Spanish steal an action packed show in Valencia

 If the opening two days were a soft boot for some of the top teams with matches that were a walk in the park, today was a hard reset for the big guns. Kicking off the day’s proceedings, the Kiwis were up against the Italian Luna Rossa team who showed last year that with James Spithill at the helm and a more stable team structure behind them, the stylish Italians were back in good form. A close match was promised and a close match was what we got with the lead changing during the short race but with the boat from down under taking the point at the finish.

Meanwhile, Alinghi were squaring up against BMW Oracle, the pairing that Larry Ellison and his team so desperately want to be the one everyone will talk about in 2007. But they’ll have to do better than they did today, close and exciting to watch, but in the end the Swiss won. This match may be two years out, but as one person in the team was rumoured to have said, losing to Alinghi is like losing three nil.

Elsewhere, Mascalzone avoided another point-free day as well as the humiliation of being beaten by their old boat 72, now sailed by the German United Internet Team. Instead the Italians managed to put their first point on the scoreboard, much to their relief. Iain Percy also proved that his 39 team has learned a good deal in the last few months and moved up the table after their win over the China Team, ex-Le Defi.

But, thrilling though the racing was today, for me the team of the day today was Desafio Espanol, who put another two points on the board to put them in 5th overall at present. Admittedly they’ve had a few softer targets so far and the pressure comes on tomorrow (Sun) when they meet some big guns, but for a team that only came together quite recently, they’re making a big impression here in Valencia, particularly with the locals who flocked out onto the water to show their support.

Some shrewd shopping has played a big part in their success so far. Buying the ex One World boats, which were considered to be among the best paired of the last Cup, was a good start but getting hold of Alinghi’s second boat to find out what the current Cup holders were thinking when they put together their campaign must surely be a master stroke. The home team also has an impressive and varied list of talented sailors aboard. The results show, but tomorrow is another, tougher day.

****** LIVE AUDIO & RESULTS******

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