A TRUE MATCH RACE
Italy's Prada Team is proving an almost unstoppable force in the Americas Cup challenger series races on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.
Prada's top yacht, Luna Rossa, notched up another win today against Young Americas' new boat, USA 58, skippered by Ed Baird.
Luna Rossa's skipper, Francesco de Angelis, scored another important victory today, beating Young America by 1 minute 14 seconds.
The race was fought in ideal weather conditions - with a Northeasterly breeze of 10 knots, light swell and sun.
Luna Rossa entered the start box from starboard and the skippers battled to gain the favoured position on the start line.
The boats opted for a split tack start, with Luna Rossa 3 seconds ahead on port tack on the Committee end of the line and Young America on starboard.
At the first cross de Angelis was ahead by half a boat length, and Baird forced a tacking duel: a total of 23 tacks tested the mobility of Luna Rossa and de Angelis.
Luna Rossa defended the right side of the course and managed to keep the lead, rounding the first windward mark 21 seconds ahead of the Americans; de Angelis hoisted the spinnaker whilst Young America went for a gybe set with the gennaker.
Luna Rossa sailed the following legs at times covering hard, at times letting her rival go, but always keeping the lead.
Young America managed to gain 7 seconds in the first run and Luna Rossa rounded the mark 14 seconds ahead.
At the end of the following beat de Angelis still had the same lead. At the second leeward mark the Americans lost the gennaker over the foredeck on the drop and Young America USA 58 almost stalled on the sea.
The crew tried to bring the sail back on board but had to cut it free and let it go. Luna Rossa crossed the finish line 1 minute 14 seconds ahead of Young America.
Francesco de Angelis said: "It has been for sure a very tough race. We had a very close race, with a long tacking duel in the first beat and a good run downwind.
"We decided to use the spinnaker whilst Young America opted for the gennaker; we expected the wind to pick up and we thought the spinnaker was the best sail for us. Both teams pushed very hard," Francesco de Angelis said.
In the other matches of the day the French won over the Swiss; Dennis Conner fought and won a close battle against the Spanish; Young Australia 2000 was penalised in her pre-start against America True and could not recover; the same happened to Abracadabra 2000 (who had Chris Larson at the helm) who lost against AmericaOne.
THE RACING TODAY - RACE 8 of Round
1st Match Le Défi wins over FAST 2000 (1 minute 2 seconds)
2ns Match Team Dennis Conner wins over Spanish Challenge (50 seconds)
3rd Match America True wins over Young Australia (2 minutes 10 seconds)
4th Match AmericaOne wins over Abracadabra 2000 (2 minutes 52 seconds)
5th Match Prada Challenge wins over Young America (1 minute 14 seconds)
NOT RACING Nippon Challenge
RESULTS AFTER DAY EIGHT OF ROUND ROBIN 2 (4
points per win)
38 pts - ITA 45 (Luna Rossa)
26 pts - USA 51 (America True)**
24,5 pts - USA 55 (Stars & Stripes)**
24 pts - USA 53 (Young America)**
24 pts - USA 49 (AmericaOne)*
17,5 pts - JPN 44 (Asura)*
13 pts - ESP 47 (Bravo Espana)*
12 pts - USA 54 (Abracadabra 2000)**
10 pts - FRA 46 (6eme Sens)**
8 pts - SUI 59 (be hAPpy)**
5 pts - AUS 31 (Young Australia 2000)*
*Have sailed two races less.
**Have sailed one race less.
THE WEATHER TODAY
The gradient tightens through the day as a low developing over the Western Tasman Sea intensifies. Light winds increase in the morning to 13-17 knots, N-NE. Sunny with cloudy periods in the afternoon. NE swell 0.5 metres rising to 1 metre.
THE RACING TOMORROW - RACE 9 of Round Robin
1st Match Team Dennis Conner vs AmericaOne
2nd Match Fast 2000 vs America True
3 rd Match Young Australia vs Young America
4th Match Nippon Challenge vs Spanish Challenge
5th Match Le Défi vs Abracadabra
NOT RACING Prada Challenge
NE wind 15-20 knots. Mostly cloudy.
Windward-leeward format, 18.5 nautical miles; six legs, three upwind and three downwind; the first and the last legs are 3.25 miles long, the others 3.00 miles.
race report courtesy of Prada