Team Origin beat the America's Cup holders Alinghi an impressive punch up in the pre-start

A freeze frame of the pre-start action at ‘T’ -10 seconds in the match between Alinghi and Team Origin would have painted a completely misleading picture and suggested a duel that had been dominated by the current America’s Cup holders. Indeed, for the previous 4 minutes and 50 seconds, Alinghi appeared to have an edge over the British team, commanding the favoured right hand end of the line. But Ainslie, well known for his fierce determination and legendary ability to wriggle free, had positioned himself perfectly in the closing few seconds to force Ed Baird over the start line and hold him there, like a wrestler pinning his opponent to the ropes.

When the gun went it was Alinghi’s bow alone that was on course side, forcing the Swiss team to head back behind the line, while Team Origin put it’s foot to the floor and stretched out a 50 second lead.

By the weather mark, Ainslie and his crew had maintained their advantage and despite a less polished performance downhill with a number of scrappy gybes, the British team led through the bottom gate.

The second beat was a similar affair with little change, but once again on the downhill slide Alinghi gained. But, by the finish it was a case of too little too late as Team Origin took it’s second win out of two races. Small steps admittedly, but important ones for a team that has had to wait a long time to race for real.

Elsewhere in the Waitemata Harbour there were a few other surprises. Among them an impressive performance from Ian Williams and China Team China who, despite picking up a penalty in the pre-start, put up an impressive fight against Russell Coutts aboard BMW Oracle Racing.

The result went the way you might have expected with Coutts scoring a win, but to see China Team in the thick of the action was both impressive and further evidence to suggest that the abilities of the various teams are closer that of the boats they normally sail.

Indeed, it’s a tantalising thought that perhaps the answer to making America’s Cup racing more exciting lies not with designing new one off boats, but with more similarly matched machines. Clearly, such a suggestion wouldn’t go down well with those who enjoy the technical arms race that has characterised the America’s Cup for more than 150 years, but it’s surely food for thought.

Today’s results:

Damiani Italia Challenge (ITA) beat Pataugas K-Challenge (FRA)
Team Origin (GBR) beat Alinghi (SUI)
BMW Oracle Racing (USA) beat China Team (CHN)

Luna Rossa (ITA) v Team Shosholoza (RSA) Postponed – too much breeze.



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Sky Sports TV – Round Robin 1

#3 1/2/09 1900 Sky Sports Xtra
*repeats stc 2200 Sky Sports Xtra
2500 Sky Sports Xtra
0930 Sky Sports 3

#4 2/2/09 1830 Sky Sports 2
*repeats stc 2130 Sky Sports 3
2330 Sky Sports Xtra
2900 Sky Sports Xtra
0900 Sky Sports 2

#5 3/2/09 1830 Sky Sports 2
*repeats stc 2130 Sky Sports 3
2330 Sky Sports Xtra
2600 Sky Sports 3
0900 Sky Sports 2

#6 4/2/09 1830 Sky Sports Xtra (NB RESERVE DAY)
*repeats stc 2130 Sky Sports Xtra
2330 Sky Sports Xtra
2600 Sky Sports 3
0900 Sky Sports 3

For Brit followers Team Origin’s race schedule for Round Robin 1 is:

Monday 2nd Feb:
Race 4 : start at 1400 : TEAMORIGIN vs. Shosholosa

Tuesday 3rd Feb:
Race 4: start at 1400 : TEAMORIGIN vs. Greek Challenge