LVC Report: Areva Loses Race by the Tip of its Rig

A little known part of the rule on penalty turns costs Areva Challenge a hard-fought win over Team Shosholoza.

LVC07-0427
Carlo Borlenghi/acm

VALENICA, Spain-There are many ways to lose an America's Cup race. But after so many races most veteran Cup fans thought they had seen them all. Then came the race in Flight 11 between Team Shosholoza and Areva Challenge. With all the races featuring the big dogs blown off for the day, all eyes were focused on this match that, given the light conditions, seemed to favor the South Africans and their light-air rocket.That was before Paolo Cian totally botched the start. He tacked into a tight leeward position with less than 10 seconds remaining, stalled the foils, and eventually crossed the line over a half minute behind. From there, RSA-83 showed it's light-air potential, gobbling up a 100-meter gap, drawing a penalty on Areva Challenge during a luffing situation, and making the pass. But on the run, the South Africans gave the French team a lot of room to work, and then tore a spinnaker on a jibe, for the second time in two days. Areva Challenge jumped out to a 100-meter lead, which it was able to maintain on the run. As the boats charged down in a spotty breeze, the advantage hovered right around the amount required to successfully complete a penalty turn. Areva Challenge chose to circle around the pin, executing a textbook drop, spinning around the mark and nipping Team Shosholoza by half a boatlength.Then the wrong flag went up on the committee boat, the one indicating Team Shosholoza had won. It had to be a mistake. But it wasn't. The rule states that when spinning around the pin, the entire boat must return to the course side of the line. Because Cup boats are so narrow, so tall, and heel so dramatically, the top of Areva's rig remained to leeward of the line during the turn and therefore the entire boat was never completely on the course side.While they can't be happy with how they sailed, the South Africans came away with a vital win in their quest for the semifinals. Areva Challenge, which won its earlier race against United Internet Team Germany, has to be heartbroken. The popular heroes of the day were the sailors on +39 Challenge, which picked up its first points in the Louis Vuitton Cup with a win over China Team, which didn't sail due to problems with the keelbox on CHN-95, and then surprised United Internet Team Germany, which had built a solid lead on the first beat. The Italian team charged back on the first run and rounded overlapped and inside and then completed the pass on the second upwind leg. Flying a massive spinnaker on the final leg, +39 held on to its lead for a big win. The struggles of this team are well documented: months without pay, little money for sails or development, then a broken rig in Act 13. Their first earned win earned a big round of applause in the media center.Flight 9North CourseAreva Challenge d. United Internet Team Germany by+39 Challenge d. China Team by DNSSouth CourseNo races completedFlight 10North Course+39 Challenge d. United Internet Team Germany by 1:00Areva Challenge d. Team Shosholoza by South CourseNo races completedOverall Standings Through 11 Flights (Flights 10 and 11 only partially completed)BMW Oracle Racing (8 races sailed) 17 pointsEmirates Team New Zealand (8 races sailed) 16 pointsLuna Rossa Challenge (8 races sailed) 15 pointsMascalzone Latino-Capitalia (8 races sailed) 14 pointsDesafio Español 2007 (8 races sailed)15 pointsVictory Challenge (8 races sailed ) 12 pointsTeam Shosholoza (10 races sailed) 12 pointsAreva Challenge (10 races sailed) 9 points+39 Challenge (10 races sailed) 6 pointsUnited Internet Team Germany (10 races sailed) 3 pointsChina Team (10 races sailed) 1 point