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26 April 2007, 07:20 pm
Spanish Rising, Kiwis Falling
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Louis Vuitton Cup 2007
Valencia, Spain

Desafío Español won both its races on Thursday to climb higher up the leaderboard, while BMW ORACLE Racing remains undefeated at the Louis Vuitton Cup. Near the top of the table, Italy's Luna Rossa Challenge beat Emirates Team New Zealand to remain in the top three on the points table.

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Racing conditions were excellent with an easterly wind of 10 knots blowing across the race areas. The conditions were gusty and shifty, leaving plenty of passing lanes for the tacticians to discover. And the Umpires were busy on Thursday as well, with penalties the deciding factor in a number of races.

Flight 8

The first match saw United Internet Team Germany pick up an unexpected penalty in a pre-start port/starboard incident. While Desafío Español won the early advantage and took the favoured right, the Germans regained ground later on the first beat to round the weather mark 13 seconds behind. The Germans once again chose the correct side going left on the run and ended up just 9 seconds astern at the leeward gate. On the second lap the speed of ESP 97 along with superior tactics prevailed, and the Spanish finished 52 seconds ahead.

Areva Challenge and Victory Challenge provided dramatic action in their match. The Swedes gained the upper hand in the pre-start causing Areva to start 15 seconds behind. The French team entered into a tacking duel with the Swedes up the right side of the beat. Areva was allowed to take the right and during the tacking duel the Swedes picked up a penalty for tacking too close. Matters went from bad to worse when Areva pulled ahead on the race course, to round the weather mark with a 7 second advantage. The Swedes pulled in front on the second beat, rounding the weather mark 9 seconds ahead, but still holding a penalty. Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) and his team outgunned the French on the run and were just able to carry out their penalty turn in time to squeeze across the finishing line ahead of the French.

The duel between Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team and Team Shosholoza was no less tense. After an early advantage to the Italians, a tacking duel at the latter stage of the first beat saw the Italians lead around the weather mark just 8 seconds ahead. The Italians sailed well on the run extending their lead to 38 seconds on the run after the South Africans ripped their spinnaker. However another prolonged tacking duel on the third beat saw the South Africans recover once again to round with an 8 second deficit. An ambitious gybe set at the second mark rounding momentarily delayed Shosholoza who once again began closing on the Italians down the left side of the course. But just out from the finish, Shosholoza ripped another spinnaker and could only watch as Mascalzone Latino sailed on to victory.

+39 failed to threaten BMW Oracle Racing in their match and China Team did not start its match against Emirates Team New Zealand, after returning to shore with technical difficulties, allowing the Kiwis two easy points.

Flight 9

The bad news in this match started early for Dean BARKER (NZL) when the Italian boat put a penalty on the New Zealanders early in the pre-start, after the Umpires judged the Kiwis had not kept clear in the dial-up. The two split at the start with Luna Rossa heading out to the left gaining the advantage. The Italians pushed the New Zealanders out beyond the starboard layline, luffing them up beyond the weather mark, eventually rounding just 10 seconds ahead. Emirates TNZ lost more on the run rounding 26 seconds astern. But on the final run, they edged ahead of the Italians. However their margin was not large enough to complete a penalty turn and after a failed attempt to luff Luna Rossa in an effort to offset the penalty, they finished 48 seconds astern after completing their penalty turn.

Luna Rossa's navigator Michele IVALDI (ITA) explained, "At the start James was able to capitalize on a moment of indecision on the Kiwis part and then close in on them gaining the upper hand. At the first windward mark we were in a strength position that allowed us to push them out and round the buoy first. When they passed us on the run we were even more relaxed. The only important thing was not accumulating more than a 30 second delta. At the end they prepared the same trap we would have had the tables been turned. But we ready for that move and were able to cross their bow at full speed."

In their match with BMW ORACLE Racing, Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team pulled out a small lead when they were first to catch a favourable shift on the beat. The result was a prolonged tacking duel. After a brief respite in the middle of the beat, the tacking duel resumed and during this the Italians picked up a penalty for tacking too close. On the port layline into the weather mark BMW ORACLE overtook the Italians to leeward to round the top mark 20 seconds ahead. Mascalzone Latino did not lose heart repeatedly gybing down the run, but the Americans then began to show their greater horsepower to win by 1:38.

After their rig and appendage issues and with no wins in Round Robin One, +39 Challenge put up a strong showing against Team Shosholoza. Following an intense tacking battle up the first beat the South Africans rounded the weather mark 13 seconds ahead. +39 continued to hound the South Africans on the run rounding the gate mark on their transom but were ultimately unable to get past Shosholoza who won by 26 seconds.

Victory Challenge led Desafío Español out of the start, but was outpaced by the Spanish on the left of the beat and despite the Swedes splitting from the Spaniards on the final leg enabling them to draw level, Desafío put two more points on the board winning by 35 seconds.

China Team once again forfeited their race, due to keel problems, handing Areva Challenge two easy points.

Louis Vuitton Cup - Thursday's Races

Flight 8

1. Desafío Español 2007 beat United Internet Team Germany . 00:52
2. Victory Challenge beat Areva Challenge . 00:05
4. Emirates Team New Zealand won, China Team did not start. CHN DNS
5. Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team beat Team Shosholoza . 01:56
6. BMW ORACLE Racing beat +39 Challenge. 02:14.

Bye - BMW ORACLE Racing

Flight 9

1. Desafío Español 2007 beat Victory Challenge . 00:35
2. Luna Rossa Challenge beat Emirates Team New Zealand . 00:48
3. Areva Challenge won, China Team did not start . CHN DNS
4. Team Shosholoza beat + 39 Challenge . 00:26
5. BMW ORACLE Racing beat Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team. 01:38.

Bye - Victory Challenge

Louis Vuitton Cup - Round Robin One - Leaderboard
Pos Team Bonus Points Matches Sailed Matches Won Pts
1 BMW ORACLE Racing (USA 98) 3 8 8 19
2 Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL 92) 4 8 6 16
3 Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA 94) 3 8 6 15
3 Desafío Español 2007 (ESP 97) 3 8 6 15
5 Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia (ITA 99) 2 8 6 14
6 Victory Challenge (SWE 96) 2 8 5 12
7 Team Shosholoza (RSA 83) 2 9 4 10
8 Areva Challenge (FRA 93) 1 8 3 7
9 United Internet Team Germany (GER 89) 1 8 1 3
10 +39 Challenge (ITA 85) 2 8 0 2
11 China Team (CHN 95) 1 9 0 1

The America's Cup Match and Challenger/Defender Series are designated as ISAF Special Events. For more information on the America's Cup, the Louis Vuttion Acts and the teams competing, visit the official America's Cup website - www.americascup.com.

For a complete list of all the news about the America's Cup 2007 CLICK HERE.
ACM 2007 (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Luna Rossa take on Emirates Team New Zealand:© ACM 2007/Photo: Vicent Bosch
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