A shifty breeze took everyone by surprise, along with some of the matches. Matthew Sheahan reports
How many times should we be surprised at the performance of some of the so called underdogs? Was it luck that put Shosholoza in front of BMW Oracle? Hardly, this was the second time we’ve seen the South Africans lead the American team around the course – the first being in Round Robin 1.
Tight, professional work by Shosholoza up the first beat saw the South Africans round the weather mark 7 seconds ahead, but so close was the match that they were forced out wide during the rounding, a move that allowed BMW Oracle to slide inside. These particular big boys only need the slightest edge to allow them to prise out a commanding lead, but the South Africans were having none of it. By the bottom mark they squeaked through the gate with a lead of just 2 seconds. And that was the last they saw of single figure deltas in their favour after Dickson and his team smoked around the second lap to take the race by 43 seconds.
In the second flight of the day, (two because of Tuesday’s postponements), the American’s were given another hard time, this time by the Swedes who fought a closely matched battle that went all the way to the wire.
At the first weather mark rounding, both teams were approaching head to head and a rare but classic match race duel began as the pair went into a dial down manoeuvre, instigated by the starboard Swedes who came out on top by 13 seconds.
By the leeward mark the Swedes had stretched their lead to 17 seconds as the upwind battle began once again. In a near repeat of the first leg the pair put in 18 tacks, the first beat saw 17. As they approached the weather mark on opposite tacks once again the classic port and starboard dial down manoeuvre, that can often see the port boat taking the advantage, started to take shape. Which is precisely how the scenario played out, in text book fashion.
With the starboard tack Swedes forced out beyond the layline before they could tack, Dickson used his boat’s momentum to slip around the mark and then prepare for the luff when the Swedes arrived. After squeezing them up, the killer punch saw the Swedes have to tack away to clear themselves from the Americans. Not a good look and yet even after such an effective fending off, the Swedes were still in the match.
But on the long, light weather run to the finish Dickson’s team managed to eek out a slim lead to take the race by 14 seconds.
Elsewhere on the race course the match between Shosholoza and Luna Rossa was another close one, although the Italians were clearly in no mood for a loss and took their two points.
But perhaps the most gratifying win of the day for another team that put points on the board was for Mascalzone Latino who, after their recent string of defeats and rules issues, managed to fight off the Spanish. This was a close and crucial match. Both teams have their eyes on a place in the semi finals and with Luna Rossa’s continued top drawer performance, it looks increasingly likely that there will only be one place available in the next phase of the event. At the moment it’s the Spanish team’s run of successes that gives them the upper hand, but Vincento Onorato’s recent change to the on board line up seems to have got the team back up to strength. The battle is back on.
By the way, yesterday was a bank holiday in Spain and saw another huge flood of people enter the park. The number of visitors that have passed through the turnstiles of the America’s Cup park has now passed 1 million in one month. Not bad for an elitist sport that will never work for spectators!
WHO BEAT WHO?
Desafio Espanol BEAT Areva
Emirates Team New Zealand BEAT 39
Luna Rossa BEAT United Internet Team Germany
Victory Challenge BEAT China Team
BMW Oracle BEAT Shosholoza
Mascalzone Latino BEAT Desafio Espanol
Emirates Team New Zealand BEAT Areva
United Internet Team Germany BEAT China Team
Luna Rossa BEAT Shosholoza
BMW Oracle BEAT Victory Challenge
HOW TO WATCH, LISTEN AND FOLLOW THE ACTION
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ASHORE & AFLOAT
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