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3 October 2005, 04:02 pm
Squalls Bring Rain, Wind and Tough Conditions to Trapani
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America's Cup 2007
Trapani, Sicily, Italy

Squalls bringing rain and gusty winds, whipping the Mediterranean Sea into a frenzy off Trapani, signalled a change on Monday from the relatively idyllic weather of the weekend. The wind generally ranged from 12 to 17 knots for the first flight of races, with gusts in the squalls in excess of 20-knots.
The tough conditions wreaked havoc on the America's Cup teams, with breakages throughout the fleet. The South Africans were the first to fall, unable to raise a mainsail in time for their match against Alinghi. The Swiss won their 30th consecutive match this year.

The most heartbreaking failure was on K-Challenge, in the middle of an extremely close race with Victory Challenge. Trouble on the second beat saw the headsail fall to the deck and a man go up the mast in an effort to effect repairs. Meanwhile, the Swedes simply sailed away, closing to within a point of the French

Flight Eight

Shosholoza was unable to hoist the mainsail prior to the match against Alinghi, handing a walkover victory to the Swiss Defender.

The eagerly awaited Italian derby was spoiled when Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team started fractionally too early as they led Luna Rossa off the line. The grey boat sailed away unchallenged up the first beat. But then an uncharacteristic error saw Luna Rossa's spinnaker explode down the first run, allowing the red boat to steam up behind them and turn this match into a race again. However, Francesco de ANGELIS had his boat going fast up the next beat and rounded a good way in the lead. Any hopes of a Mascalzone turnaround faded when spinnaker problems saw Vasco Vascotto's team sail much of the last run with just a mainsail.

Both boats started perfectly, Desafío Español to the right of United Internet Team Germany, but the Spanish had their rig under better control in the strong winds and they dominated the Germans in the early stages. The Germans ripped the jib up the first beat, and then had problems hoisting the spinnaker on the first run. Germany dropped a long way behind, and with no prospect of fixing its problems, Jesper BANK retired from the match, handing the win to Karol JABLONSKI's team.

+39 Challenge engaged in a dial-up with BMW ORACLE, but the Italians failed to control their position and were given a penalty for coming too close to the American boat. The Americans dominated this match, winning by 2 minutes and 12 seconds, although there was a red protest flag flying from the Italian boat, suggesting +39 had an argument to make with the Race Committee.

K-Challenge pre-started aggressively against Victory Challenge, and the French tactics appeared to pay off as they crossed the line half a boatlength ahead and to the right of the Swedes. Thierry PEPONNET led up the first beat, but down the first run the French had spinnaker problems, allowing Magnus HOLMBERG to surf past FRA 60 and into a narrow lead. The boats peeled out of the leeward gate at the same time on diverging tacks, the Swedish winning the more favoured left-hand mark by virtue of holding the inside position on the approach. This was looking set for a classic duel up the second beat until genoa and forestay problems forced K-Challenge to turn away from the wind momentarily. By the time they were going again, the Swedes had stretched to a 700-metre lead, and they went on to win this crucial match in the battle for fifth place in Trapani.

Emirates Team New Zealand accelerated faster off the line, although China Team did a great job of almost matching Kiwi pace. Things were looking straightforward for the Kiwis until a small hole appeared in the mainsail. A man was sent aloft to deal with the problem, and NZL 82 came home a comfortable distance ahead, but with China Team sailing a strong race in tough conditions.

Flight Nine

K-Challenge was so late entering the start box that Luna Rossa was able to hand the French an easy penalty on a clear port/starboard incident. Problems with her jib put her out of the race just 30 seconds after crossing the start line, which left the Italians to sail all the way round the course in isolation. K-Challenge later reported structural problems, and they made an early decision to head back in for overnight repairs, in a bid to ready for Tuesday's matches.

+39 Challenge gained control of the pre-start to lead Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team by two boatlengths across the line. Down the first run the blue team led the red team by six boatlengths, with the wind having shifted so far that they port-reached all the way to the leeward gate. +39 extended its lead for most of the rest of the race, whilst down the final run Mascalzone saw its second spinnaker of the day explode.

Desafío Español did well in the pre-start against BMW ORACLE and appeared they might be able to bounce Chris DICKSON (USA) off on to the other tack. DICKSON stuck to his guns however, with USA 76 looking much steadier through the lumpy swell while ESP 67's bow smashed through the waves. The Americans began to roll over the green boat, sailing to a 34 second lead by the first mark. USA 76 extended its advantage the rest of the way.

Shosholoza had Victory Challenge tied up in knots before the start, but an excruciatingly slow tack just before the gun allowed the Swedish to accelerate through South African dirty air and out the other side. Magnus HOLMBERG's (SWE) team played the shifts well to take an eight-boatlength lead by the first mark. Victory Challenge looked very comfortable around the course and were never challenged by Shosholoza.

An aggressive pre-start in this heavyweight bout between Emirates Team New Zealand and Alinghi saw both boats late back to the start line. But the Swiss accelerated much better and led the Kiwis off the line by more than a boatlength. Dean BARKER (NZL) rolled into a down-speed tack right after starting and a short tacking duel ensued, but Ed BAIRD (USA) maintained the early advantage to lead around the first mark by 28 seconds. The Kiwis chased hard down the run, but all that good work came unravelled in an uncharacteristic boathandling error, when a corner of red spinnaker caught the water just as they were exiting the leeward mark. The sail was whipped out of the forehatch and after a brief battle to get it under control Emirates Team New Zealand elected to jettison the sail over the side. But the damage was done and Alinghi now held a commanding lead, and they sailed to a surprisingly easy victory.

China Team and United Internet Team Germany sailed off the line on opposite tacks, but with Pierre MAS (FRA) claiming the favoured right-hand side of the course. China sailed a very solid race and stretched away from the Germans. Jesper BANK (DEN) used the shifting wind to fight back to within three boatlengths of the Chinese up the final beat, and pulled past the red boat on the final run to the finish. Despite two losses today, China Team acquitted themselves admirably in some tough conditions.

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