The first America's Cup races in Valencia were sailed on Tuesday, the first competition in the host city of the 32nd America's Cup.
Italians Luna Rossa made a good debut at this America's Cup, beating BMW ORACLE Racing before falling to the winner of the 31st America's Cup, Team Alinghi. The Swiss Defender won both of its matches today and heads the leaderboard.
Racing began in the Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 2 after a postponement to allow the sea breeze to fill-in. The first starts, beginning at 15:10, took place in a light five to seven knot, Easterly wind. The wind built to 10 knots for the second flight of races.
The first match of the afternoon was a race between Luna Rossa and BMW ORACLE Racing, and the Italian team served notice that it would be a force to be reckoned with. Luna Rossa, despite being one of the last teams to lodge an official challenge, has been based in Valencia and sailing longer than any of the other teams. The team has built on its strong base from the last two Louis Vuitton Cups by adding James Spithill, and many of his young crew from the 2003 OneWorld campaign. The crew knows the waters here, the team has a good foundation, and is fully funded. Luna Rossa came into Act 2 with the potential to upset any of the top three teams from Marseille.
Luna Rossa helmsman James SPITHILL lived up to his reputation as a strong starter, dominating the pre-start and leading Gavin Brady on USA-71 across the starting line by nine-seconds. The Italians extended the rest of the way around the course, handily beating the winners of Act 1 by 58-seconds.
In the other matches of Flight One, the Defender, Team Alinghi comfortably beat the other new team making its debut in Valencia, +39 while K-Challenge was able to triumph over its French rival LE DEFI, and Emirates Team New Zealand rolled over the South African Team Shosholoza.
In the second flight, Luna Rossa couldn't repeat its performance. Team Alinghi led from the start of this match and on the shorter courses that are the format of the Louis Vuitton Acts, Luna Rossa wasn't able threaten the Defender.
The best match of the afternoon was the race between Team Shosholoza and LE DEFI. The South African team was strong at the start once again, with skipper Geoff MEEK leading across the start line, but electing to tack away for the right hand side of the course before hitting full speed. LE DEFI was able to use its speed advantage to eke out a small lead on the left, but could never break away completely from Shosholoza and the race was relatively close through the final downwind leg.
Emirates Team New Zealand matched Alinghi's trick of two wins on the day, although its opponents were likely a little bit weaker, with the Kiwis downing K-Challenge in Flight Two. BMW ORACLE recovered from its loss to Luna Rossa with a win over +39, who had a tough welcome to the America's Cup world, losing to the two top teams in Marseille.