Getting wet and shorter afloat isn't always the best way to see Cup racing
One of the advantages of having twelve teams racing and twelve races a day is that at some stage, somewhere there will always be some action to watch, stories to tell and issues to debate. The trick is making sure you’re in the right place to catch the action when it happens.
You might think a RIB with 300hp on the back would be the best deal, but when the breeze pipes up and spices up the action, getting between two course areas 7 miles apart is not a quick or simple affair. Do it too often and you’ll be a few millimetres shorter by the end of the week.
Instead, a hint to the answer lies with the thousands of people that have flocked down to the new America’s Cup park that has sprung from the dusty wastes around the Darsena harbour. During the racing the main arena, with its giant screen on which live video footage and live audio commentary is beamed, has drawn the crowds every day. Kitted out with trendy armchairs, tables and stools, the arena has proved a big hit with the experts too who frequently stroll down to the park to get a better view, a beer, a sandwich and the odd game of radio controlled model yachting to while away the time between the rounds.
So what did they see today?
Action and plenty of it. In brief, the Kiwis got locked into a battle with the Swedes that was very close. Iain Percy’s 39 team pulled off another victory that was very good, while K-Challenge got caught up in a pre-start that was very dramatic and Shosholoza saw their hopes of a point on the board evaporate by a margin of just 6 seconds to leave them feeling very depressed.
In more detail, the match between the Kiwis and the Swedish Victory Challenge should have been an easy(ish) win for the New Zealand team and yet the Swedes demonstrated that they were not up for being dismissed and hung onto the team that has yet to lose a race this season. With a final delta of 24 seconds, this was a clear demonstration of how close the racing has become across the fleet.
The 39 team may have come off the line slightly bruised after their encounter with K-Challenge but at the windward mark Iain Percy executed a text-book demonstration of how a port layline boat can gain the advantage when head to head with a starboard tacker. At first he bore away to dip the French boat’s stern, but K-Challenge’s skipper Thierry Peponnet executed a slow tack (to get them onto port) and then tried to luff Percy and his men in orange. A good plan you may think, but with too little momentum to finish the job off, the French boat stopped while Percy rolled over the French bow, bore away and round the mark ahead.
The move defined the race and 39 scored another point.
Miffed at losing that race, K-Challenge were flustered and determined not to lose another in their second race of the day against the Swedes. But it wasn’t that simple.
K-Challenge got themselves into a mess at the start, incurred a penalty and ended up well over the line when the gun went. A perfect start for the Swedes, if that is, they too hadn’t mis-judged the distance to the line and found themselves 30cm OCS when the gun went. Both boats scrambled back behind the line, the French getting away ahead and then went on to extend their lead sufficiently to off load their penalty at the end.
Meanwhile, the South Africans appeared to have put a number of their technical difficulties behind them and led the Germans around the course to score what should have been their first win. But on each of the downwind legs the Germans ground them down and the South African’s last gybe into the finish was a poor one and allowed the United Internet Team of Germany to win by 6 seconds.
All in all, a good day to be watching telly, so long as it was in the Darsena Harbour.
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