…the kite hadn't streamed out, the rudder hadn't broken and the boom had stayed in one piece, things might have been different
On paper Alinghi has won Act 4 with a day to spare. An impressive performance against Emirates Team New Zealand today that suggested that the Swiss team has found the valuable X-Factor that had won them the Cup in Auckland.
But there’s a catch.
In the race between Luna Rossa and BMW Oracle, the Italians appeared to throw their chances of finishing better than fourth away as quickly as their kite streamed out of the boat after a poor drop at the leeward gate. A short while later, the incident took another twist as the Italians made a claim for redress.
As the sun set in Valencia on Monday evening and the head scratching began, it appeared that the Italians had claimed that they had had to avoid an umpire boat during a critical moment during the spinnaker takedown and this had been the catalyst that had caused their problems later.
The hearing is set for Tuesday morning which leaves Alinghi in a state of limbo and the champagne on ice. If Luna Rossa win the hearing and gain a re-match, and if they beat BMW Oracle, and if they go on to beat Alinghi, they would win Act 4.
In the meantime, Monday’s racing was conducted in breezes that got close to the top of the wind range for these boats was the other main talking point. There were breakages aplenty, as well as some incredibly close racing.
Iain Percy’s 39 team blew a kite out at the weather mark in their first race and then broke their rudder in spectacular fashion during the starting sequence leaving them drifting backwards 2 minutes before the start.
“We broke a batten before the start and were debating whether we should ask for a delay to our start but we thought we’d be OK,” he said shortly after stepping ashore. “We’d already broken a vang and then we broke the spare vang in the pre-start. Maybe that added to the pressure on the rudder when we were sailing because we had the mainsail on harder.
“We broke the rudder clean off, there’s a few splinters of carbon left that’s all. We got the circle in, which was the hard bit in that breeze and had got ourselves in a good position to gybe round and go for a timed start. In hindsight, who knows what might of happened afterwards, but if the rudder’s off the bottom of the boat you’re not going anywhere.”
The result left their opponents Mascalzone Capitalia with an easy point. Nevertheless, excuses aside Percy is clear about the task ahead.
“It was a Silver fleet final for us today and we firmly lost that through a fault of our own and some bad luck,” he said. “But we’re in Act 4 and this is not what it’s really about. What it is about, is how well we can perform and how good we can look on the water with very little training and very little experience.
“Having said that, we can’t keep banging on this drum that we sail well but do badly, there’s no excuses and it’s time for us to step up for the next Act. We had a chance against both our matches today and we’re very disappointed for the result, but the train keeps rolling on.”
The China Team (ex Le Defi) had their share of dramas too, trawling their kite at the weather mark to the point that the rig must surely have been at risk. But the biggest problem was to come 30 minutes later when their boom broke during the break between races!
Unable to transfer a spare onto the boat in the lively conditions, the Spanish walked away with an easy point.
Among those that did make it around the course were the Swedes and the German United Internet Team who had a full-on fight for the afternoon, the Swedes narrowly scoring a victory. The quiet Swedes admit to being pleasantly surprised at the performance of a boat that has only recently been unpacked from the container that came from Auckland. Their next and last race in Act 4 will provide the opportunity to finish 5th, if they can beat the Spanish.
Once again, the big ‘if’ reigns.
****** LIVE AUDIO & RESULTS******
Follow the action live from Valencia as Richard Simmonds, Mark Covell and Matthew Sheahan report live from the course.
To listen to the daily commentary log on to the official site at;
Alinghi – 10
Emirates Team New Zealand – 9
BMW ORACLE Racing – 9
Luna Rossa Challenge – 8
Desafío Español 2007 – 6
Victory Challenge – 5
39 Challenge – 3
K-Challenge – 3
Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team – 3
United Internet Team Germany – 3
China Team – 1
Team Shosholoza – 0