America's Cup experts but newcomers to the new format, Luna Rossa stole the show today in the opening race of Act 2

 After a fireworks party on the scale of a Mount Etna eruption, Act 2 got under way in Valencia. Top story today was of Luna Rossa, formerly known as Prada, who with James Spithill at the helm, caused the biggest upset in the first race by beating BMW Oracle. This was no mean feat given, on the one hand, the American team’s dominance this season and on the other, the fact that this was the Italian team’s first race since the Louis Vuitton Cup in Auckland.

Spithill, whose last America’s Cup job was with the American One World syndicate was clearly not going to be intimidated by the event favourites and pulled off an impressive first start and then headed for what became the favoured side of the course to lead at the top mark. After that, the team never looked like handing their advantage back and didn’t, winning the race by 58 seconds.

Lucky break or sharp sailing? Tomorrow’s pairing (Wednesday) sees them up against Team New Zealand in equally, if not more, fluky conditions.

While on the subject of the Kiwis, the second flight of the day promises to be the biggest clash of Finn sailors ever seen outside the dinghy fleet itself with the likes of Dean Barker, Ben Ainslie and Kevin Hall aboard the NZL-81, facing up to Iain Percy, Rafael Trujillo, Andrew Simpson and Xavier Rohart aboard the Italian machine.

The Kiwis may have the upper hand when it comes to hours on the water, but with light and shifty winds a distinct possibility for the day, it would be a brave man to place a serious bet on the outcome.

And still on the subject of the New Zealand team, today’s opening match of Act 2 was particularly exciting from a personal point of view as I rode the back of the Kiwi boat as 18th man, commentating live on the racing in an experiment to bring live audio commentary ashore and onto the web. We hope to be able to bring some edited excerpts of this later.

Even in 10 knots of breeze the ride was as intoxicating as ever and with little signs of the struggle that the team had endured to get this, their spare boat, from Auckland to the start line in less than three weeks.

The outing was significant for the team too, with Ainslie stepping aboard for the first time in his role as strategist. The back end of this boat has some serious experience with Terry Hutchinson as tactician, Dean Barker as skipper, Kevin Hall as navigator and Grant Dalton in a seemingly humble position on runners and kite packing. Yet few apart from Dalts himself would dismiss his role so lightly, simply his presence and experience aboard the boat adds to the strength and stability of this team.

RESULTS: Flight 1

Match 1 ITA 74 beat USA 71 delta 0:58

Match 2 SUI 64 beat ITA 59 delta 1:48

Match 3 FRA 57 beat FRA 69 delta 1:45

Match 4 NZL 81 beat RSA 48 delta 2:57

Flight 2

Match 1 FRA 69 beat RSA 48 delta 0:39

Match 2 SUI 64 beat ITA 74 delta 0:25

Match 3 USA 71 beat ITA 59 delta 2:18

Match 4 NZL 81 beat FRA 57 delta 1:53


Team Name: Matches Won / Sailed (Points)

Team Alinghi 2/ 2 (2)

Emirates Team New Zealand 2/ 2 (2)

BMW ORACLE Racing 1/ 2 (1)

Luna Rossa 1/ 2 (1)

K-Challenge 1/ 2 (1)

LE DEFI 1/ 2 (1)

39 0/ 2 (0)

Team Shosholoza 0/ 2 (0)