A better position on the second beat allowed the Swiss Alinghi team to take a lead which they never relinquished
GBR Challenge’s fourth race at the Louis Vuitton Cup saw a victory for the Swiss Alinghi syndicate in light and shifty conditions on the Hauraki Gulf today.
Although GBR Challenge initially found better pressure on the right-hand side of the course on the second beat and establish a lead, a new breeze came from the left and the Swiss team were better positioned, picked up more pressure and took a two-minute lead. GBR Challenge fought back and closed the lead at the second leeward mark to 43 seconds but Alinghi extended on the final beat to forge an unassailable lead.
After a close start in a 10 knot south-easterly, Wight Lightning and Alinghi started together with the British boat at the pin end and Coutts’ boat in the middle of the line. The first beat was a competitive drag race, with GBR 70 showing good speed. The British team was unable to get far enough ahead on the leading starboard tack to cross ahead of Alinghi and Coutts sailed both boats above the layline. Alinghi tacked first, and their inside position allowed the Swiss team to take a 21 second lead around the mark.
Alinghi performed a gybe set, while the British team bore away as they hoisted their kite and then gybed. As the breeze continued to clock around, the move cost GBR Challenge as Alinghi were able to reach straight to the leeward mark. Down the second half of the beat Wight Lightning found some better pressure in the middle of the course and cut down Coutts’ lead.
As the boats rounded the leeward mark, GBR 70 immediately tacked onto port, with Alinghi reacting to cover the British team. However, GBR Challenge found better pressure and established a strong lead over Alinghi, with the Swiss team stuck in a hole. SUI 64 tacked over to move to the left-hand side of the course, a move that paid handsomely as the new breeze reached them first.
The breeze continued to swing around to the left, and both boats reached into the mark, with Wight Lightning cutting down the Swiss boat’s lead. On the following run, the British comeback continued, as Harrison’s men cut the deficit by a further 45 seconds.
The final beat saw Coutts use his experience to establish control. He continually covered the British team, tacking on top of GBR 70 to increase his lead. On the final run, GBR Challenge tried a final throw of the dice by splitting to the right-hand side of the course but the move made no impression on SUI64. Once Coutts’ team crossed the line, GBR 70 dropped their asymmetric in order, which gave the victory more of a lopsided appearance than was reality.
At the start GBR 70 led by 1 second
At the 1st Windward mark, SUI 64 led by 21 seconds
At the 1st Leeward mark, SUI 64 led by 1.02
At the 2nd Windward mark, SUI 64 led by 1.28
At the 2nd Leeward mark, SUI 64 led by 43 seconds
At the 3rd Windward mark, SUI 64 led by 1.49
At the finish, SUI 64 won by 4.33