Alinghi into final
Saturday July 1st 2006, Author: Peter Rusch, Location: none selectedThe Swiss defender of the America's Cup won both of its semi-final matches over Luna Rossa to advance to the final, where it will race for the Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 12 crown. Who they will face there has yet to be determined, as BMW Oracle Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand split their two matches.
It was a spectacular day for racing on the waters off Valencia with bright sunshine and warm temperatures generating moderate sea breezes. The conditions presented many tactical challenges however as neither the wind pressure nor its direction were stable.
Hundreds of spectator boats ringed the two race courses as the stakes were raised to a new level in this series of Louis Vuitton Acts. Shosholoza rose to the occasion surprising Desafío Español with a dramatic passing move just before the finish line in their first match, while +39 Challenge swept past United Internet Team Germany.
Alinghi wins 2-0
Alinghi proved its mettle on this day, showing why the defender of the America's Cup must still be considered the team to beat. The Swiss swept past Luna Rossa Challenge with two consecutive victories to qualify for the final. In the first match, Alinghi took a small lead on Luna Rossa early on, but down both runs the Italians were looking very fast, making this a close race.
The second contest appeared to be well in hand for Luna Rossa when Alinghi started prematurely, but the Swiss closed the game up and on the final run, the Italians allowed the Swiss to separate to the other side of the race course. Alinghi found a favourable wind shift and when the boats converged just in front of the finish line, Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth had the lead - a tremendous win for the defender.
Series square 1-1
After the start the Americans found good breeze on the right to get back on level terms with New Zealand. There were a number of close crosses until the Kiwis looked to tack straight back at the Americans in a very aggressive move to control the right. A luffing match ensued but USA 87 started moving much quicker than NZL 84. The Kiwis kept the match tight for a while, but lost ground on the final run and finished 33 seconds behind. In the second contest, BMW ORACLE Racing found a nice left shift after the start to take a small lead around the top, but Emirates Team New Zealand made a passing move on the second upwind leg when they found better wind on the right side of the course. The final run was tense, with BMW ORACLE closing right up, but Kiwi skipper Dean Barker protected his position well and conserved the win.
Series square 1-1
Shosholoza won its first match over Desafío Español on the final run after initially losing the lead. A poor gybe aboard RSA 83 had allowed the Spanish to cruise past their opponents who were slow to get the gennaker setting. However, Tommaso Chieffi steered the South African boat very deep inside the Spanish line, and when it was time to gybe for the finish RSA 83 was ready to pounce. South Africa rolled over the top of the Spanish and took the match by just 4 seconds. The South Africans initially held the lead after the start in the second match but Desafío Español found a nice shift on the right which allowed them to lead at the first mark, and converted the early advantage into a win.
Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team wins 2-0 * protest pending
Victory Challenge was in trouble in both the pre-starts and never recovered. In the first start, they were shut outside the Race Committee boat and by the time they started, Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia was well ahead. In the second match, the Swedes were over the start line early allowing the Italians to build a lead they would never relinquish. Victory Challenge has lodged a protest that will be heard this evening.
Areva Challenge wins 2-0
The French Areva Challenge swept past China Team, who has yet to win a match race this season. But China Team skipper Pierre Mas made life difficult for his counterpart Thierry Peponnet, clearly winning the start in the second race and leading up much of the first beat. But in the end, the class of the French team shone through; they advance to the final where they'll meet +39 Challenge.
+39 Challenge wins 2-0
Iain Percy's +39 Challenge won both matches over United Internet Team Germany without too much bother to advance to the final. The Germans narrowly won the first start, but that advantage was soon overcome. In the second match, +39 picked its way up the first beat well, finding all the right windshifts to take a handy lead that was never threatened.