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29 September 2005, 03:13 pm
They're Off In Trapani!
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America's Cup 2007
Trapani, Sicily, Italy

The weather behaved perfectly for the start of the match racing in Sicily today. Sunny skies and 12-knot south-westerly breezes set the scene for some great racing, but by the end of the first flight the breeze had become much more shifty and fluky.
The most exciting match of the first flight was the mid-table battle between K-Challenge and Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team. Interestingly, both these teams left their Kiwi tacticians ashore, with Cameron APPLETON (NZL) giving way to Sebastian COL on the French boat, and Hamish PEPPER (NZL) unlisted on the Italian boat. Early advantage went to K-Challenge off the start line as Mascalzone struggled to find its rhythm.

However, Vasco VASCOTTO (ITA) eventually got the Italians up to pace and they started to attack the French. Thierry PEPONNET (FRA) held just a 10-second lead around the first windward mark, but the Italians were close enough to keep the pressure on. The French kept their nerve to maintain a narrow advantage around the leeward gate, as the two teams diverged to opposite sides of the second beat. K-Challenge's option for the right paid dividends as they stretched to a marginally more comfortable 18-second delta at the final windward mark. The Italians never gave up though, and a 13-second gap at the finish shows just how evenly matched these teams were today.

Local team +39 Challenge harried Victory Challenge in the pre-start, but as the gun fired both teams got away perfectly on opposite tacks. A left-hand shift brought an early lead for Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) and the Swedish team, and after a number of tacks they managed to get across +39's bow. The Swedes held a four boatlength lead down the first run but around the leeward gate, Iain PERCY (GBR) seized the chance to split away from HOLMBERG. An early shift to the left brought +39 back on level terms, but only for a moment, as Victory found a right-hand advantage to eke out a small lead. As the wind softened and became more shifty down the final run, +39 threw multiple gybes at the Swedes, but to no avail as SWE-63 crossed the finishing line ahead.

Jesper BANK (DEN) and United Internet Team Germany looked unfazed by the might of BMW ORACLE, and the Germans controlled the American team nicely during the pre-start. However, all their good work came undone when they crossed the start line fractionally too early, and as BANK spun the boat back towards the start, Chris DICKSON (NZL) sailed off to an easy lead. BMW ORACLE Racing extended around the course to win by 2 minutes 12 seconds.

Emirates Team New Zealand led Shosholoza off the line and was never seriously threatened by the South Africans. That said, with American Dee SMITH hired in to call tactics, Shosholoza looked a tidy unit and kept the Kiwis' lead to a respectable 1 minute 49 seconds.

Desafío Español got the better of Alinghi in the pre-start, Karol JABLONSKI (POL) taking the fight to Ed BAIRD (USA). Leading off the line by a boatlength, Spain held the advantage - but not for long as the pace of SUI-75 became too much for ESP-67, which this week is using a lighter and stiffer Version 5 mast. Alinghi was soon on level terms with Desafío and were leading by the windward mark. The Swiss gradually stretched away from the Spanish to win by 50 seconds.

Luna Rossa led China Team by two boatlengths off the start line, and any hopes of an upset disappeared when China's genoa broke just minutes later. By the time Pierre MAS'S team had replaced the broken sail, the Italians had more than 10 boatlengths in hand. By the finish, Luna Rossa was over 700 metres ahead of China Team.

Event Media (As Amended by ISAF)
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