End of the round robin sees groups emerge. Matthew Sheahan reports 28/6/06
New, improved and under control, the Kiwis started the week looking like a far more polished act than from where they left off a month or so ago. Today we had further confirmation that this was no fluke as the Kiwis dominated the racing once again.
To kick things off, the match that everyone wanted to watch was that between the Kiwis and Alinghi. Here, even among the experts opinion was split as to which team would gain the upper hand. Yet after five minutes of pre-start it was clear that the new more aggressive Dean Barker and his brains trust at the back of the boat had given Peter Holmberg and his team a hard time at the start.
Adding insult to injury the Kiwis were the first to spot and exploit a big shift on the left on a day when the weather chosen to stray from the script, big style. To switch tactics at such a crucial stage in the game demonstrated once again that the Kiwis have gained enormously in confidence and have worked up their boat to be a serious threat to any of the big boys. The result was more than a one minute lead at the weather mark. And while Alinghi managed to close the gap slightly by the end, a loss is a loss.
In the Kiwis second match Barker and Co. delivered a spanking to BMW Oracle at the start, despite being on the back foot in the early stages of the pre-start. Little changed throughout the rest of the race with the Kiwis notching up another win to leave them unbeaten so far in Act 12 and presenting them with the privilege of choosing their opponents for the semi finals.
If Alinghi were feeling sore after their defeat against the Kwiwis, worse was to come when James Spithill and team aboard Luna Rossa put a penalty on the Cup holders in the pre-start. Losing a match to a brand new boat is one thing when the loss can be explained through boat speed, but to suffer the loss in a pre-start punch up is a different matter and one that will no doubt spark some debate within the team.
Luna Rossa went on to win the race, just, thanks to the penalty but while this will be a good thing, there must surely still be questions hanging as to whether their new boat has enough pace or spark to beat the Swiss in a clean match. Without the penalty the result could have gone the other way.
Elsewhere in the battle of the basement, Team China would have showed signs of improvement had they not coped a penalty in the pre-start against United Internet Team Germany. Until this match, either team had scored a point during the entire Act. In the end, and after a closely fought battle for much of the race, the Germans scored the victory.
Shosholoza had a close match against Mascalzone Latino, the outcome of which looked set to dictate whether the South Africans would end up in group 2 or the bottom group. AS they lost to the Italians by a very narrow margin it must have looked like they were destined to be relegated, but unbeknown to them at the time, Plus 39 were about to lose to Areva which put Percy’s team in the bottom group instead of Shosholoza.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Sorted, seeded and completed, the round robin phase of Act 12 has been completed, so what happens next?
The twelve teams have been split into three groups depending on their rankings at the end of the round robin. The leader in each group chose who they race in a best of three competition. The remaining pair in each group race each other in the same way.
From here on, teams only race within their divisions, 1, 2 & 3.
The two winners in each group then go on to race each other in a final while the runners up in each group compete in a petit final. This produces a final ranking within each group and marks the end of Act 12.
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