Despite an initial deficit when they crossed the start line of 1 minute and 27 seconds, the trimaran USA, with its massive 68 metres wing sail were able to pass the Defender's catamaran Alinghi 5 after around 15 minutes of the 20 miles windward leg.
BMW ORACLE Racing Team's final Race 1 winning margin of 15 minutes and 28 seconds is the biggest in the history of the America's Cup since the 27th edition in 1988, the last Deed of Gift match, when the USA's catamaran Stars & Stripes won successive matches against New Zealand's KZ 1 monohull by 18 mins 15 secs and 21 mins 10 secs.
It is the first time that double America's Cup winners Alinghi have lost an America's Cup match race since they were defeated by Emirates Team New Zealand on Monday 25th June 2007. Then Alinghi went on to win three successive matches to retain the America's Cup, but now Sunday's scheduled second race, around the 39 miles Deed of Gift triangle course, of three 13 miles legs, becomes a 'must win' for the Defender's crew.
By the windward turn of today's race USA were 3 minutes and 21 seconds ahead and the black and white hulled trimaran broke the finish line in the growing dusk, to record a winning delta of 15 minutes and 28 seconds.
USA, with James Spithill (AUS) steering, managed to immediately inflict a penalty on the Swiss crew when Alinghi 5, entering with no right of way, could not cross ahead of the Challengers just after the entry into the start arena.
Starting at 1435hrs (local) in around 6-7 knots of southerly breeze, the heart stopping opening manoeuvres proved some of the best and worst of match-racing the giant multihulls. Conditions throughout were ideal for the historic first head to head match between the cutting edge, giant multihulls.
While USA were able to catch Alinghi out for tacking in their water, when both were on the wrong side of the start line, USA could not then capitalise. When the Swiss catamaran was able to peel away with speed to cross within ten or 15 seconds of the start gun, USA were stalled out, unable to get moving back towards the start.
USA showed superior speed and height through much of the upwind leg, their edge to windward appearing to be greatest when they sailed 'wing only' with no jib but just the giant solid wing mainsail, but it was on the long downwind leg that USA were able to extend most over the catamaran.
A lead of three minutes and 21 seconds at the only turn of the historic Deed of Gift course was increased to somewhere around 10 minutes and 8 seconds when Alinghi 5 closed the finish.
The Defender Alinghi did not initially complete their penalty turn correctly, and it took them an additional five minutes to finally unload their penalty.
The second race is scheduled Sunday, warning signal time 1000hrs.
33rd America's Cup, Race 1.
USA (BMW ORACLE Racing, USA) defeat Alinghi 5 (Alinghi, SUI)
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