Grant DALTON'S Emirates Team New Zealand swept its three races on Monday afternoon on the Gulf of Valencia, leaping to the top of the leaderboard at the Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 2.
The Kiwis beat K-Challenge, Luna Rossa and +39 to go into the final day with a one point lead over Luna Rossa.
BMW ORACLE Racing and Team Alinghi, both highly touted teams coming into the regatta will need to win at least two of their races on Tuesday to threaten the top of the leaderboard. Based on current form, Luna Rossa has the easiest schedule on Tuesday.
It was a tricky day on the Gulf of Valencia with the Southerly sea-breeze battling against a more Westerly gradient wind. In the middle Flight especially, this resulted in big opportunities for gains and losses on the race course.
Match of the Day - Luna Rossa beat Team Alinghi
This Match in the first flight of the day was a tight confrontation between two top teams with Luna Rossa skipper Francesco de ANGELIS and his team making a pass on the final run to win the race. On the start, both boats hit the line at speed, Alinghi helmsman Peter HOLMBERG settling for the right hand side of the race course, with James SPITHILL, ITA 74, claiming the left. The boats raced out on a long starboard tack, with Holmberg slowly gaining height on the Italian boat until Spithill was forced to tack. Holmberg used his starboard tack advantage to keep bouncing the Italian boat left each time they converged, and led around the top mark by 18-seconds. On the first run, Alinghi set a spinnaker while the Luna Rossa afterguard elected to use an asymmetric sail. The decision appeared to work for Luna Rossa, with the Italians closing up on the first run.
But Alinghi held firm and led by 13 seconds at the second windward. On the final run, the Italians gybed first and suddenly found better pressure on the left hand side of the race course. By the time Alinghi gybed in a covering position, the Italians were storming down the side of the race course and were able to roll over the top of the Swiss boat. Luna Rossa won the race by 14 seconds, avenging a loss in Round Robin One against the America's Cup Defender.
In the other matches in Flight 2, each of the top teams held serve against their lower ranked opponents in races that started in a brisk 17-knot westerly, which eased to 10-12 knots by the finish.
In the Flight 3, the heat of the sun generated a sea-breeze that quickly extinguished the gradient Westerly. The wind for these matches was light and patchy and offered plenty of peril for the tacticians and strategists on each boat.
Whilst Alinghi and Emirates Team New Zealand were able to build an early lead and run away with their matches, the other two pairs struggled around the race course with BMW ORA CLE Racing struggling on the final run to hold off the winless South African team. There was a moment approaching the finishing line when Team Shosholoza appeared poised to win an enormous upset, but the Americans prevailed in the end.
The final pairing in this flight was a dramatic encounter between +39 and LE DEFI. In the fluky conditions the leading boat was never confident as time and again the trailing boat found wind that didn't reach the leader. On the final run to the finish both boats eventually were forced to drop their spinnakers and the wind died completely with the pair just metres from the finishing line. Skipper Iain Percy on +39 was the luckier man on the day, and found just enough breeze to slide across the finishing line, leaving a frustrated Philippe PRESTI helpless and adrift.
For the final flight on the day, the sea-breeze died off, the gradient wind returned at 10-12 knots, and normal service resumed, with each of the top four teams prevailing in their races.
Racing continues on Tuesday with Flights 5, 6 and 7 to conclude the second Round Robin, and the Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 2. Racing is scheduled to start at 11:40.
Louis Vuitton Act 2 - Provisional Results and Leaderboard
Round Robin Two - Flight 2
Match 1 NZL 81beat FRA 57, delta 1:09
Match 2 USA 71 beat ITA 59, delta 1:45
Match 3 ITA 74 beat SUI 64, delta 0:14
Match 4 FRA 69 beat RSA 48, delta 0:58
Round Robin Two - Flight 3
Match 4 SUI 64 beat FRA 57, delta 3:23
Match 2 NZL 81 beat ITA 74, delta 6:18
Match 1 USA 71 beat RSA 48, delta 1:24
Match 2 ITA 59 beat FRA 69, delta 2:39
Round Robin Two - Flight 4
Match 3 USA 71 beat FRA 57, delta 2:06
Match 2 SUI 64 beat RSA 48, delta 1:17
Match 1 ITA 74 beat FRA 69, delta 1:08
Match 4 NZL 81 beat ITA 59, delta 3:17
Team Name: (Points) Matches Won / Sailed
Emirates Team New Zealand (10) 10 11
Luna Rossa (9) 9 11
BMW ORACLE Racing (8) 8 11
Team Alinghi (8) 8 11
LE DEFI (4) 4 11
K-Challenge (3) 3 11
+39 (2) 2 11
Team Shosholoza (0) 0 11