A strong performance from the Swedes blocks the passage of the Spanish for another day. Matthew Sheahan reports from the course
Success for the Spanish may be more likely to come as a result of a loss by the Swedes after the semi finalist favourites missed putting their place in the next round to bed. Winning the match against the Swedish Victory Challenge would have guaranteed the home team’s place in the semis but, with their backs firmly against the wall, the Swedes sailed competently and defiantly today and in doing so have stretched out the agony for the Spanish.
In tomorrow’s (Tuesday) races both teams face the big guns with the Spanish facing the mighty BMW Oracle and Victory Challenge squaring up to the undefeated Kiwis. Anything other than a victory from the two super powers would be a surprise. But if the Swedes lose then the Spanish will be safe for the fourth spot no matter what the outcome of their match.
But while the Swedes sailed a strong race, their chances of keeping their dream alive looked like it might take a dive when a last minute chase boat kite drop at the leeward mark became a contentious issue. As their bow came close to the mark the white kite streamed out from the boat and looked as if it was going to settle in the path of the Spanish who were rounding just astern.
Quuck to raise both the ‘Y’ flag in protest and unfurl the red protest flag, it was clear that the Spanish were not amused.
“There is always a risk when dumping the spinnaker,” said Desafio Espanol’s navigator Matt Wachowicz. ” It’s obvious that they did it for tactical reasons, they showed absolutely no intention of recovering it, they cut the lines and threw it over and its not illegal. But there is a risk, it can get caught on the boat and other boats can touch it, and that can be a problem. Other teams have done it more or less the same in acts in the past. There is a risk – it all depends on how much the team need to win to want to take that risk. The Swedish in this case really need to win now.”
But not long after the crews stepped ashore, the time limit for the protest came and went with no paperwork from the Spanish.
Although they are already out of the running for the top four slot, Mascalzone Latino would have preferred not to have ditched their chances of a win against BMW Oracle so early in the proceedings. Being OCS will always hurt and, despite doing a good job in the pre-start, the Italian team found itself on the wrong side of the line when the gun went. That was the last they saw of the American team.
Meanwhile, the Kiwis put on a powerful and convincing display against Luna Rossa in which NZL92 and her crew looked very comfortable in the 12 knot sea breeze conditions. A gruesome first beat saw a duel that resulted in over 30 tacks up the first beat and must surely have cost both teams the best part of a headsail. While the match calmed down a little after that, the Kiwi performance looked confident as they marched on to yet another win, building the anticipation for the last match of the round when they face BMW Oracle.
Assuming nothing goes wrong in tomorrow’s matches for the Kiwis and BMW Oracle, the real showdown will be in the last match when the pair face each other. Whoever wins will get to choose their opponent for the semi finals.
Other news from the race course saw 39 score their first win of round robin 2, a surprise result in itself given the talent aboard this boat, but as Ian Walker put it. “You can’t expect to do well when all your sails turn up the night before the event.”
This was no fluky win as the orange men from the third Italian team beat Shosholoza in a close race, but it was too little too late to change their fate.
For those supporters of the real under dogs, the Chinese, (who incidentally have a very cool public bar area on top of their base which will remain open until the end of the Cup), will be sailing their last race tomorrow as they have a bye in Flight 11.
Catch them while you can.
WHO BEAT WHO?
Plus 39 BEAT Shosholoza
Areva BEAT China Team
BMW Oracle Racing BEAT Mascalzone Latino
Victory Challenge BEAT Desafio Espanol
Emirates Team New Zealand BEAT Luna Rossa
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