Another team loses sight of the semi final after a six second defeat. Matthew Sheahan reports
While Saturday’s race between the Spanish and Mascalzone Latino put the home team further ahead and made them favourites for the fourth slot in the semi finals, today’s race between the Italians and Shosholoza killed any hope that the Italians could make the next phase of the Cup.
After a long struggle that included several own goals, Vincento Onorato’s Cup hopes came to an end as the team was beaten to the line by the South Africans with a margin of less than half a boat length. The match had been a tough one from the start, with the South Africans planting a penalty on the Italians in the pre-start.
The match was a hard fought battle up the first beat with Mascalzone Latino rounding the weather mark ahead by just 8 seconds. By the bottom mark they had squeezed their lead to 18 seconds and by the second top mark their advantage had increased by gnat’s hair to 20 seconds. In most other matches this would be a narrow lead but sufficient to hold the lead to the finish but the Italians still had to unload their penalty.
Lining themselves up for a pin end penalty clearing finish, the manoeuvre always looked like it would be tight, but initially at least the Italians looked to have things under control. The kite came down cleanly, the bow rounded up sweetly as the South Africans barrelled down towards the line. An Italian victory looked more likely. But as their bow went through the breeze, helmsman Cameron Dunn seemed to have trouble bearing away, the hesitation just enough to allow the South African’s to slip through and take the win.
Team Shosholoza were elated, Mascalzone Latino gutted.
The chances are that the latin rascals, would not have survived their remaining race against BMW Oracle and Luna Rossa and that this loss simply gets the agony over early.
The South African’s hopes of reaching the semis evaporated a few days ago but this team is still on fire, ecstatic about putting a couple more points on the board.
We’ve been at this for a long time and we are extremely proud of what we have achieved, ” said crew man Ian Ainslie.
“Our expectations went up a bit over the last few months and even though we have ten wins, we still think we could have done better. We lost a lot of close races, but improving that comes with experience and we’ll get there.”
Ainslie was unable to confirm whether there are any firm plans as to what happens next when, in a few days time the South African campaign for the 32nd America’s Cup will come to an end. But syndicate head Captain Salvatore Sarno, appears to have a clearer view of the future for the team, albeit with certain caveats.
“Most probably Defender Alinghi will win again and if they do, it is not final, but 99 percent sure, that the next Cup will be in Valencia,” he said in a team press release. “If this is the case I hope that we will be able to launch RSA 101 by February next year and have it ready for the first Acts in May. My plan is that we have a two boat programme.”
One way to finish on a high.
WHO BEAT WHO?
Desafio Espanol BEAT United Internet Team Germany
Shosholoza BEAT Mascalzone Latino
Emirates Team New Zealand BEAT China Team
Victory Challenge BEAT Areva
BMW Oracle Racing BEAT 39
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