In the bag for Alinghi

As final race of America's Cup Act 6 concludes in Malmo

Tuesday August 30th 2005, Author: Peter Rusch, Location: Scandinavia
The Defender of the America's Cup, Alinghi, remains unbeaten on the 2005 match racing season, with helmsman Jochen Schuemann leading the Swiss over Emirates Team New Zealand to sweep to an 11-0 record.

Alinghi may be well ahead of the challengers, but there's plenty of competition in the challenger fleet. BMW Oracle Racing had to beat Luna Rossa today to ensure second place and that's just what they did. Chris Dickson's team was very convincing in putting its issues off the water behind them - the only blemish on their record is a loss to Alinghi.

The +39 Challenge and Shosholoza are the other big winners of the week. For the Italians, an equal fifth on points (sixth after the tie break) is a great result. This team has come along way from its first efforts in Valencia in 2004, and is climbing the learning curve faster than anyone else at the moment. Similarly, Shosholoza was rewarded for its efforts with two wins - the first ever for South Africa. Still struggling at times, Shosholoza is nonetheless moving in the right direction.

Tuesday's loss to the Swiss capped a tough week for the Kiwis. The Emirates squad salvages third on the points table, winning the tie-break by virtue of a victory over Luna Rossa. But losses to Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing, as well as a surprise fall to +39, showed the Emirates squad still has work to do to get to the top of the ladder again. As for Luna Rossa, losses to the three teams ahead of it were tempered by a perfect record against the rest of the fleet. But the Italians have to start beating the top three teams to take the next step.

Conditions on the Øresund were much different on Tuesday with 10 to 12 knot northwesterlies under clear, sunny skies. Plenty of Swedes and Danes were on the water this afternoon as spectator boats crowded the two race courses, catching the action of the 32nd America's Cup.

Flight Eleven

This match between the home Swedes and Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia was for seventh place. Italian skipper Vasco Vascotto saw his counterpart Magnus Holmberg spin out under him from the dial-up and escape. Both boats started on starboard tack with speed with the Italians on the right hand side. That's where Vascotto found a handy right-hand shift that lifted him a boat length clear. Some tidier crew work by the Italians kept them in front and secured seventh place on the points table.

Shosholoza and China Team fought hard in this battle to stay off the bottom of the table. The Chinese looked good early when Shosholoza helmsman Chris Law was again assessed a penalty in the pre-start for not keeping clear. But the South Africans used the penalty to turn the tables in the pre-start and blocked the China Team skipper Pierre Mas from starting on time. Although China Team closed the gap early, a poor spinnaker drop and leeward gate rounding allowed South Africa to extend away. The men on Shosholoza executed a perfect spinnaker drop and penalty turn to win the race, and finish off the bottom of the points table for the first time in the 32nd America's Cup.

At the top of the table, each position between second and fourth was there for the taking for three teams. BMW Oracle Racing could guarantee its best finish of the year with a win over Luna Rossa. That's exactly what Chris Dickson and his men did. The Americans led off the start line, but Luna Rossa had the power of the right. It wasn't long however before Dickson had extended enough that he could cross the bow of the Italian boat clearly, and the BMW Oracle Racing squad never looked back.

+39 Challenge capped a great week of racing with a win over United Internet Team Germany. The start looked difficult for Italian skipper Iain Percy early on with German skipper Jesper Bank pushing to hold the Italians out. But Percy was able to put his bow down and was able to build speed ahead of the starting gun, crossing the line with pace. He converted this into a dominant position early, and Bank didn't have the speed to threaten him.

Although Alinghi didn't have anything material at stake in this contest, the Swiss were gunning for a perfect record, and perhaps looking to make a statement to the Kiwis as well. It was a close race off the starting line, but Alinghi was able to use superior speed and height to slowly pull ahead upwind. The Swiss escaped clear ahead of Emirates about halfway up the leg and Team New Zealand couldn't climb back into it.

Spanish skipper Karol Jablonski won his race in the pre-start pushing K-Challenge above the layline for the starting line. When French skipper Thierry Peponnet gybed to escape, Jablonski simply turned up for the line. Peponnet found himself tacking directly behind the Spanish boat and pinned in a difficult and slow position off the starting line. From there Desafío Español could taste fifth place overall, and raced on to secure it with the victory.

Racing resumes after two days off in the Malmö-Skåne Louis Vuitton Acts with the Fleet Racing of Act 7 on Friday.

Results

Flight 11
Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team (ITA 77) beat Victory Challenge (SWE 73), delta 1:01
BMW Oracle Racing (USA 76) beat Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA 74), delta 1:11
Alinghi (SUI 75) beat Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL 82), delta 2:03
Team Shosholoza (RSA 83) beat China Team (CHN 69), delta 0:43
+39 Challenge (ITA 59) beat United Internet Team Germany (GER 72), delta 0:51
Desafío Español 2007 (ESP 67) beat K-Challenge (FRA 60), delta 0:20

Malmö-Skåne Louis Vuitton Act 6 Points Leaderboard

Team Points
Alinghi 11
BMW ORACLE Racing 10
Emirates Team New Zealand 8
Luna Rossa 8
Desafío Español 2007 6
+39 Challenge 6
Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team 5
Victory Challenge 4
K-Challenge 3
United Internet Team Germany 2
Team Shosholoza 2
China Team 1

More photos on the following pages...

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