A race that nearly wasn't and one that really wasn't
Cutting it fine, BMW Oracle crossed the finish line in the first fleet race of the day 20 seconds inside the time limit, keeping the race open for all the remaining competitors. Some, like the winners, were confused then delighted. Having rounded the last weather mark 6th, they had no idea when the clock had started for then leaders, Emirates Team New Zealand and therefore little idea of when the deadline would fall.
Others, like the Spanish, were relieved to have a second on the scoreboard, but for the Swedes a tail end Charlie position was not the way that they had hoped to redeem themselves from their 8th position in the previous Act in front of a home crowd.
Yet the Swedes weren’t the only ones to be disappointed. Iain Percy’s 39 team had sailed a superb race for at least 70 percent of it, sliding off the pin end of the start line to round the weather mark third and then the leeward mark in the lead – not bad for an old boat that doesn’t like light weather. But as the wind shut off on the last leg, the race became more of a lottery. BMW Oracle shot up from 6th to first and 39 dropped from 4th to 9th.
In the second race of the day, conditions were again very light with just 9 knots of breeze at the start, yet this time the breeze looked more even across the course and less fickle with it. But by the final leg it was a case of deja-vu as the wind shut off, stranding most of the fleet mid leg. All, that is, apart from Alinghi who had sailed an impressive race, picked the right shifts and slithered down the right fingers of breeze to stretch out an impressive lead.
But, come the finish line they were just five boat lengths short as the time limit ran out. This time it was the South African’s turn to carry the major share of the disappointment. Right from the first beat, the newest boat in the fleet had delivered its best performance yet, holding third all the way around. Skipper Geoff Meek was delighted.
Others were surely disappointed, but I suspect many more were relieved. Had Alinghi finished, we’d all probably still be out there waiting for the fleet to drift across the line for the end of a race that really wasn’t.
Malmö-Skåne Louis Vuitton Act 7 Results and Points Leaderboard
Team Race # 1/pts
BMW ORACLE Racing 1/12
Desafío Español 2007 3/10
Emirates Team New Zealand 4/9
United Internet Team Germany 5/8
Luna Rossa 6/7
Team Shosholoza 7/6
Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team 8/5
39 Challenge 9/4
China Team 11/2
Victory Challenge 12/1
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