Alinghi may be well ahead of the challengers, but there is plenty of competition in the challenger fleet. BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) had to beat Luna Rossa (ITA) yesterday to ensure second place and that was just what they did. Chris DICKSON's team was very convincing in putting its issues off the water behind them - the only blemish on their record is a loss to Alinghi.
The +39 Challenge (ITA) and Shosholoza (RSA) are the other big winners on the week. For the Italians, an equal fifth on points (sixth after the tie break) is a great result. This team has come along way from its first efforts in Valencia, Spain in 2004, and is climbing the learning curve faster than anyone else at the moment. Similarly, Shosholoza was rewarded for its efforts with two wins - the first ever for South Africa. Still struggling at times, Shosholoza is nonetheless moving in the right direction.
Tuesday's loss to the Swiss capped a tough week for the Kiwis. The Emirates squad salvages third on the points table, winning the tie-break by virtue of a victory over Luna Rossa. But losses to Alinghi and BMW ORACLE Racing, as well as a surprise fall to +39, showed the Emirates squad still has work to do to get to the top of the ladder again. As for Luna Rossa, losses to the three teams ahead of it were tempered by a perfect record against the rest of the fleet. However the Italians have to start beating the top three teams to take the next step.
Conditions on the Øresund were much different on Tuesday with ten to twelve knot northwesterlies under clear, sunny skies. Plenty of Swedes and Danes were on the water yesterday afternoon as spectator boats crowded the two race courses, catching the action of the 32nd America's Cup.
This match between the home Swedes and Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia (ITA) was for seventh place. Italian skipper Vasco VASCOTTO (ITA) saw his counterpart Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) spin out under him from the dial-up and escape. Both boats started on starboard tack with speed with the Italians on the right hand side. That is where VASCOTTO found a handy right-hand shift that lifted him a boat length clear. Some tidier crew work by the Italians kept them in front and secured seventh place on the points table.
Shosholoza and China Team fought hard in this battle to stay off the bottom of the table. The Chinese looked good early when Shosholoza helmsman Chris LAW was again assessed a penalty in the pre-start for not keeping clear. But the South Africans used the penalty to turn the tables in the pre-start and blocked the China Team skipper Pierre MAS from starting on time. Although China Team closed the gap early, a poor spinnaker drop and leeward gate rounding allowed South Africa to extend away. The men on Shosholoza executed a perfect spinnaker drop and penalty turn to win the race, and finish off the bottom of the points table for the first time in the 32nd America's Cup.
At the top of the table, each position between second and fourth was there for the taking for three teams. BMW ORACLE Racing could guarantee its best finish of the year with a win over Luna Rossa. That is exactly what DICKSON and his men did. The Americans led off the start line, but Luna Rossa had the power of the right. It was not long however before DICKSON had extended enough that he could cross the bow of the Italian boat clearly, and the BMW ORACLE Racing squad never looked back.
+39 Challenge capped a great week of racing with a win over United Internet Team Germany. The start looked difficult for Italian skipper Iain PERCY (GBR) early on with German skipper Jesper BANK (DEN) pushing to hold the Italians out, but PERCY was able to put his bow down and was able to build speed ahead of the starting gun, crossing the line with pace. He converted this into a dominant position early, and BANK did not have the speed to threaten him.
Although Alinghi did not have anything material at stake in this contest, the Swiss were gunning for a perfect record, and perhaps looking to make a statement to the Kiwis as well. It was a close race off the starting line, but Alinghi was able to use superior speed and height to slowly pull ahead upwind. The Swiss escaped clear ahead of Emirates about halfway up the leg and Team New Zealand could not climb back into it.
Desafío Español skipper Karol JABLONSKI (POL) won his race in the pre-start pushing K-Challenge (FRA) above the layline for the starting line. When French skipper Thierry PEPONNET (FRA) gybed to escape, JABLONSKI simply turned up for the line. PEPONNET found himself tacking directly behind the Spanish boat and pinned in a difficult and slow position off the starting line. From there Desafío Español could taste fifth place overall, and raced on to secure it with the victory.
Racing resumes after two days off in the Malmö-Skåne Louis Vuitton Acts with the fleet racing of Act 7 on Friday.
Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team beat Victory Challenge - delta 1:01
BMW ORACLE Racing beat Luna Rossa Challenge - delta 1:11
Alinghi beat Emirates Team New Zealand - delta 2:03
Team Shosholoza beat China Team - delta 0:43
+39 Challenge beat United Internet Team Germany - delta 0:51
Desafío Español 2007 beat K-Challenge - delta 0:20
Malmö-Skåne Louis Vuitton Act 6 Standings
1. Alinghi (SUI), 11 points
2. BMW ORACLE Racing (USA), 10
3. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 8
4. Luna Rossa (ITA), 8
5. Desafío Español 2007 (ESP), 6
6. +39 Challenge (ITA), 6
7. Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team (ITA), 5
8. Victory Challenge (SWE), 4
9. K-Challenge (FRA), 3
10. United Internet Team Germany (GER), 2
11. Team Shosholoza (RSA), 2
12. China Team (CHN), 1