Emirates Team New Zealand take a second win in race three, but only just. Matthew Sheahan reports
In light and shifty conditions where the breeze never reached double figures, the Kiwis fought hard to keep the right hand side of the start to stay in phase with an oscillating breeze. Once again, Barker and his crew dominated the start until the last few seconds when Alinghi helmsman Ed Baird forced the Kiwis to tack away onto port with just 10 seconds to go to the start.
Alinghi took the left hand end of the line at speed, the Kiwis took the right but were slow.
A few minutes later the Kiwis were looking good as they sailed into a right hand shift, tacked onto starboard and sailed away from the Swiss who were pinned out on the left hand side of the course.
By the weather mark Emirates Team New Zealand had pulled out more than a 300m lead to round the mark 1min 23 seconds ahead.
By the leeward mark Alinghi had hauled 21 seconds back on the Kiwis, an impressive performance, but the real drama was yet to come.
As the Kiwis came into the right hand leeward mark on port, ready to gybe over to the lay line for the left hand mark and a simple leeward take down, a shift in the breeze to the right meant that the Kiwis were trapped too close to the right hand mark, their bow well down and facing a last minute, manual take down and gybe.
With no time to prepare the manoeuvre and with the bowman falling overboard but hanging onto to the spinnaker pole fore guy, the move went pear shaped with the spinnaker draping over the genoa sheets and cockpit as they rounded the mark. The drop caused chaos and lost the Kiwis the remaining 200m advantage.
By the top mark, and despite attempting to fend off Alinghi with a lee bow manoeuvre followed a few minutes later by a dial down in the final approach to the mark, Alinghi took the lead and rounded the mark 60m ahead of the Kiwis.
The chances of the Kiwis recovering their lead looked remote, until that is Alinghi allowed their opponents to gybe away and gain a big separation, more than1000m laterally. It was to cost them dear.
By the bottom of the downwind leg and by now late in the day, the Kiwis had locked into the left hand shift that is so typical of the end of a sea breeze day in Valencia. Their bow came down and they re-took the lead, putting in a high pressure gybe just metres from the finish to take the comeback of the Cup.
Full story, comment and analysis to follow shortly
RESULTS AFTER DAY 3
Alinghi – 1
Emirates Team New Zealand – 2
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