Has the Louis Vuitton Cup semi final group been decided? Matthew Sheahan thinks so

 On a day when the pairings suggested more mis-matches than great matches, the race everyone wanted to see was the one that counted for the most. The re-match between the Spanish and Mascalzone Latino following the successful protest by Desafio Espanol after the Italians team had been found guilty of using it’s top mast backstays illegally.

As the points board takes shape, the battle for the middle ground has been the most widely debated around the America’s Cup Park. Here, the Spanish and Italians looked most likely to be slogging it out for the last available slot in the Louis Vuitton semi finals. Naturally, in an event that can occasionally see disputes off the water count for as much as wins on it, the final selection won’t be over until the end of the round on 9 May. But, with Desafio and Mascalzone Latino both winning their matches in flight seven earlier in the day and moving both teams further away from the Swedes on the points board, the match was set up to be a real head to head.

The pre-start tussle was a quieter affair than you might have expected with no serious engagement. But, despite a late attempt from the Spanish to lock Mascalzone Latino out to the right of the committee boat, the Spanish were simply too far to leeward to really get a hold of their opponents. As the gun went it was Mascalzone Latino that was to the right and sailing slightly higher off the line leaving the Spanish to try to break free from beneath.

By the weather mark, despite having struggled to break free, the Spanish trailed the Italians by 12 seconds. But as the boats tracked out to the right of the course the Spanish appeared to be able to drive deeper and quicker than their opponents.

When Mascalzone Latino gybed over onto starboard, the Spanish were right on the case and covered, a position from which they were able to edge forward onto the Italians’ breeze. Having rolled Mascalzone Latino, the Spanish then proceeded to drop down onto their line. By the leeward mark round the Spanish had pulled out a 22 second lead.

By the next weather mark this had extended to 37 seconds from where Desafio Espanol cruised to a victory.

The win puts the Spanish in very good shape for the semi finals, seven points ahead of Mascalzone Latino. Of the four remaining matches that the pair have to race, the Italians would have to win all of theirs, including matches against BMW Oracle and Luna Rossa, while the Spanish would have to lose all of theirs.

The result would appear to end months of speculation as to who will take the fourth place.


Flight 7
Mascalzone Latino BEAT China Team
Desafio Espanol BEAT Shosholoza
Emirates Team New Zealand BEAT United Internet Team Germany
BMW Oracle BEAT Areva
Luna Rossa BEAT 39

Flight 4 – Re-match
Desafio Espanol BEAT Mascalzone Latino


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