Drama at the start but the race is a walkover for the American team. Matthew Sheahan was there
Within 40 seconds, the drama had started in the first race of the America’s Cup as BMW Oracle planted a penalty on Alinghi. So much for the theory that said that the approach speeds of these boats and the fear of a collision would keep them apart.
In a perfect demonstration of talent and tactics, starboard entry Spithill went for Bertarelli who had entered on port. The Swiss couldn’t clear the bows of Oracle having taken longer to put their foot to the floor. No such mistake aboard BMW Oracle who smoked around the committee boat to enter the start box at full pace.
With Alinghi on port and unable to keep clear, the BMW Oracle crew furled the headsail up as Spithill headed up into the wind to avoid a collision. As he did so the penalty appeal flag went up aboard USA-17, answered by the umpires who agreed and dealt a penalty to Alinghi.
A staggering start to the 33rd America’s Cup, but the pendulum was to swing the other way four minutes later.
Having sat head to wind for the remainder of the pre-start, Alinghi timed its turn back to the line perfectly but Spithill stalled. It wasn’t until 1min 45 seconds later that BMW Oracle had cleared itself and returned back behind the line. In that time, Alinghi had been slicing upwind at 20knots and had drawn out a lead of more than 600m.
But as BMW Oracle got under way, its key strengths were revealed quickly as the giant wing sailed higher and faster, eating into the Swiss lead by the second.
They say that the first 15 minutes reveals the winner of the America’s Cup and while we still don’t know the final answer, it was uncanny timing that at 15 minutes the American took the lead.
A lead that they never handed back.
To add insult to injury the American’s furled away and lowered their jib, a tactic that has been the subject of plenty of speculation for some time, even among the team. But reducing sail simply made her go faster and higher.
As the breeze dropped towards the top mark after one and a half hours of racing, the jib on Oracle came back out again.
By the time USA-17 rounded the weather mark the team was 3min 21sec ahead. In distance terms 2,000m.
From here the margin simply increased as the tri stretched away to 3,500m ahead, always looking faster, deeper and happier to sail on one hull than Alinghi. For the Swiss, the downwind leg looked every bit the struggle that the upwind leg had been.
After 2hr 32min 40sec of racing, USA-17 crossed the finish to beat Alinghi by 9min 40 seconds. The pain of finishing second was made worse by having to unload their penalty on the finish line, something they had practiced only a week ago.
But to add insult to injury, the team didn’t complete its penalty correctly and therefore finish correctly. A mistake that saw them have to claw back up to the line 15min 28seconds after BMW Oracle.
So now we know. BMW Oracle does not have a weakness in light airs. Their reluctance to sail around in the light breeze before the start was actually a show of strength, a team happy and confident that it had plenty of gas in the tank and that there was no reason to reveal their best hand.
Sunday sees the next opportunity for a race. A race that could decide the 33rd America’s Cup. At present the weather forecast looks good for racing with similar conditions. A northerly breeze in the morning and a south easterly breeze in the afternoon. Wind speed 7-9 knots.
CLICK HERE to check out my blog for additional, Cup comment, analysis, video snippets and audio.
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
**NEW VIDEO** See BMW Oracle from astern
See BMW Oracle hit 25 knots in 6-8 knots of wind
Take a video tour around Alinghi
Russell Coutts gives a guided tour of the giant wing
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.