An historic win and a Chinese gybe are just two of the issues that are being talked about in Malmo's bars tonight
Friday’s blustery conditions saw more drama on the race course in one day than many had seen in an entire series.
To kick things off, the South African Shosholoza team scored their first ever match race win in America’s Cup racing in a closely fought match against the Swedes. Putting a point on the board after their agonising start to 2005 in Valencia, was a key moment in the development of their campaign. As one commentator put it, ‘you only get to score your first point once, this is a big day for the South Africans.’
The win was all the more impressive given the competition that Shosholoza was up against, the Swedes who themselves have been impressive when squaring up to some of the big boys. And while a point on the board will be a good enough reason for celebration, the manner in which they won it has clearly boosted the South African’s self confidence. From the start they got into the lead and held onto it, despite the Swedes pushing hard to trip them up.
“This is our first match race win and it means a lot to our whole team to notch one on the board,” said bowman Ken Venn. “On top of this we were defending a lead in a race for the first time. In the past we’ve always been following and attacking so it’s nice to know that we can be comfortable defending a lead too.”
Sadly the winning streak wasn’t to continue as their boom broke during the pause between racing when a big squall swept across the race course. The South Africans had to retire in their match against Iain Percy’s 39 team, a match that many believed the South African’s could have scored another point from given their performance in the morning.
“We felt that the momentum of that race win should have carried us through the next race as we had such a good rhythm on board and we were really looking forward to going out there and having another bash at it,” continued Venn although he was quick to reiterate the significance of the victory.
“We’ve broken the seal, unleashed ourselves.”
As the day progressed the action spiced up as big squalls swept across the course taking the wind speed from 5 knots to 25. The downwind jitters were first evident when Alinghi, normally note perfect, came close to spinning out in a gybe.
Just minutes later, China team did the same but they spun out completely and laid their AC boat close to flat in the water in a spectacular broach. No one could remember seeing an AC boat this far over with the keel still attached.
“We were confident, perhaps too confident at that moment, that we could get past the Germans. When we gybed we had 28 knots of wind and unfortunately we were not able to trim the spinnaker as we had a riding turn on the winch and we were unable to ease the sheet,” said helmsman Pierre Mas.
“It was amazing that we didn’t break anything, not even the spinnaker. We had some water down below, although not much more than usual, but in the forward cockpit there was a lot of water, perhaps a few tonnes.
“This is a new keel for the boat, it has been built a little stronger than the previous keel and I’m not sure that the old keel would have supported this kind of stress.”
Most AC keels are only designed to heel to around 45 degrees or so, pushing them beyond this as the Chinese did, could run the risk of taking the steel fin beyond its elastic limit and creating a weakness within the material. Although they were putting a brave face on it, there will no doubt be some worried techies and frantic calculations behind the scenes.
The Spanish had their share of dramas too, breaking their boom in a gybe and nearly losing the plot with it. As it was, the damage was serious enough to see them retire from the race.
The Swedes, having lost to the South Africans were putting up a good fight against BMW Oracle in the boisterous conditions until their headsail blew out of the groove and forced them to retire too.
At the other end of the extreme, the Kiwis looked composed and confident in the big breeze and while mindful of how quickly things can go pear shaped, never looked like putting a foot wrong.
Tomorrow’s weather promises much of the same, so expect plenty more action.
Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA 74) beat United Internet Team Germany (GER 72), delta 1:40
Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL 82) beat Desafío Español 2007 (ESP 67), delta 0:33
Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team (ITA 77) beat China Team (CHN 69), delta 1:09
Alinghi (SUI 75) beat 39 Challenge (ITA 59), delta 1:45
BMW ORACLE Racing (USA 76) beat K-Challenge (FRA 60), delta 1:12
Team Shosholoza (RSA 83) beat Victory Challenge (SWE 73), delta 1:20
Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA 74) won, Desafío Español 2007 (ESP 67) retired
United Internet Team Germany (GER 72) beat China Team (CHN 69), delta 6:32
EmiratesTeam New Zealand (NZL82) beat Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team (ITA77),delta 2:58
Alinghi (SUI 75) beat beat K-Challenge (FRA 60), delta 1:04
39 Challenge (ITA 59) won, Team Shosholoza did not start
BMW ORACLE Racing (USA 76) won, Victory Challenge (SWE 73), retired
Malmö-Skåne Louis Vuitton Act 6 Points Leaderboard
Emirates Team New Zealand 4
Luna Rossa 4
BMW ORACLE Racing 4
Desafío Español 2007 2
Victory Challenge 1
Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team 1
Team Shosholoza 1
39 Challenge 1
United Internet Team Germany 1
China Team 0
****** LIVE AUDIO ******
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