Shaping up in the middle, Matthew Sheahan reports as the important rankings start to appear

 As the mighty BMW Oracle Racing team placed another confident win on the board in their match against Luna Rossa, and the Kiwis continued their perfect score line in this round robin by beating both their opponents of the day, the top of the table is becoming clearer by the day. To bet against BMW Oracle, Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa making the cut come the end of this round would be foolhardy.

At the bottom of the league the picture is also shaping up with China team, United Internet Team Germany, 39 and Areva all looking less likely by the day of being on the race course by this time next week. But when it comes to the struggle for that coveted fourth place, the battle of the bulge is hotting up with every match.

Embarrassed at having to admit yet another mistake, Vincento Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino team went out onto the water knowing that they had to win both of their matches today in order to keep pace with the Spanish team’s run of successes. Granted, neither races should have been particularly difficult for Onorato’s boys, but they have nonetheless made life difficult for themselves on and off the water in the past. As it turned out, putting themselves under pressure seemed to bring out the best in them with two convincing wins over 39 and United Internet Team Germany, both teams never getting a look in after the start.

Desafio Espanol, having succeeded in their protest against the Italians, a move that has resulted in a re-match, also needed to win both their races today in order to help eliminate the need for the extra race. But when it came to the match between the Kiwis and the Spanish the Kiwis’ performance was rock solid.

Tomorrow’s racing (Saturday) sees the re-match take place, a race that could move Spanish into a guaranteed semi final place, subject of course to the performance of the rest of the fleet. Foul ups on the race course and debates in the jury room can change an otherwise certain picture.

But the battle of the bulge isn’t just about these two, sandwiched in the middle is the Swedish Victory Challenge who have found form late on in this series and have prised a gap between the sparring pair and currently hold fifth place, just one point behind the Spanish. But there’s a catch. The Swedes have sailed six matches in Round Robin 2, the Italians and Spanish just four. The chances of the Swedish being a real contender for the special slot looks slim, unless of course we’re talking g light weather. Which is precisely what appears to be on offer for the next few days.

So what of the South Africans? Currently lying in seventh and trailing the fourth slot by 7 points, their chances of a place in the semi finals looks unlikely. And yet if there is one team out there that is still putting on a show every time they line up on the start line it’s Shosholoza. Today their match against the Kiwis was one of the closest of the day and certainly one worth watching.


Flight 5
Victory Challenge BEAT United Internet Team Germany
BMW Oracle BEAT Luna Rossa
Mascalzone Latino BEAT 39
Shosholoza BEAT China Team
Emirates Team New Zealand BEAT Desafio Espanol

Flight 6
Luna Rossa BEAT Areva
Mascalzone Latino BEAT United Internet Team Germany
Victory Challenge BEAT 39
Desafio Espanol BEAT China Team
Emirates Team New Zealand BEAT Shosholoza


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