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3 April 2007, 06:00 pm
BMW Win In Testing Conditions
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America's Cup 2007
Valencia, Spain

The final season of the 32nd America's Cup opened with racing on a complicated spring day in Valencia, spain. The changeable weather meant the leaderboard was shuffled on each leg of the race course, with a massive wind shift on the final run of the first race denying +39 Challenge a fairytale ending and giving BMW ORACLE Racing an opening victory.
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The American challenger charged out of nowhere, passing six boats on the final run, with the South African Shosholoza team close behind. +39 Challenge, after leading for most of the race, was forced to settle for a heartbreaking tenth place. The Italian team had been fortunate just to make the starting line on Tuesday afternoon, after sailing with a new mast for the first time after sunset on Monday.

Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13 is the ultimate preliminary regatta of the opening Acts, and represents a final opportunity for the challengers to move up or down on the Louis Vuitton Ranking table. For Alinghi, the Defender, this racing represents a last look at the challengers; following Act 13, will not race again until the America's Cup Match beginning on 23 June.

Large crowds gathered on the terraces of the Veles e Vents building to cheer the teams as they left for racing midday and again to see them return in the evening.

Race 1

In one of the most extraordinary races ever witnessed in America's Cup racing, BMW ORACLE Racing sailed from eighth to first on the final fickle run of race 1 in Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13. Starting in 7 knots of breeze, the American team had won the left-hand end of the start line an hour and a half earlier but, with Emirates Team New Zealand next to them, sailed into oblivion as the boats on the right started to benefit from better wind from that side of the race track.

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BMW ORACLE Racing on their
way to victory
© Gilles Martin-Raget/
BMW ORACLE Racing
Alinghi who broke the right-hand end of the start line too early and had to go back to restart, then found themselves on the favoured side, climbing all the way back to fourth place at the top mark. Meanwhile, +39 Challenge tactician Ian WALKER (GBR) liked the look of the breeze on the right-hand side and made a break away from the rest of the fleet working up the left. The gamble paid off, launching +39 Challenge into a comfortable lead which it held for the next lap and a half of the two-lap course. The right-hand side of the course had been paying throughout, and not surprisingly the first few boats gybed around the final mark to consolidate their advantage.

Alinghi and BMW ORACLE on the other hand, saw something new on the left-hand side of the race course near the top of the second windward leg. Both made late gains there, and elected to pursue that side on the final run to the finish as well. +39 skipper Iain PERCY (GBR), attempting to protect his lead, sailed down the middle of the course. But the Italians broke a spinnaker, before sailing into a wind hole from which they would never recover. The pack in the middle of the course slowed down while Ed BAIRD (USA) steered SUI 91 around the outside with Chris DICKSON (NZL) not far behind.

Perfect Gybe-Peel Wins The Day

BMW ORACLE held further to the left and started to threaten the leaders on board Alinghi. As both boats converged, with Alinghi holding starboard right of way, DICKSON launched USA 87 into a gybe while the foredeck crew executed a perfect peel to a new spinnaker midway through the manoeuvre.

This proved the winning move as Alinghi was forced away to the right. The Defender never recovered as the American boat sailed off to a whopping winning margin of 3 minutes and 34 seconds as the wind became very light and variable.

The remaining 11 boats were forced to look for whatever breeze they could find. Shosholoza did best in the difficult conditions, crossing in second place ahead of Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team, the Italian red boat relegating Alinghi to fourth place. Original leaders +39 Challenge finished in a heartbreaking tenth place, and had company with Areva Challenge, who dropped from second to ninth on the final run. Victory Challenge, who suffered two spinnaker breakages, and briefly appeared to lead early in the race, took up the rear in race 1.

The Race Committee then kept the fleet at sea for 90 minutes, hoping the shifty conditions would settle enough to have another race. But at 18:00, racing was cancelled for the day.

Standings

Pos Team R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 Pts
1 BMW ORACLE Racing (USA 87) 1/12 12
2 Team Shosholoza (RSA 83) 2/11 11
3 Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia (ITA 99) 3/10 10
4 Alinghi (SUI 91) 4/9 9
5 Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL 84) 5/8 8
6 United Internet Team Germany (GER 89) 6/7 7
7 Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA 94) 7/6 6
8 Desafío Español 2007 (ESP 97) 8/5 5
9 Areva Challenge (FRA 93) 9/4 4
10 +39 Challenge (ITA 85) 10/3 3
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, Race 1 in Act 13 threw up all sorts of surprises:© ACM 2007/Photo:Stefano Gattini
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