Act 10 kicks off and Matthew Sheahan looks at the new tackle afloat

 The main focus of attention on the opening day of Act 10 may well have been on the three new boats that headed out for their first official race, but the pairings for the day hardly challenged the big boys and their new toys.

Luna Rossa in ITA-86 made mincemeat of the China Team and Mascalzone Latino, the Kiwis aboard NZL-84 took the Germans and Shosholoza to pieces and BMW Oracle had little difficulty in despatching the South Africans and the Swedes. Little could really be gleaned from their performances.

But the big boys weren’t the only ones unwrapping new kit this morning. Mascalzone Latino Capitalia team revealed a sexy new carbon lattice boom, a spar that looks more like an elaborate hi-tech scaffold than the more usual box section. In fact, the boom appears to be little different in its construction to several others, it’s just that the team has chosen to clad the structure in a see through material. How very Italian.

The China Team was sporting a huge fat head mainsail with a head so wide that the sail is almost rectangular. On the downwind legs the team cracked open some brand new and very good looking spinnakers.

Others like the Spanish have chosen to invest in staysails, the new ‘must have’ in an America’s Cup sail plan. The Spanish sail was particularly interesting with its large vertical windows in the luff, presumably to allow the kite trimmers to see through the new headsail.

Ironically it was Alinghi that looked to be setting the oldest sails in the fleet even though SUI-75 sports a new paint job on its hull and mainsail. The jumperless rig that the team had been practicing with was no longer in the boat either. This was also the case with BMW Oracle Racing.

Even though we’re only one day into Act 10, there is a sense that Alinghi will enjoy this Act more than any before as their main competitors are forced to prove themselves against each other before squaring up to SUI-65, a boat that was designed in 2002.

“We know it’s going to be difficult to race against the new boats,” said Alinghi’s Jordi Calafat. “Common sense says that with new boats and strong teams, they should be faster than us, if they’re not there’s something wrong with them.”

Of the racing itself, those on the South course were impressed with the Kiwi boat while on the North course it was the match between Iain Percy’s cash strapped 39 against the Desafio Espanol that provided the closest match of the day, especially after the Spanish were struck with a double penalty after colliding with 39 at the start in a text book example of barging at the committee boat end.

There are some situations that new toys won’t help.