But Champagne moment for Luna Rossa
The Swedish Victory Challenge has been disqualified from yesterday’s second race and loses 12 points. The outcome drops them from first to sixth, a disaster for the team that has impressed in both of the Acts. The measurement committee found that, ‘the compartments in question on SWE63 are not fitted with limber holes, nor at the time of inspection were they sealed.’
The statement goes on to say that, ‘As such these compartments, as found, were not in compliance with the second sentence of rule 36.12.’
All of which begs the question as to whether the boat actually measures under the new rule. Having said that, there are plenty who were standing up for the Swedes, not least Jesper Bank, the team’s previous skipper in the last Cup.
“I know the guys well enough that they would never even consider doing anything that infringes the rules,’ he said shortly after hearing the news. “So I think they’ve been caught with their pants down here on an unlucky day.”
“It is very easy to get caught out by complex rules and they probably haven’t even got the slightest clue that there was any problem at all. I would also question whether it [water below decks] would give them any benefit.”
Others seemed more clear-cut on the decision. Although still sympathetic to the predicament that the Swedes were in, Alinghi helmsman Peter Holmberg was clear on how rules should be interpreted.
“I think there’s little doubt that someone made a mistake in their team and violated the rule. A rule’s a rule and the police will give you a ticket,” he said. “A line’s a line, it’s black or white, it’s not brown.”
After he had had time to reel from the blow, Victory Challenge’s helmsman Magnus Holmberg was pragmatic about the decision.
“In the end we have had a fantastic week and we have performed so well. That is really so important because we are really trying hard for 2007,” he said. “We had fantastic boat speed out there, great tactics, good starts and that isn’t anything you can buy with money. Legal advice is something you can buy with money. That is the conclusion from this whole thing. I would be a lot more worried and frustrating if we had had bad boat speed or we were struggling with the tactics because I know our team was sailing the best of all the teams out there and we beat them all out there.”
But one team’s disaster resulted in another team’s success as Luna Rossa were crowned victors of Act 5. Their success had been by the narrowest of margins, just one second separated the Italian team from Alinghi at the finish.
In sliding over the line with their nose ahead, Luna Rossa had won the fleet racing, but according to some, especially the other big teams, fleet racing was not where it was at.
“Fleet racing is a different cup of tea especially in light air so let’s be careful not to draw too many conclusions,” said Peter Holmberg.
But to Luna Rossa’s skipper Francesco de Angelis, the victory was a far simpler affair.
“I don’t have a preference whether it’s match racing or fleet racing, my preference is for winning.”
Something this team hasn’t done in a while and, while this isn’t the Cup proper, as Terry Hutchinson from Emirates Team New Zealand said earlier in the week, ‘Winning is a good habit to get into.’
Meanwhile as the sun sets, the crowds parading the America’s Cup park are still here in their thousands. Tinglado 2, where the main entertainment features are, has been packed once again with an audience that went wild at the Luna Rossa prize giving. Those that weren’t too bothered about who won were racing radio controlled yachts, drinking beer, playing life sized chess, trying on T-shirts, racing slot cars or simply chilling out. Many had followed the races on the giant live screen, others had listened to the radio and thousands had flocked out onto the water to see the action for real.
The new style of Cup racing has engaged the Spanish and already proved to be a huge success. Next stop is Malmo in Sweden with the Cup back on tour. With the Swedish team still massaging their pride, their striking performance on the water will bring them plenty of attention when they play closer to home.
ACT 5 – LEADERBOARD
1st Luna Rossa
3rd Emirates Team New Zealand
4th BMW Oracle Racing
5th Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team
6th Victory Challenge
8th Desafio Espanol
10th United Internet Team Germany
11th China Team
12th Team Shosholoza