The wind showed up in Valencia today, as did a few of the middle-tier teams. There were more than a few very testy battles, including the first match between two of the Big Three teams. In sum it produced just the sort of day that Alinghi and America’s Cup Management hoped for when they selected the Spanish city to host the 32nd America’s Cup and scheduled the 13 Acts to ensure the smaller teams had ample opportunity to get up to speed. Among the big winners today were Team Shosholoza, which notched a shattering win over Luna Rossa, Emirates Team New Zealand, and BMW Oracle Racing, which notched a very tense win over Luna Rossa. While trimmer Joe Newton says Luna Rossa remains confident, a two-loss day can’t be easy to absorb. Larry Ellison’s boys led all the way, but won by just 6 seconds. BMW Oracle remains the only undefeated team in the contest and leads the Louis Vuitton Cup rankings.The race between BMW Oracle Racing and Luna Rossa in Flight 5 hinged, according to BMW Oracle tactician Gavin Brady, on making the right call off the starting line. “It was just a day of balancing the difference between having the right, having starboard, on the run and the beat, versus going to the correct side of the course, which was the left,” Brady said. “That’s where as a tactician you just switch into, ‘OK boys, sorry, but this is going to be a close one and we’re going to have to keep punching them to the left, punching them to the left, knowing that if we make one mistake they’ll pass us. Put all the pressure on the crew, probably took a bit of pressure off the afterguard in many ways.”The two teams were never more than 60 meters apart during the race, with Luna Rossa showing some good speed off the wind. The delta at the final windward mark was 15 seconds, but Luna Rossa halved that down the final run and it was anything but comfortable. However, said Brady, that’s just the sort of race the team needs to prepare for the America’s Cup. “We’re a lot more comfortable to sail around with a small lead that we used to be before,” said Brady, “because we feel that it will be that way the whole way around the course and hey, you’ve only got to win by a second.”Luna Rossa was also on the losing end of the most entertaining match in Flight 4 as the Italian team fell to a surging Team Shosholoza. Just days after notching South Africa’s first-ever win in America’s Cup competition, the team added another feather to its cap by knocking off one of the Big 3 with a wire-to-wire 36-second win. The win, said Ian Ainslie, was especially nice after the team appeared to let its nerves get the best of it in earlier races against Victory Challenge and BMW Oracle Racing.”This time we got there and everyone stayed very calm and it was great fun,” said Ainslie. “At the finish of the race we were very happy, I didn’t expect to be as happy as I was.”Hopefully our days of being under nerves and under attack are over. We all stayed very calm.”In fact, Ainslie said, the team may even be a bit cocky. Momentum can be a slippery thing in match racing, one bad maneuver can easily send a team in the wrong direction. But armed with confidence and a boat that clearly performs well in the moderate sea breezes so often present in Valencia, Team Shosholoza is going to make life a lot more difficult for the top teams, and the racing a lot more fun to watch.
LVC ResultsFlight 4North CourseEmirates Team New Zealand d. Areva Challenge by 1:55Desafio Español 2007 d. Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team by 0:39South CourseUnited Internet Team Germany d. China Team by 4:01Team Shosholoza d. Luna Rossa Challenge by 0:36BMW Oracle Racing d. Victory Challenge by 1:18Flight 5North CourseMascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team d. +39 Challenge by 1:12Emirates Team New Zealand d. Desafio Español 2007 by 1:12South CourseVictory Challenge d. United Internet Team Germany by 0:56BMW Oracle Racing d. Luna Rossa Challenge by 0:06Team Shosholoza d. Team China by 2:05Overall Standings Through 5 FlightsBMW Oracle Racing 13 pointsEmirates Team New Zealand 10 pointsLuna Rossa Challenge 9 pointsMascalzone Latino-Capitalia 8 pointsVictory Challenge 8 pointsTeam Shosholoza 8 pointsDesafio Español 2007 7 pointsAreva Challenge 5 pointsUnited Internet Team Germany 3 points+39 Challenge 2 pointsChina Team 1 point