Areva Challenge Cuts Down Desafio Espanol

On-site reporting from Valencia, Spain

Act10Day4
Stuart Streuli

VALENCIA, Spain-Less than two days ago, Desafio Español was the story of Act 10. Riding a four-match win streak, including a Davidian win over Luna Rossa, the hometown team looked like they were close to making a run at the Big Four.However that win streak came to a halt in Saturday's second flight when Shosholoza seemingly awoke from a four-match slumber and outsailed the Spanish syndicate around the course. Today's pairing with Areva Challenge-sailing a 8-year-old boat than was originally one of Team New Zealand's boats in the 2000 defense-looked like a great opportunity for the Spanish team to get back on track, especially as the breeze was quite light and the two 2000-generation boats-the other one is +39's ITA-59-are a little sticky in light air.But Areva Challenge skipper Thierry Peponnet quickly put Karol Jablonski, the Polish skipper of Desafio Español, in an almost insurmountable hole. With just a few seconds remaining in the pre-start, both boats were on port tack closing in on the starboard layline to the committee boat. Jablonski tried to spin ESP-65 and catch Peponnet in a port-starboard situation. But Peponnet, who tacked to leeward of the Spanish team, claimed that Jablonski tacked to close and the umpires agreed, handing Desafio Español a penalty. Peponnet then used the leeward advantage to push both boats over the line early. Areva Challenge was able to quickly duck below the line and start. It took Jablonski an extra 17 seconds to clear himself. The match tightened up again at the second windward mark, but with Desafio Español carrying a penalty, the outcome was never too much in doubt.Aside from that upset, the rest of the matches on Day 4 played out as expected, despite a mushy seabreeze that took longer than normal to settle in and caused both courses to endured an extended delay. The delays prevented today's second flight from taking place.The top four syndicates each picked up wins. Luna Rossa was pushed hard for a lap by the surging Team Shosholoza, which showed improved downwind speed, while Emirates Team New Zealand had a conservative start against +39 that left them 4 seconds behind off the line and on the wrong side of the biased course. They had to rely on the superior speed of the new NZL-84 to pass the Italian team downwind.Strategist Ray Davies, of Emirates Team New Zealand, said this start was by design. "I think we would only change it if the course wasn't quite so biased," he said. "It's not worth risking an umpire's call that could change our destiny. I think it's still a strong strategy to have against some of these crews where their boat is obviously slower in a straight line so really they have to do all they can in the prestart to cause a situation. There'll be times when you've got to have a conservative option."At the top mark, +39 had a 13-second lead. But ETNZ was able to power over the Italian team on starboard tack halfway down the run. As expected, +39 helmsman Iain Percy didn't let them go by without a fight, throwing in three hard luffs. On the third one, ETNZ was able to break the overlap and sailed into the lead.While the South African team won't take a point from today's match with Luna Rossa, their confidence should take another step upward. They sailed extremely well-the crewwork was particularly strong-and finished just 42-second behind the Italian team. A few days ago, Team Shosholoza was struggling downwind-United Internet Team Germany made significant gains on both runs in its match with Shosholoza-but today they seemed to have found an extra gear off the breeze, and as a result some respect from one of the top teams."It took us a little while to get into it and figure out what the wind was doing," said Luna Rossa traveler/wind seeker Andy Horton, who spent much of the race up the rig spotting puffs. "The South Africans are going pretty well. They're not a slow team and they're sailing very well. They were ahead of us half, three-quarters up the beat, then we got a couple of shifts, puffs, and got away from them."With only one flight sailed today, and +39 and BMW Oracle Racing still needing to sail their match from Saturday that was abandoned, it looks likely that this regatta will run into Wednesday's lay day. For now the schedule appears to be moved back one flight, which means the rest of the Big Four matchups-between Alinghi, ETNZ, Luna Rossa, and BMW Oracle, will be sailed on Tuesday.Results from Day 4(Matches 1 through 3 sailed on the North Course, 4 through 6 on the South Course. The left-hand boat entered the starting box from the pin end, the right-hand boat from the boat end.)Flight 7 Match 1 United Internet Team Germany lost to Alinghi by 1:12Match 2 Team Shosholoza lost to Luna Rossa Challenge by 0:42Match 3 Desafio Español 2007 lost to Areva Challenge by 1:20Match 4 BMW ORACLE Racing def. Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team by 1:30Match 5 Emirates Team New Zealand def. +39 Challenge by 0:28Match 6 Victory Challenge def. China Team by 2:26Act 10 Standings Through Six of 11 FlightsPlc. Team Points1. BMW Oracle Racing 61. Alinghi 61. Emirates Team New Zealand 61. Luna Rossa 65. Victory Challenge 56. Desafio Español 47. Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia 27. Team Shosholoza 27 Areva Challenge 210. United Internet Team Germany 110. +39 Challenge 112. China Team 0*Did not finish their match in Flight 6, which will be resailed later.