Just as you think you know the score…..
As Iain Percy’s 39 team approached the weather mark there were few surprises that they were trailing BMW Oracle, but at least they were in touch. All was well in a race that was only going to go one way. Seconds later and before the boat had even passed the mark, two 39 crewmembers were in the water as the kite streamed out of its bag plucking the pair off the foredeck in the process.
Sometimes the transition between control and chaos happens in the blink of an eye.
Unable to turn back for the crew, Percy’s team ditched the kite for the support boat to collect, while their crewmembers swam to the umpire’s boat that then transferred them back onto their boat, issuing the standard penalty in the process.
This was just one of several dramas in the afternoon’s racing, each of which highlighted just how quickly things can turn to rats in AC racing as well as reminding the big boys that they’re also far from immune to such hiccups.
The Kiwis, aboard Emirates Team New Zealand, had a wake up call at the leeward mark when the topping lift fitting on the outboard end of the pole came away just as they were performing their kite drop. The pole plunged into the water where it was swept back and broke around the lowers like a cocktail stick. But this was the least of their problems. By ditching the pole in the drink the kite was perfectly draped over the bow like an arrester wire on an aircraft carrier, ready to trip the 25 tonne yacht up – which it did.
Fortunately the crew were quick to see the issue and cut the spinnaker guy in an effort to leave the kite to leeward and prevent it getting wrapped around the keel and possibly the rudder.
In seconds, the normally slick Kiwis went from good looking to good grief as they lay dead in the water, their Chinese opponents marching up behind at a pace. But the Kiwis regained their composure just in time and thanks to a poor tack by China Team, managed to hold the red boat off.
Another big boat to trip up was BMW Oracle at the weather mark when, after what looked like another silky smooth kite hoist the outboard end of the pole broke a nanosecond before the inboard end gave way too, leaving the 30ft spinnaker pole to cartwheel through the air as is flicked like a cigarette butt off the boat. Fortunately no-one was in the way at the time, but the drama was another reminder as to the loads involved and how close to the accident you can be anywhere on the boat.
Elsewhere on the race course, the German United Internet Team lost their spinnaker pole, Shosholoza broke a checkstay, lost their masthead instruments and notched up a list of other minor breakages. Meanwhile, Mascalzone Latino blew the clew out of their mainsail in the first race and the headboard of their replacement main in the second, leaving them with two retirements and no points on the board.
Aside from the drama, the irony was that most of this action happened later in the afternoon in 30 minute burst of activity, just as we were commentating on the prospect of a list of rather unsurprising and predictable results and wondering if the opening day of Act 6 in Malmo had been a little tame!
And the results? Probably as you would have expected, but the action was terrific.
Alinghi beat Victory Challenge
BMW Oracle beat Shosholoza
K-Challenge beat 39
Emirates Team New Zealand beat United Internet Challenge Germany
Desafio Espanol beat Mascalzone Latino Capitalia
Luna Rossa beat China Team
Alinghi beat Shosholoza
Victory Challenge beat K-Challenge
BMW Oracle beat 39
Desafio Espanol beat United Internet Challenge Germany
Luna Rossa beat Mascalzone Latino Capitalia
Emirates Team New Zealand beat China Team
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