LVC Report: Two Rahms Make a Right, Just Barely

The Swedish tactical team of Mattias and Stefan Rahm earned their keep today, as Victory Challenge won a must-win race against Desafío Español. But the 7-second win was anythign but easy. Also Emirates Team New Zealand takes down Luna Rossa and +39 Challenge earns a quality win.

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Amory Ross/www.amoryross.com

VALENCIA, Spain--Publicly, the confidence on Luna Rossa Challenge is as high as it ever was. Mainsail trimmer Jonathan McKee said just that after racing, click here to listen. But it's hard to imagine the team isn't wondering just a bit about the speed of ITA-94 after Luna Rossa fell to Emirates Team New Zealand today. The loss drops the Italian team 4 points behind BMW Oracle Racing, assuring the American team of no worse than a tie for second in the overall standings, and 3 points behind Emirates Team New Zealand. The race was close, but despite getting the side it wanted off the starting line, Luna Rossa never appeared to have an opportunity to pass the polished ETNZ crew. ETNZ's Ray Davies explains what he felt made the difference on the first beat in this audio clip.The other big match of the day featured fourth-placed Desafio Español again Victory Challenge, the only team with a shot at knocking the Spanish team out of the semifinals. In a fresh 12- to 14-knot, exactly the sort of day that was advertised when Valencia was announced as the venue for the 32nd America's Cup, Victory Challenge's SWE-96 looked extremely powerful upwind, controlling the first beat from the left side and quickly forcing the Spanish team past the port-tack layline. It almost came completely unraveled for the Swedish team as leeward mark as the foredeck crew struggled to reset the pole after a difficult jibe, then was late getting the jib up, and was then forced to set the spinnaker free rather than make any attempt to gather it in. The Swedish team held on for a very close win-Desafio Español making a big charge on the final run. Navigator Matt Wachowicz of Desafio Español explains why they lost the race, but also why he feels they're the best choice for the semifinals in this audio clip.At the leeward mark rounding, Desafio Español flew a protest flag, possibly because the spinnaker affected how Karol Jablonski steered around the mark. But no protest was filed by the deadline meaning Victory Challenge's win will stand and the team's dream of making the semifinals lives another day. Tomorrow, Victory faces it's biggest final hurdle in its match with Emirates Team New Zealand. Desafio could easily lose both its remaining matches, against BMW Oracle Racing and Luna Rossa, but Victory must win against ETNZ and Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia.The third match on the south course pitted Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia against BMW Oracle Racing, the former now sailing for pride as it was eliminated from contention on Sunday. MLC starting helmsman Jes Graham-Hansen appeared to get the better of BMW Oracle in the prestart, establishing himself just shy of the layline for the committee boat, and to leeward USA-98, and putting the squeeze on the American team as the two boats closed in on the line. BMW Oracle helmsman Chris Dickson took evasive action with 20 seconds to go, trying to dive behind MLC's stern and Gram-Hansen pulled the trigger just a touch too early, crossing the line before the gun. A circle around the committee boat cost the Italian team 30 seconds and there was little they could do to get in touch with the American boat. Gram-Hansen owns up to his mistake and explains why Mascalzone was so aggressive in the prestart here.On the North Course, +39 Challenge finally put a complete race together and easily defeated Team Shosholoza, starting strongly and establishing a solid lead on the first beat. In the fifth match it was Areva Challenge dusting China Team by 3 minutes. +39 Challenge tactician Ian Walker, clearly exhausted by a draining event, was a little subdued after the win. Listen to his thoughts here.2007 Louis Vuitton CupRound Robin 2, Flight 9Match Results+39 Challenge def. Team Shosholoza by 50 seconds.Areva Challenge def. China Team by 3:03BMW Oracle Racing def. Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia by 57 secondsVictory Challenge def. Desafio Español by 7 secondsEmirates Team New Zealand def. Luna Rossa Challenge by 36 seconds