Defiant ahead again

A report from day 5 of the Canada's Cup

Thursday October 2nd 2003, Author: Ed Furry, Location: United States
Day 5 of the Canada's Cup began in a deadlock between Defiant and Heartbreaker. The regatta has been a series of streaks and it looks like that would continue today. The conditions were much different today with light and variable wind around 5-6 knots.

The start of Race 9 was in slow motion compared to the rest of the races. The light wind forced the teams to set up early for the start and this would cause both boats to be over early for the first time of the regatta. Heartbreaker got back to restart first as the two boats would split tacks on the first beat.

Defiant led at the top mark 1 by 11 seconds. They extended on the downwind leg to 15 seconds at the leeward mark. Heartbreaker cut the delta to 10 seconds at the second windward mark only to have Defiant gain again downwind for a 19 seconds delta. This was opposite from yesterday where Heartbreaker gained on every downwind.

The last upwind leg was a tacking dual that saw Heartbreaker try to get closer to Defiant. This worked, as the delta at the final mark was 11 seconds and the final downwind leg turned into a gybing dual. Heartbreaker closed the gap but couldn’t pass Defiant. This was the closest finish of the Canada’s Cup with Defiant winning by a mere two feet. Defiant now holds a 5-4 lead.

Heartbreaker was flying a protest flag at the finish. They didn’t file the protest but Heartbreakers tactician, John Kostecki, asked to meet with the judges and a Defiant representative to discuss the rule about hiking during role tacks and gybes.

The conditions for the start of race 10 were similar to race 9 - light and variable. The start was very slow with Defiant winning and both boats eventually heading to the right side of the course. The wind then dropped to 3-4 knots on the first beat. Defiant rounded the first mark with a 15 second lead.

With the light conditions the boats stayed close together with Heartbreaker getting to within 7 seconds at the last leeward mark. Defiant increased her lead to 22 seconds at the final mark.

The last downwind leg was a nail-biter as the wind almost completely died. Both teams struggled to keep their spinnakers flying until the wind finally filled from behind giving Heartbreaker fans hope. In the end Defiant held on to the lead finishing in a 22 second delta and a commanding 6-4 lead in the Canada’s Cup.

Day 6 could be interesting as the wind is supposed to increase. Heartbreaker has been better in the breeze but the pressure is on since Defiant needs to only win one more race to defend the Canada’s Cup.

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