The Cup goes back to America. Matthew Sheahan reports on the climax to a difficult event
Did Alinghi hand the America’s Cup to their opponents before the start of race two? During the opening moments of what looked likely to eb the deciding match of the Cup, it certainly looked like it as the Defenders were dealt a penalty before they had even started. Two out of two, no one could believe what they were seeing, on or off the water.
“We were told that we wouldn’t be needed in this event,” joked one of the umpires. “And then we dish out a penalty in each match within the opening minute!”
But, despite a faltering start, Alinghi V hauled back their early deficit to stretch out 600m ahead of USA-17 on the first beat, capitalising on a shift on the right hand side of the course and more breeze to put the Americans astern.
The advantage lasted all the way up the first beat even though the distance between the two boats stretched and contracted as if the pair was connected with a giant bungee cord.
But as the pair approached the weather mark it was neck and neck as BMW Oracle hauled back the deficit, tacked onto port and slowed down a little to let the Swiss boat pass ahead on starboard tack. Once the cross had been completed, USA-17 skipper James Spithill wound the beast up again to get back on the layline, rounding ahead by 28 seconds.
As the Americans bore away, USA-17 smoked down the reach towards the gybe mark 13 miles ahead, hitting a top speed of 33 knots at one point and regularly sitting at 27-28knots.
Meanwhile astern, Alinghi V couldn’t match the pace and saw USA-17’s lead increase to 2min 44secs by the gybe mark. From there it was another drag race to the finish, but this time the speeds of the boats were far similar on the broader leg.
As the light started to fade, so did the wind slowing the pace still further. But by this time USA-17 was over a nautical mile ahead, 2,330m ahead of the Swiss.
And so, after just a shade over two hours of racing BMW Oracle Racing won the second race and with it the 33rd America’s Cup.
Or had she?
Part way up the beat Alinghi had raised a protest flag leaving many to wonder what the issue could have been given the lack of engagement between the two boats. But by the finish it was gone, the result would stand.
Having lost the Cup to a team that he has been locked in a bitter dispute on just about every level possible did he have any concerns?
“My concern is that since Larry didn’t show up the first time around, now I get a chance to shake his hand and congratulate him,” said Ernesto Bertarelli.
He didn’t have to wait long. Seconds later Larry came onto the stage with Russell Coutts, James Spithill and John Kostecki and there were plenty of hand shakes all round.
After chasing the Cup for 10 years, Larry Ellison had finally taken the world’s oldest international sporting trophy. After race one Ellison, who was not aboard the boat for the first race but was aboard today, said that the first victory, “Was a beautiful America’s Cup day, in fact it is my only America’s Cup day!’
Now he has another to add to the list and with it the long sought after trophy for his efforts.
Aside from congratulating the team and continuing to marvel at the wing that had appeared to make it all possible, one of the big questions was whether the Cup circus would ever see agreement among its competitors to prevent the damaging effects of two and a half years of bickering.
“We’ve made no decision on venue, we have no firm decision on a date, but we do have a challenger of record,” explained Larry Ellison. “But one thing I’d like to assure people about the 34th America’s Cup is that there will be a completely independent jury, there will be completely independent umpires. It will be an independent group that manages the next America’s Cup and that it will be a level playing field for all competitors.”
So would this be the end of the outstanding legal issues?
“The only thing we ever wanted was to beat Alinghi on the water with a fair set of rules and that’s what we got,” he continued. “We are extremely happy today.”
Not quite the certainty many were looking for. For that you have to look at the stats.
The team’s win marks only the fifth time a Challenger has beaten a Defender in 159 years. It is also the first time that Challenger in DoG match has won the America’s Cup.
Russell Coutts remains undefeated in the Cup winning 17 races in America’s Cup competition. Apart from that, only one fact matters tonight. The America’s Cup is heading back to the States where it looks highly likely that a multi-challenger style Cup in monohulls will get back under way.
The 33rd America’s Cup was a landmark in the event’s 159 year history. Painful for some, a turn-of for others, but for BMW Oracle Racing and its supporters, a convincing and demonstrative win.
LIVE ONLINE COVERAGE
OFFICIAL AMERICA’S CUP ONLINE COVERAGE
PJ Montgomery, Andy Green and Cam Lewis will provide live commentary on the racing which will include Virtual Eye live animations.
LIVE RACE COVERAGE
Will be streaming live coverage with expert commentators Martin Tasker and Peter Lester, starting with the preparations for docking out. The coverage will then switch to the official feed for the racing. After racing BMW Oracle will switch to their live coverage back to the dock.
ESPN360 Free online coverage
LINKS & INFORMATION
YW PREVIEW SPECIAL
Check out our previews to the Cup as published in the January and February 2010 issues of Yachting World now available in pdf format and available free online.
CLICK HERE -AC33 PREVIEW – THE BOATS
CLICK HERE – AC33 PREVIEW PART 2 – TEAM TALK
CLICK HERE – AC33 PREVIEW PART 3 – COURSES AND CONDITIONS
YW VIDEO CLIPS
Official 33rd America’s Cup Site
AERIAL VIEW OF THE HARBOUR
Aerial view of Darsena and commercial harbours
FOLLOWING THE CUP – TV & ONLINE
More news on this as it comes to us but at present:
ESPN 360 has acquired the internet rights for the free live online coverage.
ESPN360 Free online coverage
WEATHER – FORECASTS
Wind and Waves Valencia – Puertos del Estado
XC Weather Spain – Current National conditions
HOW TO GET TO AMERICA’S CUP VENUE
To Valencia by Air:
The easiest way is to fly to Valencia and then take a taxi. Approx cost of taxi to harbour, €20
See www.valenciaport.com for more information
Unfortunately, at this time of year there are fewer direct flights to Valencia than during the summer season. Therefore an alternative route is to fly to Alicante and either take the train or hire a car. Driving takes approx 2 hours and car rental is cheap.
To harbour from Valencia train station:
A taxi from the train station is about a 20-minute ride.
Heading to Valencia on the A7 toll motorway, connect to the V-15 or V-30 to the port, which is signposted.