The 31st America's Cup Match produced a number of firsts, both stellar and dubious. If Team NZ is looking for solace in the result suffered at the hands of Alinghi, they can look to the numbers for some justification that they weren't far off the mark.
A number of America's Cup firsts were set in the 31st Match.
Alinghi won the Match 5-0, but only had to complete three of the five races. Team New Zealand gifted the challenger two races it dropped out of due to breakdowns, a first for the Defender.
Team New Zealand dropped out of Race 1 when it was just 17 minutes old. Their boom was broken, two genoas pulled out of the luff groove and NZL-82 was taking on large amounts of water.
They were forced to retire from Race 4 when their mast broke about halfway up the second beat due to a failed spreader tip cup.
In the three races that both boats finished, Alinghi won by an average of 25 seconds, which ranks as the closest average delta and a bright spot for the young New Zealand squad.
The closest average delta for a full series was the 1992 final between William I. Koch's America3
and Raul Gardini's Il Moro di Venezia
. That five-race series produced an average delta of 52 seconds.
Alinghi's 7-second, come-from-behind victory in Race 2 ranks as the fourth closest in Cup Match history. The closest was the dead heat between Sir Thomas Lipton's Shamrock IV
and the Nathanael G. Herreshoff-designed Resolute
in Race 3 of the 1920 Match.
Alinghi won three of the five starts, all five first crosses and led at the first windward mark in every race. They lost one lead, in Race 2, before staging the dramatic comeback on the run to the finish.
Alinghi led at 13 mark roundings and Team New Zealand at four.
With the victory, Alinghi skipper Russell Coutts became the all time winning skipper in the Match. He's won 14 races without a loss, surpassing Dennis Conner for total victories and Charlie Barr for most without a loss. And his third consecutive Cup victory ties him with Harold Vanderbilt and Barr in that category.
While Coutts' place in the history books is assured, there are other members of his crew who have more consecutive victories.
Brad Butterworth (tactician), Murray Jones (traveller), Warwick Fleury (mainsheet), Simon Daubney (genoa trim) and Dean Phipps all have 15 straight wins. They sailed the final race of Team New Zealand's highly successful 2000 defence when Coutts sat out.
Alinghi finished the America's Cup season with a 31-4 overall record. On-the-water they were 30-3.
The 31st Match almost made the record books for longest ever. Its 16-day period is two days shy of the 1899 endurance contest between Lipton's first Shamrock
and the American Columbia
, co-owned by J. Pierpont Morgan and with Barr at the wheel.
It took 11 tries between October 3 and October 20, 1899, to get the three-race series completed. The recently completed match needed 12 days to complete the five-race series off Sandy Hook, New Jersey.
While the 1899 contest was beset with fog and light winds, the 2003 Match saw it blown off the water by winds at both ends of the scale. Since the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup last October, 26 of 73 days (35.6 percent) were postponed due to problems with the weather.