It was a convincing win, as helmsman Karol JABLONSKI (POL) put a penalty on the Emirates squad in the pre-start, before leading the Kiwi boat around the track, extending away on the second lap of the course for a tremendous win.
In the other match, Luna Rossa Challenge led of the starting line and sailed a tactically conservative match to beat BMW ORACLE Racing. The Italians led for the entire contest.
There were good sea breeze conditions on the waters off Port America's Cup today, with a generous spectator fleet cheering on the Spanish team.
The Spanish came out all guns blazing, with JABLONSKI sailing aggressively at Emirates Team New Zealand in the pre-start. The aggression was rewarded with a penalty against the Kiwis who the Umpires judged as having gybed too close to the Spanish boat. At start time both boats were fast off the line. Desafío Español had made a measurement change to ESP 97 overnight and the alteration seemed to pay off, with the Spanish able to match or even better the Kiwis for upwind pace.
The Spanish rounded 14 seconds ahead at the first mark, although the smoother gybing Kiwis reduced that gap to just 8 seconds at the leeward gate. A bit of a split developed up the final beat, but when the Kiwis returned from the left side of the course, they had fallen further behind and rounded 44 seconds in arrears at the final turning mark. The Spanish were never threatened after that, and by the time New Zealand had unwound the penalty at the finish line, the winning delta for Spain was 1 minute 14 seconds.
After winning the start so convincingly, JABLONSKI was in a confident mood in the press conference following the racing, 'There is more to come! Pre-starts are complicated, and it is very easy to turn from hero to zero. The key part is to minimalize the risks and get off the line in good shape. It's not all starts and penalties. In those boats making action in the pre-start is difficult as you have to be very focussed on time on distance, but we promise some more action for sure.'
Meanwhile Emirates helmsman Dean BARKER (NZL), admitted to his mistake in the pre-start, 'I definitely take full responsibility for the decision. As helmsman there are times that you have to be able to make judgement calls, and every now and then you won't be right, but with these teams you have to be prepared to be reasonably aggressive at times and this one just didn't play out.'
He added, 'We've had a good run and have proved it with the way we have been sailing, but today was one of those days right from the start it didn't go well - the penalty was an error I made, and we still believed if we could lead and control the race we could have built up a lead to offset that. We worked really hard but the breeze went right quicker than we anticipated.'
James SPITHILL (AUS) brought his usual aggressive pre-starting to bear against BMW ORACLE Racing today, and he had Chris DICKSON (NZL) on the ropes with less than a minute to go. It looked as though he could have pushed the American boat over the starting line early, but instead Luna Rossa went for a clean and fast start off the Race Committee boat end on port tack while DICKSON struggled to squeeze the downspeed USA 98 across at the pin end on starboard tack.
These boats kept a much tighter match today than on previous days, but the gap at the first mark was still quite big, 29 seconds in Luna Rossa's favour. As always, BMW ORACLE looked powerful downwind and reduced the gap to 24 seconds by the leeward gate. When the American boat broke for the left side of the final beat, Luna Rossa tacked to shadow their opponents, and did not allow the sort of massive separation to develop that we have seen on other days.
By the top mark, the Italians were 45 seconds ahead. Once again the American boat looked faster, and in a closer match a 14-second gain might have come to something. As it was, Luna Rossa refused to be flustered and the Italians sailed across the line 31 seconds ahead, to take the lead in this tightly-fought series.
SPITHILL said confidence is running high in the team, 'I'm feeling pretty comfortable just because I've got confidence in the guys - it feels like we have got a real strong team and the guys are really digging it in on the handles. When you've got that kind of belief it gives you that extra boost in yourself. The guys have pretty much said to me 'put the boat wherever you need to and the sails will be there' and they have delivered. So it's full credit to those guys.'
'It is going to be a great series, close and hard-fought,' predicted BMW ORACLE Racing navigator, Peter ISLER (USA). 'We are disappointed to go 2-1 down, but on Friday we will go out and take it on again. We feel very strong and that we have all the ability and options to turn it around and finish up on top. We just have to go out and square it up again and then take it one race at a time.'
There is a lay day tomorrow, with the Semi Finals resuming on Friday.
Louis Vuitton Cup - Wednesday's Semi Final Matches
(the first team to win five points in each pairing advances)
|Emirates Team New Zealand||1||1||0||2|
|Desafío Español 2007||0||0||1||1|
|BMW ORACLE Racing||0||1||0||1|
|Luna Rossa Challenge||1||0||1||2|
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.