The Kiwis converted the small advantage off the starting line into a 12 second lead around the first mark. But on the run, a burst spinnaker on NZL 92 and a poor recovery by the New Zealand crew, saw Alinghi slide past and grab a lead the Swiss team would never relinquish. Alinghi crossed the finishing line in front of the large spectator fleet, 19 seconds ahead of the Emirates squad.
Race 6 is scheduled to start on Saturday afternoon at 15:00.
In the pre-start, Emirates Team New Zealand's Dean BARKER (NZL) watched BAIRD roll into a dial-up, but instead of matching, he bore away beneath Alinghi's stern, forcing SUI 100 up above the starting line. BARKER then harried BAIRD across the top of the Race Committee boat and the Swiss were forced to seek refuge in the spectator fleet on the right side of the start box.
From there the Kiwis controlled the lead into the start, holding the Swiss high up near the Race Committee boat. Alinghi tacked just before the start gun, downspeed as they passed the committee boat on port, while New Zealand launched off the line. BARKER tacked to track Alinghi over to the right, and for a while it looked like the Swiss boat would sail away underneath the Kiwis as the advantage line came back to zero.
However, BARKER and his crew found another gear and matched BAIRD out to the right-hand layline. Once safely in the corner, the Kiwis tacked and led Alinghi back to the windward mark, leading around by 12 seconds.
Just a few minutes into the run disaster struck the Kiwi boat. A little rip developed in the spinnaker and the foredeck crew were readying a replacement when the first spinnaker blew apart. A miscommunication on the boat saw the new kite hoisted before it had been properly attached, so it blew out like a flag from the mast head.
Emirates head Grant DALTON (NZL) did not shy away from the team's error, 'We starting hoisting but I don't think we had the tack on so we ended up with no spinnaker. That was a mistake.'
By the time the team had a third spinnaker in place, Alinghi had sailed out to leeward of the stricken Kiwi boat and gybed its way into the lead.
Eventually the Kiwis settled down again, but at the leeward gate the Swiss were leading by 26 seconds. With Alinghi taking the right mark, New Zealand took the left, looking for some separation. Amazingly the Kiwis got close to Alinghi on the second beat, pulling back to three boatlengths as a tacking duel ensued. However Terry HUTCHINSON (USA) opted to match Brad BUTTERWORTH's (NZL) tacks and follow Alinghi into the final mark, now 24 seconds behind.
Down the final run the Kiwis chose a symmetrical spinnaker, perhaps because they had exhausted their supply of asymmetrics from the breakdown earlier, but they still looked as fast as Alinghi and closed a bit of distance. However, BAIRD and crew held their nerve to secure the win and go one race up on the scoreboard.
For the Kiwis it was an incredibly frustrating day, as they saw all the work of a great start and first beat evaporate in three disastrous minutes. Back on shore DALTON said, 'We have always emphasised reliability as an essential element of our campaign. Today that small tear in the spinnaker cost us the race.'
However, he said the mood in the camp remains upbeat, 'It was an important race and not a race that we should have lost by a mistake doing something we've practiced a thousand times. But will get over it and we come out again tomorrow. We'll stay up and positive and move on tomorrow.'America's Cup Match
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