Americas Cup Challengers Face Light Air Of Change
Today's racing brought a change of conditions from the past two days, heavy Northerlies giving way overnight to gentle South winds blowing from 7-13 knots. The winds were shifty however, both in velocity and direction, and the afterguards earned their keep trying to work the boats around the course efficiently.
Several of the matches featured close racing. Young Australia pushed the favoured Stars & Stripes hard, charging back ferociously on the third beat to weather to make the final downwind a thriller. Abracadabra gave Luna Rossa a scare, the embattled Americans taking the first leg off the Italians and staying in touch all race. And Bravo España forced America True into a hard tacking duel before eventually falling back on the final upwind turn. Only two winners had an easy day, AmericaOne beating Young America handily while Asura sailed the course alone for a win - its opponent Be Happy in the shed undergoing repairs.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP ROUND ROBIN TWO,
LUNA ROSSA BEAT ABRACADABRA - DELTA 01:34
Chris Larson sailing Abracadabra 2000 (USA-54) fought valiantly in the pre-start with Francesco de Angelis sailing Luna Rossa (ITA-45), winning the right and sailing off on his own to the favoured side for several minutes. Luna Rossa eventually followed from a position to weather, but the puffs were coming from the right and Abracadabra pulled forwards and lifted higher for most of the first beat. The wind proved shifty and complex to predict and Luna Rossa came back into the match near the end of the leg. But the Hawaiian team was not going to be fazed by the mighty Prada, and pinned the Italians out beyond the starboard tack layline. Luna Rossa, alongside now, responding to a long luff but couldn't hang into the wind for as long as the Americans and eventually chose to tack away rather than risk a penalty. Abracadabra rounded the first mark with a lead of 29 seconds. The first run saw the Hawaiians set a symmetrical spinnaker and lose more than a minute to the Italians with their asymmetric sail, with better speed, and better choice of route down the leg. The pair continued around the course in extremely shifty winds with the lead growing and diminishing regularly upwind. Torben Grael calling the tactics on Luna Rossa, masterfully kept his charge in phase and was never too threatened for the lead.
AMERICA TRUE BEAT BRAVO ESPAÑA - DELTA
Pedro Campos sailing Bravo España (ESP- 47) won the start by one second from John Cutler steering America True (USA-51) as both boats started side-by-side at speed near the committee boat on starboard tack. Seconds later the Spanish skipper was forced away onto port tack. As they came together a few minutes later, Cutler on port tack crossed the Spanish boat by about one and a half boat lengths, lifting on a left-hand shift. Over the next four legs in shifty conditions that varied in strength and direction, Campos repeatedly closed within two boat-lengths but could never break through. A sustained tacking duel on the second weather leg saw the Spanish boat tack 26 times, only to trail the Americans into the weather mark. Cutler increased his lead on the next two legs, finishing comfortably in front.
ASURA WON, BE HAPPY DID NOT
The Nippon Challenge boat Asura picked up a welcome four points by sailing alone, after the Swiss be hAPpy (SUI-59) announced it would not sail again in Round Robin Two. Peter Gilmour and his crew enjoyed the early sunshine on the Hauraki Gulf, sailing around the Atlantic course to collect the win.
AMERICAONE BEAT YOUNG
AMERICA - DELTA 01:46
This race was won in the pre start when Paul Cayard on AmericaOne (USA-49) forced Ed Baird and Young America (USA-58) well above the start line. Both boats started over one minute late, but Cayard was able to lead the way back across the line. Baird followed bow to stern as the boats reached down and rounded to cross the start line right at the pin end. Young America worked desperately to escape cover, throwing in three fast tacks just after crossing the line, but in the process lost all boat speed. Cayard stayed on top of his opponent until, seeing Baird dead in the water, he took off for the favoured right side of the course. One wind shift later, Cayard had a handy two minute advantage and he was never threatened the rest of the way.
STARS & STRIPES BEAT YOUNG AUSTRALIA -
Stars & Stripes (USA-55) and Young Australia (AUS-31) both started on starboard tack at the pin end of the start line, the Americans crossing four seconds ahead. After five minutes James Spithill could squeeze up and forced Stars & Stripes to tack - but he gave Ken Read the favoured right side. The Americans tacked back to starboard a few boat-lengths further showing a gain on that first right hander. Spithill could not cross in front of Stars & Stripes and was bounced back to the left. Coming back again Young Australia was bare headed when changing headsails. It lost some valuable ground and trailed 43 seconds at the top mark. After that Read slowly extended his lead until the last beat when Spithill initiated a tacking duel. After 27 tacks Young Australia closed the gap. The delta at the last top mark was only 28 seconds and on the run it looked like the Aussies would overhaul Stars & Stripes. But Spithill overplayed his hand and the Australians stalled the boat doing a dummy gybe, at the time, within only one-boat length of Stars & Stripes. But the play backfired. Read gybed anyway, without losing speed and went on to lead the Australians across the finish line.
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