Luna Rossa Challenge has jumped out to a 3-1 series lead over BMW ORACLE Racing and taken a major step closer to its goal in the first-to-five battle.
In the other pairing, Emirates Team New Zealand started ahead of Desafío Español 2007 and extended the rest of the way around the race track. The Spanish made up 5 seconds on the final run, but it was not enough; the Kiwis won by 42 seconds. The Emirates team now also enjoys a 3-1 series lead.
An enormous spectator fleet enjoyed a sunny Friday afternoon with good sea breeze conditions for racing. The wind varied between 10 and 13 knots, with slight oscillations over the course of the day. Racing in the Semi Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup resumes on Saturday afternoon.
Chris DICKSON (NZL) succeeded in avoiding James SPITHILL's (AUS) attempt at aggression in the pre-start, and BMW ORACLE Racing rolled off the start line at pace, to the right of the equally quick Luna Rossa. When USA 98 tacked away, the Italians followed them out to the right, with a slight edge on the Americans.
After a long sail out to the right side of the course, DICKSON eventually tacked, a move which initiated a long and tiring tacking duel all the way to the starboard layline. From there the Italians led around the windward mark with a 13 second advantage. Unlike previous races where USA 98 had shown a clear downwind advantage, the Italians kept their rivals at bay and led by 12 seconds at the leeward gate.
However, after a tightly fought match up to this point, Luna Rossa allowed BMW ORACLE to break away unchallenged to the left, Torben GRAEL (BRA) keeping faith in the right. By the time DICKSON tacked back, the separation between the boats was 2,700 metres across the race course. Everything would now come down to who found the better wind. For a time it looked like USA 98 had the advantage to the left but when the boats finally reconvened in the middle of the course, Italy had jumped ahead to a five-boatlength lead.
|NZL 92 spotter Adam BEASHEL
goes aloft during the last leg
© Chris Cameron/ETNZ
BMW ORACLE navigator Peter ISLER (USA) said, "The big split in the second windward leg was like a battle of nerves. As we split through the leeward gate, the Italians made an effective gain of a couple of boatlengths by sailing a shorter distance. We were looking for something to go our way on the left, but the shift did not come. When we came back together, the gap was about the same. We threw a lot of tacks and gybes at them and our guys did great work. But, without any mistakes on the Italian boat and no big windshifts, we could not erase their lead."
It was a 29-second delta round the final mark and despite a protracted gybing duel down the last leg BMW ORACLE could only close the gap to 23 seconds by the finish. This was an emphatic victory for Luna Rossa.
At the end of the race Luna Rossa skipper Francesco DE ANGELIS (ITA) said, 'Every single victory is important. Each race is difficult and going home with an extra point is always a good thing. We are learning something new from every race, pushing the boat and crew to grow at every chance we get. At the leeward gate we rounded the starboard mark as we wanted and had a good feeling of what was going to happen up the course on the right hand side. Of course it's gut wrenching every time there is a separation, but one must believe in the choices one makes. Pleasure without pain is too easy: we need to work hard and keep on moving forward.'
Karol JABLONSKI (POL) has looked very dangerous in the pre-start, but today Dean BARKER (NZL) gybed inside Desafío Español to seize the right-hand side of the start box. However, rather than starting on the right, BARKER got a hook on the green boat, by slipping his bow under the Spanish transom, forcing JABLONSKI to tack away towards the Race Committee boat. The Spanish started downspeed while the Kiwis accelerated off the left-hand end of the line.
The New Zealanders sailed a typically tight match against Spain, taking small chunks out of their opposition in a tacking duel up the first beat and leading by 25 seconds at the first mark. They were never seriously challenged after that, and Emirates Team New Zealand crossed the finish 42 seconds ahead.
Emirates team boss Grant DALTON (NZL) said the team had done exactly what was expected of them today, 'Dean BARKER, Terry HUTCHINSON [(USA) tactician], Ray DAVIES [(NZL) strategist] and the weather team got it exactly right. They made the calls and got perfect backup from the boys.
'We sailed well today. We led from the start, plugged away at building a lead and then kept it tight and conservative when we needed to and extended when we were comfortable.'
Louis Vuitton Cup - Friday's Semi Final Matches
(the first team to win five points in each pairing advances)
|Emirates Team New Zealand||1||1||0||1||3|
|Desafío Español 2007||0||0||1||0||1|
|BMW ORACLE Racing||0||1||0||0||1|
|Luna Rossa Challenge||1||0||1||1||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.