Matthew Sheahan looks at the state of play half way through Louis Vuitton Act 10
Yesterday Mascalzone Latino nearly managed it, today Luna Rossa did, and convincingly. It’s not often you see zeros on the Alinghi scoreline, but today they were forced to include one thanks to a well deserved victory by Luna Rossa.
Capitalising on an error made by the Swiss team in the pre-start when Alinghi was a little slow in tacking away from the dial up was all it took to hand Luna Rossa skipper James Spithill sufficient margin to take the upper hand. By the time the start gun had fired, Spithill had manoeuvred the brand new Italian boat into a commanding position. The second windward leg saw the Italian team lose much of its advantage, but a luffing match at the weather mark where Alinghi was forced beyond the starboard lay line saw Luna Rossa maintain its lead to the finish.
This is a very important win for the Italians who were under attack by their home press corps on Friday night after a disastrous day when they lost to the Spanish.
Alinghi on the other hand will play down the loss, having already set the scene by claiming that if the new boats don’t beat them then there’s something wrong. That’s fine if you’re talking about gains made through raw boat speed, but this loss was down to tactical and handling errors and will no doubt be discussed in private far more than the Swiss will let on.
Among the other matches of the day, Shosholoza will be delighted at their back to back victories against Areva (ex K-Challenge) and the Spanish, both of which were significant and well deserved wins.
On the other hand, those doing some navel gazing will be the Chinese, Mascalzone Latino, Areva and perhaps Emirates Team New Zealand. Its boat has attracted much comment so far, mainly for it’s good looks and the sense that this could be a well balanced boat. And yet today a number of niggling problems including a blown out kite when the leech was caught on the jumpers in a gybe and the headsail peeling out of the foil will raise concerns once again that there might still be reliability issues.
Aboard the same boat, Ben Ainslie took the wheel in the second match and scored his first Louis Vuitton victory, albeit against a totally outclassed China team. The swap of helmsmen from Barker to Ainslie had been planned for some time and announced well before the day’s racing started, which was just as well given the Kiwis loss to BMW Oracle in the first match of the day. Had the team not have announced this crew change well in advance there might have been some hasty and ill-judged conclusions drawn.
But team of the day is clearly BMW Oracle who kept their perfect scoreline, unbeaten in all their matches, the only ones to have achieved this. Before the event had even started skipper Chris Dickson made no bones of the fact that he believed that USA-87 was the most innovative Americas Cup boat of this class to have been built.
At present she certainly has the best record.
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