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21 June 2005, 09:33 am
Alinghi Wins The Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 4, Or Does It?
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America's Cup 2007
Valencia, Spain

By sailing a flawless race over Emirates Team New Zealand yesterday, it appeared as if Alinghi (SUI) had sewn up the regatta, having bested BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) along with the Kiwis. The only top team left was Luna Rossa (ITA), and with their loss on Monday to BMW ORACLE Racing, the Italians were two points adrift.
However yesterday evening, Luna Rossa filed a request for redress with the Jury for the 32nd America's Cup, claiming they were interfered with by a non-race boat during their match with BMW ORACLE. That sets up some interesting 'what ifs'.

If Luna Rossa wins its hearing (scheduled for 0930 hours local time this morning) and if the Jury orders a re-sail of the match, and if Luna Rossa wins that re-sail over BMW ORACLE Racing, then today's match between Alinghi and Luna Rossa will determine first place in the event. If Luna Rossa wins, that will vault the Italians into a tie with Alinghi, and they would win the tie-break, by virtue of having beaten the Swiss team. However, as you can see, it is a long string of 'ifs' to get there.

Any other scenario and Alinghi retains the title that it appeared to have won yesterday.

Alinghi looks to be a deserving champion of Act 4. The Defenders of the 32nd America's Cup beat both Emirates Team New Zealand and BMW ORACLE Racing in style, convincingly winning the starts and sailing strong, dominating races to get the points. In the form they are showing now, the biggest 'if' in the list for Luna Rossa may not be convincing the Jury to award redress, but in beating a Defender that has hit its stride.

Yesterday Alinghi exclusively claimed the top of the table on a day when strong winds came to the Valencia Louis Vuitton Acts.

For some of the newer, smaller teams, the wind strength took them to their limits and beyond. For the bigger teams, the stronger conditions provided useful tests of people and equipment.

The sea breeze built early and strong, peaking near 20 knots on both race courses, easing only towards the end of the second flight of races on the day. All twelve teams made it through the first flight of races - Shosholoza (RSA) scored as not finishing, but this was due to not completing a penalty obligation, rather than equipment failure - but between flights China Team broke their boom and retired from racing for the day. +39 Challenge (ITA) also retired at the start of their race, handing an easy point to their rivals Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team (ITA).

The southern race course featured Alinghi against Emirates Team New Zealand, a battle of two unbeaten teams. Alinghi revelled in the strong winds and dispatched the Kiwis without too much trouble. With the victory, Alinghi cements its place at the top of the table.

The United Internet Team Germany continues to be a pleasant surprise, earning their third win of the Act over China Team in the opening flight. The Germans sailed for just one week before racing began, but despite the lack of preparation, the team sits equal seventh, ahead of China Team and the South Africans.

Closest on the north course was the match between the Spanish team, Desafío Español 2007 and +39. The start proved troublesome for +39 who were over the line early and were late to dive back to restart. The Italian team, led by British Olympic gold medalist Iain PERCY, grafted away and had pulled back to within two boat lengths of the Spanish after three legs. However on rounding the top mark for the second time, the Italian team pulled up their big spinnaker while sailing at too slow a speed causing the spinnaker to explode. While the Italian team sorted out the mess astern of them, Desafío Español was able to hold its lead through the finish, putting them within spitting distance of the 'big four' teams in the overall points.

Racing was also close between China Team and United Internet Team Germany, where the German team had the upper hand for a majority of the race save for the first leeward gate rounding when the Chinese briefly pulled ahead. However Jesper BANK's (DEN) crew showed better boat handling in the conditions and went on to score their third point.

Meanwhile Victory Challenge (SWE) earned their fourth point with a straight forward win over Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team. The story was the same in the match for Luna Rossa despite a fighting start by the South African team and for Larry ELLISON's BMW ORACLE Racing against K-Challenge (FRA), the big teams remaining unshaken.

The stronger conditions began to take their toll in the second set of matches. China Team retired with a broken boom, allowing Desafío Español a walk-over win. Against Mascalzone Latino-Capitialia, +39 went through the pre-start, but equipment problems forced them to abandon the race without starting.

Victory Challenge was pushed hard all the way by the surging German team, but in the end the Swedes clung to the lead earning a point that leaves them in a fight with the Spanish for fifth place overall. Their match today will determine this.

On the south race course all eyes were focussed on BMW ORACLE Racing against Luna Rossa. This showed promise early with the Italians fighting hard to stay in touch with the Americans who had won the start. A close mark rounding at the top mark and some good downwind sailing saw Luna Rossa surge ahead, but BMW ORACLE helmsman Gavin BRADY (NZL) recovered the lead just before the leeward gate. Then, disaster struck the Italians who had trouble with their spinnaker drop, the sail streaming behind them in the water. By the time the crew got the mess cleaned up, BRADY and his team had sailed off into the distance and on towards victory. Later in the evening the Italian team filed their request for redress, which could prove vital to the outcome of this Act.

As well as the big match between Alinghi and Luna Rossa today, BMW ORACLE Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand will face off on the north race course in a battle for second or third place, depending on the Luna Rossa outcome. On the south course, the Spanish face Victory Challenge. Although Spain leads by a point, a victory by the Swedes would vault them into a tie, and they would win the tie-break by virtue of victory. Conditions are expected to be similar with moderate to strong sea breezes forecast.

Results

Flight Nine

Desafío Español 2007 beat +39 Challenge - delta 0:51
United Internet Team Germany beat China Team - delta 0:44
Victory Challenge beat Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team - delta 2:21
Luna Rossa Challenge won; Team Shosholoza did not finish
BMW ORACLE Racing beat K-Challenge - delta 1:32
Alinghi beat Emirates Team New Zealand - delta 0:36

Flight Ten

Desafío Español 2007 won; China Team did not start
Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team won; +39 Challenge did not start
Victory Challenge beat United Internet Team Germany - delta 0:35
BMW ORACLE Racing beat Luna Rossa Challenge - delta 0:56
Emirates Team New Zealand beat Team Shosholoza - delta 4:00
Alinghi beat K-Challenge - delta 1:22

Line up for flight eleven

Flight Eleven

Match 1: Team Shosholoza - K-Challenge
Match 2: Luna Rossa Challenge - Alinghi
Match 3: BMW ORACLE Racing - Emirates Team New Zealand
Match 4: Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team - China Team
Match 5: Victory Challenge - Desafío Español 2007
Match 6: United Internet Team Germany - +39 Challenge

Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 4 Standings

1. Alinghi (SUI), 10 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 9
2. BMW ORACLE Racing (USA), 9
4. Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA), 8
5. Desafío Español 2007 (ESP), 6
6. Victory Challenge (SWE), 5
7. +39 Challenge (ITA), 3
7. K-Challenge (FRA), 3
7. Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team (ITA), 3
7. United Internet Team Germany (GER), 3
11. China Team (CHN), 1
12. Team Shosholoza (RSA), 0

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The controversial match between BMW ORACLE and Luna Rossa:© Gilles Martin-Raget
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