Inside out on the opening day of America's Cup Louis Vuitton Act 13 3/4/07
With three months of racing to go, there would be no point in pushing things too hard on the first day now would there? So why was Alinghi caught OCS at the start of the first race, boxed out by the rest of the fleet. Not something you see often, had nerves got the better of them?
With all due respect to the talented sailors aboard 39, it’s not often that you see this team leading the fleet around the weather mark either and certainly not for the majority of the race. What made their performance all the more impressive was that the new rig only went sailing for the first time on the evening before the race and that was in the pitch dark. By late morning the team had been out again, desperately trying to sort things out but had come back to the dock before the start with yet more problems. Making the start was a miracle in itself.
To be fair, tactician Ian Walker played a blinder on the first beat, spotting more breeze and a right hand shift which they headed for and quickly stole a march on the rest of the fleet that had gone left. All that is bar Alinghi who saw the same features in the sky.
Percy’s team continued to lead the fleet around the race course until the last run when they were dumped by the breeze on the right and watched nine boats in the fleet sail past them on the left.
From zero to hero and nearly back to zero, all in 90 minutes.
Once ashore, Percy remained relaxed about their showing.
“We really aren’t bothered about the result today, what’s important is that we try to get the speed out of the boat, develop the equipment and prove that we’ve got some potential,” he said.
“We did think we were living a bit of a fairy tale story when we just made it by the skin of our teeth to be leading around the first weather mark. It’s really nice for everyone. To be leading and then get it wrong when the wind went funny, it’s really not an issue for us. Instead we got there and we showed that we got there and will be racing which in a month or so is what’s going to matter.”
For BMW Oracle to go on to win the race was a bonus in the bag.
But it was the weather that had the biggest laugh today, as it darted around the race course and refused to settle down sufficiently for the race committee to run the second race.
One down, three months to go.