Alinghi continues to dominate in Act 13 of the Louis Vuitton Cup
For those that thought Alinghi might not take Act 13 seriously, the races so far have proved quite the opposite. The Alinghi team love to be on top, but they like to watch as well.
Their dominance of Act 13 so far with three wins, a third and a fourth, suggests that they have proved their point already. Certainly the Challengers should take note of just how much speed the Cup holders seem to have to burn. Whether they are over the line at the start, or chose to dip a few transoms to get to the side they prefer, their tactics right from the start are not what you’d expect of a finely polished team and yet time after time, Alinghi seems to be able to shift into another gear to haul back the pack and get into the lead.
“They are not getting off the line that well,” said BMW Oracle’s tactician Gavin Brady. “If you want the right hand side of the course there are other ways of getting it, so I wouldn’t read too much into it. I think the Challengers are more concerned at having a look at each other. Alinghi are getting some pretty clear lanes out there, but they are sailing well.”
Nevertheless, at the weather mark roundings the bluff bowed master blaster seems to be capable of bursts of acceleration as if nitrous oxide injected. In the big swell of today’s two races SUI91 looked to have very forgiving foils and capable of accelerating out of difficult tacks a split second after the bow was pointing skywards as she pitched through the awkward seas. At the other extreme, the Kiwis looked to be struggling through the tacks at times, even thought their boat looks slippery once powered up.
Of the Challengers, the current surprises are a) how well Mascalzone Latino are going with their new boat, b) How Luna Rossa have failed to really stand out in all but one race and c) How much the Swedish performance has slipped since last season. Sure, it’s still early days but the clock’s ticking and Alinghi’s enthusiasm to lead from the front, even when it appears they have a speed advantage, should be a wake up call to all.
So what happened today?
The breeze came and held at around 10-15 knots, there was a big punishing swell, as good for spectators as it was bad for foredeck crew. In the first race Alinghi led the way all around the course, barely troubled by anyone else. Mascalzone Latino scored a well deserved second place with Luna Rossa clocking up a third leaving BMW Oracle and the Kiwis to come in fourth and fifth respectively.
In the second race Luna Rossa led the way in a tightly fought battle against the Kiwis and the Swiss until the last leg when the Swiss were handed a penalty for a cheeky tack under Luna Rossa’s bow at the weather mark. The Kiwis meanwhile sailed a perfect downwind leg and stole the lead from Luna Rossa to score a much needed win.
Further back in the pack, in fact way back over the horizon, BMW Oracle were limping around the course having lost three genoas and one spinnaker over the side when a bad wave caught the headsail on the hoist at the leeward mark and ripped the sail out of the foil. The kite went for a swim as well before two more headsails went up the luff and then backwards out of it.
One wave on one mark rounding had cost the American team dearly, dumping it from second, to fifth overall and in doing so risks losing the team the valuable bonus point that comes with wining Act 13.
With just two races left the Kiwis are now 8 points ahead of BMW Oracle but just one point ahead of Luna Rossa with Mascalzone Latino snuggling in between their fellow countrymen and BMW Oracle. With just two races left, sparks could fly tomorrow.
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