|VALENCIA, SPAIN-(7-4-2007) On a day that dawned with torrential downpours and fickle winds, by race time the skies had cleared and the wind soon stabilised to the point where the Race Committee could start the races after only a short delay. On the water, Alinghi continued its dominant performance in Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13, posting a second place to go with a fourth race victory, to win its fourth consecutive fleet racing Act.|
The home team, Desafío Español, pleased the holiday weekend crowds by winning the first race of the day, whilst Shosholoza accomplished its goal for Act 13 – the South Africans finished seventh in Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13, which was good enough for Shosholoza to overhaul the French Areva Challenge on the Louis Vuitton Ranking, snatching a bonus point. At the top of the Louis Vuitton Ranking, Emirates Team New Zealand’s position as top challenger in Act 13 confirmed its place atop the challenger ranking and the four bonus points that go along with it.
There was plenty of action throughout the fleet racing Act, which also marked the debut of the 2007 configuration of Port America’s Cup. By the time Saturday’s attendance totals are factored in, over 230 000 people will have poured into the Port, including a record of more than 63 000 on Friday. On Saturday evening, the crowd saw Alinghi accept the trophy for Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13, its eighth Act win in 13 Louis Vuitton Acts.
At the start, the pin end seemed popular but Team Shosholoza was well over prior to the gun and as they were locked in among the pin-enders the South Africans had trouble rounding back to restart. The big teams pulled out an early lead, heading out to the left, Alinghi on its own having had a relatively peaceful start out at the committee boat end of the line.
Sailing conservatively up the middle of the course, minimising tacks and keeping out of trouble, it was Karol Jablonski at the helm of the Spanish team Desafío Español 2007 who finally nosed ahead about two thirds of the way up the first beat.
The rest of the race was fairly processional with the Spanish showing calm nerves, good boat handling and a flash of downwind speed despite a strong assault from the Swiss defender. Towards the finish Alinghi made a final charge but this was not enough and Desafío Español’s ESP 97 got its first gun of Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13, finishing just seven seconds ahead.
After a strong performance Friday, Luna Rossa found itself on the wrong side of both beats to finish a disappointing eighth. This sets up an exciting final race between Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia and Luna Rossa for top Italian team in Act 13.
In perhaps the most outstanding demonstration of their exceptional boat speed and crew work, the final race of Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13 saw Alinghi claim victory – its fourth in this regatta – despite starting almost 40 seconds behind the fleet, after another poor start.
While China Team got off to a strong start, on the first beat it was Desafío Español, still buoyant from its win in the previous race, along with BMW ORACLE Racing and Luna Rossa who were all contending for the lead. By the top mark, it was Larry Ellison’s American team who rounded the weather mark in first place followed by the Spanish and Luna Rossa.
But the Umpires judged Desafío Español to have tacked too close to Luna Rossa approaching the top mark. The Spanish were forced to carry out a penalty turn but in the process they passed too close to Areva Challenge and Thierry Peponnet raised his protest flag aboard the French boat. The Umpires then penalised Desafío Español for a second time, pushing them well down the fleet.
Luna Rossa stuck to BMW ORACLE Racing like glue on the first run, allowing Alinghi, now up to third, to remain on its own out to the left. At the leeward gate Alinghi dropped its spinnaker early and came into the mark fast, rounding up sharply and tacking out to the left side, leaving BMW ORACLE and Luna Rossa team to head out to the right. In the latter stages of the beat a short tacking duel took place between BMW ORACLE and Luna Rossa and this combined with a useful shift allowed Alinghi to pull into the lead and Vincenzo Onorato’s Latin Rascals able to overtake their Italian rivals on Luna Rossa.
Alinghi rounded the top mark ahead of BMW Oracle by 15 seconds with Mascalzone 16 seconds ahead of Luna Rossa. The final run saw no change of position among the leaders and Alinghi comfortably scored their fourth win by 39 seconds. A third place for Mascalzone Latino secured their third place overall in Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 13, just one point back of Emirates Team New Zealand who placed second overall.