Oracle unbeaten Swedes & South Africans move up
BMW ORACLE Racing are unbeaten while the Swedes and South Africans move up
The first weekend of the Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 10 promised some great racing, and the teams more than delivered with close action and upsets on the race course, and teams vaulting up and falling down the leaderboard.
On shore, it was the opening weekend of the new Port America's Cup and the public in Valencia turned out in force on a sunny Saturday to enjoy the new facilities that make up the greatest stadium in sailing. The canal leading from the Port to the race area was lined with crowds who cheered the teams in and out of their bases and the America's Cup Park activities were filled with families enjoying a day out and capturing the spirit of the Cup.
On the race course, BMW ORACLE Racing earned an important win over Emirates Team New Zealand, and ends the day as the only team to remain undefeated. Luna Rossa Challenge recovered from a difficult defeat on Friday to knock off the Defender on Saturday; a tremendous victory for the Italian team. And Shosholoza and Victory Challenge each picked up two wins on the day, vaulting up the standings.
The fifth flight was a furiously fought affair across many different matches. Luna Rossa appeared to tie up Alinghi in knots during the pre-start, leading the Defenders off the start line and sailing out to a comfortable lead. The Italians appeared a little too comfortable with their lead up the second windward leg, however, when they allowed the Swiss to get out to the right hand side and find better breeze out there. Skipper Francesco de Angelis looked nervously over his shoulder as the Defenders came rolling right up to them again. But the Italians managed to carry Alinghi past the wrong side of the windward mark, and when ITA-86 dived back towards the buoy they banked a useful lead of four boatlengths. This time there was no mistake and the jubilant Italian team handed Alinghi their first defeat of 2006.
In an equally enthralling clash of the titans, between BMW ORACLE and Emirates Team New Zealand, Chris Dickson (USA 87) claimed the better start to the right although boatspeed soon pulled NZL 84 back on level terms. Neck and neck at the top mark, the boats engaged in an aggressive circling duel before the Americans led the way back downwind. However an early hoist by the Kiwis saw them roll the opposition and force an early gybe from Dickson. When the boats rejoined battle towards the bottom of the run, an ambitious gybing technique by the Kiwis saw their red spinnaker tear to shreds, and although their recovery was admirably rapid, the damage was done. The Americans never faltered on their way to a useful win in the first battle between two new-generation boats.
After leading the early stages of the match, Areva Challenge made an error similar to Luna Rossa's, by allowing their trailing rivals -Shosholoza - to get further right and pick up the shifting breeze first. Unlike Luna Rossa, Areva yielded the lead to the South Africans, allowing Shosholoza to post its first win of the season, albeit by just 14 seconds.
There were other close matches, with Victory Challenge prevailing over United Internet Team Germany by 48 seconds, and Desafío Español 2007 beating Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team by 40 seconds. The only walkover of Flight Five was +39 Challenge's dominant victory over China Team, who trailed the Italians by 1:36.
Flight Six was a much flukier affair, as the wind started to die with the sinking sun. Desafío Español 2007 won the start against Shosholoza, but the South Africans were to the right and used the power of the rules to exert a small tactical advantage over the Spanish. Down the first run, Desafío Español pulled level and nearly rolled over the top of RSA-83, but the South Africans held their nerve and eked out a small advantage again up the final beat. The Spanish never gave up, however, and as the breeze died on the final run they kept the match tight. The South Africans held on to win by 33 seconds, making Day 3 a double-win day for the team.
Victory Challenge and Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team are two teams finding good form at the moment, so this was set to be an intriguing match. And so it proved, with the Italians taking an early lead up the first leg but perhaps not shadowing the Swedes closely enough on the first run. SWE-63 rolled right up behind them downwind and soon moved into the lead. As the breeze dwindled, Magnus Holmberg extended the lead to almost two minutes by the finish.
The 5:07 winning margin disguises just how close United Internet Team Germany kept the match with Luna Rossa. Jesper Bank's team sailed a tight race until the closing stages, when the dying wind exaggerated the winning margin in Luna Rossa's favour.
After losing to Luna Rossa earlier in the day, Alinghi's victory over Areva Challenge ran a little more to plan, the Defenders dominating from start to finish. BMW ORACLE was also sailing to an easy victory over +39 Challenge until the fickle breeze slowed the match down to the point where the time limit for the race expired. Chris Dickson was robbed of a win which would have put his team at the top of the leaderboard. As it is, the Americans share the lead four ways with Alinghi, Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand.
Provisional Results and Points Leaderboard
1 +39 Challenge beat China Team DELTA 01:36
2 BMW ORACLE Racing beat Emirates Team New Zealand DELTA 00:47
3 Victory Challenge beat United Internet Team Germany DELTA 00:48
4 Shosholoza beat Areva Challenge DELTA 00:14
5 Luna Rossa beat Alinghi DELTA 00:34
6 Desafío Español 2007 beat Masczalzone Latino-Capitalia DELTA 00:40
1 Emirates Team New Zealand beat China Team DELTA 07:07
2 BMW ORACLE Racing vs +39 Challenge Abandoned
3 Victory Challenge beat Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team DELTA 01:53
4 Shosholoza beat Desafío Español 2007 DELTA 00:33
5 Alinghi beat Areva Challenge DELTA 02:18
6 Luna Rossa beat United Internet Team Germany DELTA 05:17
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Racing for the 32nd America's Cup - Valencia began with a series of Louis Vuitton Acts in 2004 and 2005. The competition continues in 2006, with three more Louis Vuitton Acts in Valencia, the Host City of the 32nd America's Cup.
Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 10 -
Match Racing - 11 to 18 May 2006
Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 11 - Fleet Racing - 19 to 21 May 2006
Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 12 - Match Racing - 22 June to 2 July 2006
In 2007, a fleet race event - Louis Vuitton Act 13 - will precede the Louis Vuitton Cup, the winner of which will then race the Defender, Team Alinghi, in the America's Cup Match in Valencia
THE AMERICA'S CUP - THE STAGE FOR CREATING LEGENDS.