BMW ORACLE Racing, Luna Rossa Challenge, and Desafío Español 2007 are the other Semi Finalists. The Semi Final portion of the Louis Vuitton Cup begins on Monday 14 May and is a 'first to five', head-to-head series. The first team in each pairing to win five points (one point per win) will advance to the Final.
For the remaining seven challengers, today marks the end of their participation at the 32nd America's Cup. Each of the seven has added greatly to the colour, spirit, and competitive level of the event. Their impact here will not be forgotten.
The big match to decide who would finish top of the Round Robins started beautifully. After a tense pre-start, with BMW ORACLE threatening to luff Emirates Team New Zealand but never actually doing so, both teams made excellent starts, side by side.
Shortly after the start, Dean BARKER (NZL) broke for the right while Chris DICKSON (NZL) held to the left. By the time NZL 92 tacked back on to starboard the lateral separation across the course was enormous. At this stage the Americans were leading by about two or three boat lengths, but as a right-hand windshift came in, the advantage line soon moved in favour of New Zealand.
In a matter of minutes Team New Zealand had moved to more than 250 metres ahead, and BMW ORACLE had no chance of getting back into the race from there. The Kiwis extended around the race track and, even with a small rip in its spinnaker after the final gybe, the New Zealanders crossed the finishing line well over one minute ahead.
|Emirates and BMW at the start
© ACM 2007/Photo:Vicent Bosch
Team New Zealand Managing Director and floater onboard Grant DALTON (NZL) said after the race that the team had done nothing different today than it had all regatta, 'We prepared exactly as we always do. We put together a game plan that suited the conditions. We got a good call from the weather team. Then Dean and the boys performed a perfect execution.
'We expected a wind shift from the right on the first beat and it came on cue. We built a good lead quite quickly and from then, the plan was simply to keep our boat between USA 98 and the finish mark. We didn't have an anxious moment during the entire race.
'The team has finished the rounds robin exactly as we planned so long ago… strong and sailing well. On Monday the game starts all over again. Every win to date in the Louis Vuitton Cup counts for nothing.'
In the battle to decide seventh overall in the Louis Vuitton Cup, Areva Challenge and Shosholoza drifted towards the start line very early and very slow, but it was Sébastien COL (FRA) who controlled the start and accelerated while the South Africans struggled to get past the Race Committee boat. However RSA 83 soon got up to speed and it was a long drag race out to the left. Paolo CIAN (ITA) made slighter better boatspeed pay for South Africa and they rounded the first mark 13 seconds ahead.
It was pretty even down the run but up the final beat the French started closing and putting South Africa under pressure. Areva pulled even closer on the final run to the finish, and there were less than two boat lengths between the two, COL trying to wrong foot Shosholoza into a gybing error. But the South Africans were not taking the bait, and crossed the line 14 seconds ahead, arms held high in pride and celebration.
In a battle for bragging rights only, Victory Challenge and Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team made great starts with the Swedish tacking away to the right after crossing the line. Mascalzone followed and took an early lead of about one boat length. After a few exploratory tacks against each other, the Italians capitalized on the early lead to sail across the Swedish bow and claim the right-hand side of the course. They rounded 17 seconds ahead at the first mark and sailed a controlled race through to the finish. Just before crossing the finishing line, the flamboyant Italians peeled to a different spinnaker, which proclaimed: 'Thank you Italy, thank you Naples', and the Latin Rascals crossed the line 38 seconds ahead of the Swedish.
Luna Rossa Challenge helmsman James SPITHILL (AUS) had it all his own way in the pre-start against the second helmsman for Desafío Español 2007, Jesper RADICH (DEN). SPITHILL was able to keep RADICH pinned outside the Race Committee boat as the starting gun fired. Luna Rossa then ducked back under the boat, and across the starting line, well ahead of the Spanish team. From there, the Italians chose the favoured side of the race course and led into the top mark. The Spanish cause was not helped when its spinnaker draped over the windward mark, incurring a penalty. Luna Rossa sailed the rest of the way untroubled, to finish third on the leaderboard.
There was an early lead to United Internet Team Germany off the starting line in its match against +39 Challenge, who had a minor collision with a photo boat in the pre-start, when its swinging transom clipped the small motor boat. The incident did not appear to affect the Italian boat, which soon took back the advantage, and led into the top mark. From there, helmsman Iain PERCY (GBR) was able to hold on for his third consecutive victory.
Louis Vuitton Cup - Wednesday's Matches
1. Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team beat Victory Challenge. 0:38
2. Luna Rossa Challenge beat Desafío Español 2007. 1:54
3. Emirates Team New Zealand beat BMW ORACLE Racing. 1:34
4. +39 Challenge beat United Internet Team Germany. 0:30
5. Team Shosholoza beat Areva Challenge. 0:14
Bye - China TeamLouis Vuitton Cup - Round Robin Two - Provisional Leaderboard
|Pos||Team||Points - End of RR1||Matches Sailed RR2||Matches Won RR2||Pts|
|1||Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL 92)||18||10||10||38|
|2||BMW ORACLE Racing (USA 98)||21||10||8||37|
|3||Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA 94)||19||10||8||35|
|4||Desafío Español 2007 (ESP 97)||17||10||6||29|
|5||Victory Challenge (SWE 96)||14||10||6||26|
|6||Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia (ITA 99)||14||10||4||22|
|7||Team Shosholoza (RSA 83)||12||10||4||20|
|8||Areva Challenge (FRA 93)||9||10||4||17|
|9||+39 Challenge (ITA 85)||6||10||3||12|
|10||United Internet Team Germany (GER 89)||3||10||1||5|
|11||China Team (CHN 95)||1||10||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.