'I love this team,'
said Alinghi President and afterguard member Ernesto BERTARELLI (SUI) moments after the finish.
This final race of the America's Cup was befitting of what has been the closest, most exciting America's Cup in recent history. Emirates Team New Zealand spent much of the race ahead on the advantage line, but with Alinghi in strong tactical position on the right hand side of the race course. The Kiwis were never able to get a big enough lead to cross ahead and switch sides.
After making a pass on the first run and leading through the leeward gate by 14 seconds, Emirates Team New Zealand again found it could not get across the bow of SUI 100 on the second upwind leg.
With both boats approaching the top mark separated by just a few metres, the Kiwis, approaching from the left on port tack, faced Alinghi roaring in on the privileged starboard tack. Both boats went into a 'dial-down' and the Umpires penalized the port tack NZL 92 crew for not keeping clear of Alinghi. That, effectively, was the race. Alinghi rounded the top mark ahead by 12 seconds and looked secure for the win.
But then, an enormous windshift saw Emirates Team New Zealand able to lay finishing line which was now upwind. As Alinghi struggled to drop its spinnaker, the Kiwis turned into tack to fulfil its penalty obligation. Now downspeed, the Kiwis could only watch in horror as Alinghi slid across the line, just 1 second ahead.
As SUI 100 crossed the finishing line, the crew was muted in its celebration, still stunned by what had occurred over the past 5 minutes. The spectator fleet paying respect through a cacophony of boat horns. The Alinghi crew took up a tow to join in the celebrations in Port America's Cup
It was a perfect day for racing on the waters off Valencia, with the bright, warm, Valencian sun generating a strong 14 to 17 knot sea breeze. As with the past race days of this 32nd America's Cup Match, there was a healthy sized spectator fleet on hand to witness the racing.
Match 7 - Alinghi beat Emirates Team New Zealand - DELTA 0:01
Yet again it was a tense and aggressive pre-start between the teams, with Dean BARKER (NZL) refusing the traditional dial-up in favour of getting below Alinghi's stern and chasing Ed BAIRD (USA) around the start box.
BARKER always looked in control, but at start time both boats were at full speed off the line, Alinghi to the right of NZL 92. BAIRD managed to live there for some minutes, until he was forced to tack away over to the right.
The Kiwis claimed the lead for a brief moment up the beat, but towards the top of the course Alinghi managed to hold their opponent past the port layline. A luffing match ensued before BAIRD accelerated and took SUI 100 around the windward mark 7 seconds ahead.
Down the run, the Kiwi gybes and spinnaker handling looked more assured, and with the Alinghi spinnaker flailing momentarily, BARKER surged past BAIRD into the lead. At the bottom gate, the Kiwis opted for the simpler spinnaker drop, taking the left-hand mark, Alinghi making a difficult gybe-drop look easy and rounding the right-hand mark 14 seconds behind.
The Kiwis tacked over to loose-cover Alinghi as both boats tracked out to the right-hand side. Brad BUTTERWORTH (NZL) called for a tack over at the Kiwis and a tacking duel ensued. Alinghi appeared to be winning the battle, and eventually the Kiwis disengaged, still a boatlength ahead but to the left of their rivals.
When BARKER reached the port layline, he tacked and immediately bore away into a dial-down against BAIRD. The Kiwis tried to get below the line of SUI 100, but it was close. The Swiss flew a Y flag in protest, and the Umpires flew a yellow penalty flag in response.
Now a penalty down, the Kiwis rounded the final mark 12 seconds behind. On the final run to the finish, the breeze was dropping, but the Kiwis could make no impact. Alinghi was on the final approach to the finish when their spinnaker pole flew off the mast, the spinnaker flailing. At the same time the breeze dropped and shifted massively.
- dead in the water - was overtaken. Then the Kiwis almost reached the line and took their penalty with a double-tack. Struggling to accelerate, they bore away to cross but Alinghi made it across the finish by just 1 second.
'This is a fantastic day for
Alinghi, to win the America's Cup again after four years of hard work! The crew, the designers and the shore team have done an incredible job throughout the series, we have fought hard against a strong challenger and have won. We'll be celebrating tonight!' declared Alinghi team skipper, BUTTERWORTH.
Emirates head Grant DALTON (NZL) was gracious in defeat, 'The guys have done an amazing job.' he said. 'Right now the guys aren't feeling that sharp. It's been a long four years. I'm of course enormously proud of them but Alinghi did a better job than us.'
In the end the 5-2 scoreline does not reflect just how close the racing was, with lead changes a feature of almost every one of the races in Valencia. SUI 100 and NZL 92 proved to be very evenly matched boats and today's winning margin was a fitting end to a fantastic 32nd America's Cup Match
'Even though the boats are not that similar, in terms of their appendage packages and hull shapes, we thought it would be close,'
said Grant SIMMER (AUS), Alinghi's managing director and design team coordinator. 'This now is a contest of metres - metres to get you in a position where you can get a strong lee bow, or metres where you can just get across the other boat. It's so close now, that every cm is significant.'
America's Cup Match
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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.
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