Alinghi wins Act 11 Matthew Sheahan reports
The three super-powers in the Challengers camp for the 32nd America’s Cup lost to a boat designed in 2002 owned by the team that holds the Cup. In the three day fleet racing series of Act 11, Alinghi made winning look easy and left three brand new boats to scrap for the positions for the also-rans. On the face of it an embarrassment to the trio who want more than anything else to prise the Cup off Alinghi come 2007. Or was it?
SUI-75 may be a boat designed four years ago but she, like many others in the fleet, has been modified extensively since her original launching. And while there have been changes to the rule to form version 5, there are plenty of other modified boats that suggest that the changes may not have been that great after all.
Mascalzone Latino were consistently up there in the chocolates during the fleet racing with a boat designed at around the same time. So long as the breeze didn’t drop below 10 knots, 39, the oldest boat in the fleet, could mix it with the big boys as well. All of which helps further the view that perhaps the new boats aren’t really that much quicker.
Take the argument one step further and it’s easy to make a case that while everyone expects Alinghi, who are widely believed to have been half a generation ahead for years, to simply step up yet another generation and lead by a decent margin once again. That’s all very well, but what if their heads are already bumped up against the ceiling? What if the rule has become so tight and the boats so refined that there’s nowhere to go?
Of course that’s not Chris Dickson ‘s view, his comments about the team’s radical boat make it clear that he believes that there’s plenty more golf in the hole so to speak. A radical boat that will accelerate like a multihull and turn like a figure skater suggests that there is more to be learned. Their jumper-less rig was aboard USA-87 for the fleet racing Act and while it would be difficult to attribute their poorer showing in this Act than the previous one to the rig, something was clearly up in the fleet racing for them to prise out a fourth overall.
But America’s Cup racing would be nowhere without conspiracy theories and surely this Act will end with the most obvious. None of the big three wanted to be in front of Alinghi. When it comes to the big boys, fleet racing benefits Alinghi more than anyone else, leaving little reason for the Kiwis and the rest to show their hands, even when teased by Alinghi.
FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS ACT 11 (INDIVIDUAL RACE SCORES)
1 – Alinghi (6,1,1,3,1)
2 – Luna Rossa (10,2,11,3,1,4)
3 – Emirates Team New Zealand (4,7,2,11,5, 2)
4 – BMW Oracle (9,6,4,2,3)
5 – Mascalzone Latino (2,10,5,4,5)
6 – Shosholoza (5,5,6,8,8)
7 – Areva Challenge (7,4,8,7,7)
8 – Plus39 (3,12,7,6,6)
9 – Desafio Espanol (8,3,10,9,9)
10 – Victory Challenge (1,8,11,10,11)
11 – United Internet Team Germany (11,11,9,11,10)
12 – China Team (12,9,12,DNF,DNS)