Act 4 of the 32nd America's Cup kicked off today with 12 teams and two flights of match racing
With more countries than the America’s Cup Challenger series has ever seen, the immediate focus for the opening days of Act 4 and 5 will undoubtedly be on the newcomers and the smaller teams. Among them two emerged from a day’s racing with a point on the score board that they hadn’t expected. For the United Internet Team from Germany, a win over the French K-Challenge was a bigger success than they could ever have imagined.
To add to the feelings of success, today was the first time that a German team had ever taken part in an America’s Cup race and to win the second of their races after just seven days afloat was clearly a huge boost to the team.
“We never anticipated a win in Act 4 or 5 but now we want more,” said skipper Jesper Bank. “Onshore the team celebrated like we had just won the event. It was a good kick-start for our campaign.”
Interestingly, the Spanish team Desafio Espanol were also celebrating an early point, winning their match against the Bank and his team in the race before the German victory.
Ian Percy’s 39 team appear to have put some of the demons behind them from last season (where boat handling was their biggest issue) and scored a point against the South African Team Shosholoza.
Unfortunately, the South African’s appear to have taken a few big steps backwards since learning so much last season. As the first team to build a version 5 boat they appeared to have their plan under control.
It’s one thing having a brand new version 5 boat to play with, but it’s of little use without a rig. Despite having built a new version 5 mast to go with the new boat, the spar wouldn’t fit and was so far out that it had to be condemned shortly before the event started.
“Having built a V5 rig we put it up and it didn’t fit so we had to condemn it and buy an old one from Alinghi,” explained Geoff Meek, Team Shosholoza’s skipper. “It’s much softer than our new rig was planned to be so we had to add on 250mm of luff curve to the mainsail last night and the genoas had to be altered as well.”
The last minute call meant that the team had only been out for one hour before the start today and the lack of practice showed. Unfortunately the problems don’t end there as Meek explained.
“The result is that there are a lot of problems with our sail programme now which has suffered a massive setback because the current mast is so soft.”
Today’s conditions would have struggled to snuff a candle at times, but in America’s Cup racing, there are moments when even that’s still enough to cause problems.
Elsewhere the bigger teams scored predictable wins with Emirates Team New Zealand, Alinghi, Luna Rossa and BMW Oracle pinning two wins each.