The Hometown Team Earns Surprise Win

Exclusive reporting from Valencia, Spain.


Stuart Streuli

VALENCIA, Spain-After a rather formulaic start to Act 10, the second day provided a bit more breeze and a lot more excitement. The day featured a number of close races, one near upset, an old-fashioned tacking duel, a shredded spinnaker, and one serious surprise.The biggest news of the regatta, and perhaps the biggest upset of all 10 Acts to date, came from the second set of races on the South Course, where Desafio Español 2007 knocked off Luna Rossa, the first of the three teams debuting new boat in this regatta to record a loss. Even more impressive is the fact that the Spanish team won the race despite picking up a penalty in the pre-start. Luna Rossa was behind on the first leg and then ripped a spinnaker early while attempting a jibe set at the first windward mark putting it even further behind. With a lead of 57 seconds at the leeward gate the Desafio Español afterguard decided to complete the penalty turn on the second beat, worried that the dying wind would make it more difficult if they waited until the end of the race. This cut the lead to less than two boatlengths. But the Spanish team was able to hang on for the win.”We’ve been working very hard and we’ve been really trying hard to sail the boat better,” said Desafio Español tactician John Cutler, who was wearing a huge smile in the post-race interviews, “with the aim of moving where we are to a higher level and clearly for one race, all our hard work has paid off. It’s a good encouragement that these teams that have been together for along time have new boats more money whatever you want to say, it’s good to show that if you sail well and do the right things you can beat them.”On the north course, the Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team came within one windshift of scoring a major upset over Alinghi during the first flight of the day, losing by just eight seconds. Had it happened-and MLCT was leading the race by a boatlength on Virtual Eye with less than one-half of the final leg remaining-it would’ve been the most significant upset so far in all 10 of the Louis Vuitton Acts, even bigger than the Spanish surprise that would follow in Flight 4.”I think the speeds were pretty even actually,” said Alinghi strategist Murray Jones. “Maybe we were slightly faster upwind and downwind perhaps they were slightly faster than us. It was tough; they made us work hard. They just kept hammering us coming downwind and they sailed tactically well downwind as well. They made it really difficult, if we made one mistake they would’ve passed us down to the finish.”Alinghi will certainly spend some time digesting why they were unable to shake ITA-77, Dennis Conner’s second boat from the 2003 Cup Campaign. But at least they escaped with an easy win in their second race. Luna Rossa has to be wondering a bit about their new boat after today.Their first race, while it resulted in a win over +39 Challenge, was more troublesome than it should’ve been. Once again Iain Percy on +39 made things interesting in the all-Italian. Percy, who was able to get a pair of penalties on Desafio Español 2007 in Thursday’s second flight, was on the losing end of an umpires call during the starting sequence. While that made a win against Luna Rossa’s new ITA-86 a slim possibility, Percy did his best to make the veteran syndicate work, leading for most of the first leg before relinquishing the advantage near the top of the course on the starboard layline. Percy and his teammates on +39, a number of which came out of the Finn class, hung tough for the remainder of the race, closing to within a half-minute on the final run. But with a penalty to burn, the race was all but over once Luna Rossa was able to take the lead.Nearly everyone expected a competitive race between cellar-dwellars Team Shosholoza and United Internet Team Germany. And that’s exactly what happened. The South African team showed some solid speed upwind, building a 34-second lead-approximately 5 to 6 boatlengths-by the first mark. But whatever the South Africans have done to make RSA-83 quick uphill, they haven’t had similar success with its performance off the wind.”It seems to me that they have a very aggressive set up for the upwind performance that penalizes them for the downwind,” said UITG skipper Jesper Bank. “They are relatively slow on the downwind compared to what they do upwind, so with a slight change of wind we managed to catch right up to them and sneak ahead at the gate. Then it got interesting because we probably opened a lead of a couple of boatlengths in a tacking duel after the gate, but as soon as we left them alone they caught right back up. If the second upwind had been just two minutes longer they would’ve passed us upwind.”As it was Bank and his team managed to hold on to a 9-second lead around the last mark and then used their speed to pull away on the final run for a 21-second win, the German team’s first of Act 10.Today, one of the three new boats took it on the chin. Tomorrow, another one will. Spectators will finally get a match-up of undefeated teams as BMW Oracle and Emirates Team New Zealand square off and Alinghi and Luna Rossa line up. These matches will provide the first substantial clues as to which of the Big 4 syndicates currently has an edge over its rivals.The BMW Oracle boat looked quite impressive sailing today, with strong speed, especially when footing, and the ability to spin quickly and accelerate. Alinghi’s Jones, however, feels that ETNZ has the strongest craft, which may be due to the New Zealand syndicate having had the most time in their new boat.”We’ve yet to race them but we’ll see what happens,” said Jones. “But from what we’ve seen the Team New Zealand boat looks the strongest.”Results from Day 2(Matches 1 through 3 sailed on the North Course, 4 through 6 on the South Course. The left hand boat entered from the pin end, the right hand boat from the boat end.)Flight 3 Match 1 BMW ORACLE Racing def. United Internet Team Germany by 2:10Match 2 Victory Challenge def. Team Shosholoza by 2:19Match 3 Emirates Team New Zealand def. Areva Challenge by 1:29Match 4 Luna Rossa Challenge def. +39 Challenge by 1:08Match 5 China Team DNF vs. Desafio Español 2007 Match 6 Alinghi def. Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia Team by 0:08Flight 4 Match 1 Victory Challenge lost to Emirates Team New Zealand by 1:39Match 2 United Internet Team Germany def. Team Shosholoza by 0:21Match 3 Areva Challenge lost to BMW ORACLE Racing by 1:09Match 4 +39 Challenge lost to Alinghi by 1:16Match 5 Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia Team def. China Team by 2:05Match 6 Luna Rossa Challenge lost to Desafio Español 2007 by 0:34Act 10 Standings Through Four FlightsPlc. Team Points1. Alinghi 41. Emirates Team New Zealand 41. BMW Oracle Racing 44. Desafio Español 34. Luna Rossa 36. Victory Challenge 26. Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia 28. Areva Challenge 18. United Internet Team Germany 110. Team Shosholoza 011. China Team 012. +39 Challenge 0


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