we said we were going to do,” he said. “We had pre-scripted a lot of our moves, and it was nice to see it executed well.”

Spithill gave some of the credit for his success to the cheers of the crowd as his team made its laps.

This event marks the first time spectators have gotten so close to the action, as other locations have involved a two-hour trip from the shore to the racing site.

“It was unreal,” Spithill said of the crowd support. “Like seriously. Every time we came near the beach, we could hear it. And you could see the guys, naturally they just lift. And it was just awesome.”

China Team continued to struggle after losing its qualifying match on Wednesday, and finished last in both fleet races by a wide margin.

Up next on today’s schedule are two more quarterfinal match races, with J.P. Morgan BAR facing Emirates Team New Zealand and Energy Team matching up with Oracle Team USA Coutts. The match races will be followed by two more fleet races.

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