Americas Cup Race Report - Brought to you courtesy of www.louisvuittoncup.com
On a blustery and extremely shifty Auckland day, the Americas Cup Race Committees had to alter course marks to compensate for fickle wind-shifts. The finish line ended up being nearly five miles away from the start area.
Windshifts of up to 35 degrees were regular occurrences and crews had to work hard to predict where the wind was going to move to next. The wind started the day blowing from the North at 14 knots before shifting progressively to the West building to 25 knots at times.
Nippon Challenge again lost an important race because of gear failure. This time Asura lost its mast on the second downwind leg in their race against AmericaOne. The other big upset of the day was the first defeat of Italy’s Prada Challenge in the Louis Vuitton Cup.
The Swiss boat sailed the course alone to collect four points in its match against Young America.
STARS & STRIPES BEAT
LUNA ROSSA - DELTA 01:51
Stars & Stripes (USA-55) was the first boat to beat Luna Rossa (ITA-45). The Italians won the start and crossed the start line on starboard tack one second ahead with Stars & Stripes on port. The first shift went to the right in favour of the Americans. Next shift went to the left and Prada lifted straight to the mark to go around the top mark 31 seconds ahead. On the run the pair sailed underneath a big squall with a huge wind shift. Luna Rossa was caught on the wrong side of that shift and had to sail almost dead downwind towards the mark while Stars & Stripes reached in at speed to round ahead by 11 seconds. The big wind shifts continued and Stars & Stripes defended successfully, extending its lead to 24 seconds after the second beat. The next run was actually a reach and the beat nearly turned into a fetch. Prada could only follow the leader.
AMERICA TRUE BEAT LE DÉFI - DELTA
Bertand Pacé on Le Défi (FRA-46) won the favoured left side of the course at the start, and was unlucky when the expected shift proved to be bigger than expected. That shift allowed John Cutler in America True (USA-51) to lay the weather mark and avoid two extra tacks, rounding ahead by 24 seconds. The wind continued to shift and Le Défi suffered downwind as well, getting on the wrong side of the shift and breaking a spinnaker pole to give up a full two minutes. The French lost more time on the next three legs before scaring the Americans on the final downwind, gaining over three minutes, but it was too little too late.
AMERICAONE WON, ASURA DID NOT
Peter Gilmour skippering Asura (JPN-44) took the fight to Paul Cayard steering AmericaOne (USA-49) in the pre-start. Gilmour claimed and protected the left-hand side and started at the pin a full boat length ahead of Cayard. AmericaOne held briefly on the Japanese starboard hip and then tacked clear before coming back on starboard. A short starboard tack as the breeze went left and then Gilmour enjoyed the inside position as he led to the first windward mark on a long port tack. Cayard stayed in contact for four legs and was within three lengths of Asura and closing on the second leeward mark when the Japanese boat’s mast snapped like a carrot just after a gybe. As the breeze built to 25 knots, Cayard finished the last beat under a small jib and the last run bareheaded.
ABRACADABRA 2000 BEAT
YOUNG AUSTRALIA - DELTA 06:19
John Kolius seemed aggressive in the pre-start today but failed in the end to beat James Spithill in the battle for the left side at the start. The pair split at the start with Kolius coming back onto starboard less than a minute later. Spithill valiantly bounced Kolius back to the right and then a minute later followed. Although Young Australia was on the favoured left hand side, Abracadabra showed better speed and eventually pulled forward enough to cross ahead and take control of the race 15 minutes after the start. Kolius led at the first weather mark by 27 seconds and continued to pull out time all the way round. In extremely shifty winds Kolius and his crew managed to read it all well and never let the Australians separate too far. On the last leg Abracadabra initially set a spinnaker, but then dropped it when they saw that there were problems on the Australian boat, maybe linked to a 25 knot gust of wind.