Two shock results at the Cup. Matthew Sheahan reports on a big day in Valencia
Or maybe one of them shouldn’t be a surprise, but today was a double whammy.
Luna Rossa has made it into the Louis Vuitton Finals, beating BMW Oracle for the fifth and final time. The most staggering fact of all remains that the Italians never conceded a single mark rounding, losing their only race on one downwind leg. A well deserved win and a crushing defeat for the former superpower.
“The boat is the same, the team is the same and we are just following our plan,” explained Luna Rossa’s skipper Francesco de Angelis at the press conference shortly after the finish.
Clearly happy to have made it through what he described as ‘the second gate,’ he reflected on campaigns past.
“Each cycle is a different one,” he said. “The first gave us enthusiasm and taught us how to approach the task with a group for the first time. The second, we learned how you can sometimes make things complicated by yourself. This time I’ve been thinking about that and have tried to make things as simple as possible. To have simple and clear goals, to enjoy the game and keep up with your programme and surround yourself with good people. It’s an obvious statement, but a boat doesn’t perform well if the team isn’t sound and strong.”
The latter at least is a familiar mantra from BMW Oracle skipper Chris Dickson, the words and phrases, ‘strong team, depth of talent etc. etc.’ used frequently when describing the machine. But when asked what his team had lacked in it’s campaign, he seemed less sure as to what the team had missed.
“Wins”, he said at first, then, in considering what else might be at the core, ran through a list of what the team did have going in its favour. “We felt we used the time well, we certainly felt we used the money well and we developed a lot of good hardware. We have a great crew and a great team. If there was one thing we could point our finger at and improve I think we would be happier right now.”
Defeat had clearly been as big a shock to Dickson and the team as it had to those watching.
“We’re very disappointed, this isn’t the exit we had hoped for,” he said before congratulating publicly Luna Rossa. “But the reason for our departure is that Luna Rossa has excelled this week. They’ve been quietly building up and got a lot stronger. They’ve out-sailed us on the race course. Well done Luna Rossa, a well deserved win.”
But overnight, with the team well and truly in the last chance saloon, Larry Ellison appeared to think there was one way to improve the teams performance. Just as he had been the catalyst for change in the last Cup bringing Dickson aboard, this time the tables had turned for the skipper.
“The decision to take me off the boat was Larry’s decision, that was his call to make,” he said.
But unlike the change in fortunes that followed the afterguard shuffle then, today’s tweak did little to alter the team’s fortunes. USA-98 still failed to lead the Italians around a single mark and looked little different in their performance on the water with ‘B’ boat driver Sten Mohr at the helm, than it did during the previous days.
Yet the strange and perhaps sad fact is that as the BMW Oracle shock story developed, little credit was given as to how Luna Rossa have improved to take such a solid victory at the right time.
Meanwhile the new comeback kings and weekend warriors are the Spanish who drove home an impressive win over the Kiwis in a tight match where the finish delta of just 15seconds was the biggest gap between the two boats throughout the entire race. As they crossed the line the crew and the crowd went nuts.
Right now in Valencia you’d think the Cup had been won. Tens of thousands of spectators line the harbour entrance, the Spanish are partying like they’ve made it to the finals and Luna Rossa are doing the same because they have.
And all on a sunny Sunday afternoon. You couldn’t script it better!
SEMI FINAL SCORE SO FAR
Emirates Team New Zealand v Desafio Espanol: 4 – 2
BMW Oracle Racing v Luna Rossa: 1 – 5Match Complete
HOW TO WATCH, LISTEN AND FOLLOW THE ACTION
****** LIVE AUDIO ******
Follow the action live from Valencia
Broadcast starts at 1355 local time (1255 GMT)
ASHORE & AFLOAT
To listen to the daily commentary log on to the official site at;
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If you’re in town, listen on:
FM 99.5 – Valencia
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