Emirates Team NZ...finally

After competition goes 2-1 against Alinghi in Act 12 final

Sunday July 2nd 2006, Author: Peter Rusch, Location: none selected
Emirates Team New Zealand won a 'winner take all' match over Alinghi on Sunday afternoon on the waters off Valencia to win Louis Vuitton Act 12 and claim the 2006 ACC Season Championship.

The ultimate duel was set-up by Alinghi winning the first race this afternoon, squaring the final at 1-1, and forcing the deciding third race. The teams were surrounded by an enormous spectator fleet who cheered every tack and gybe. Conditions were ideal for racing again with a moderate sea breeze generated by the sunny skies.

After its win on the water, Emirates Team New Zealand returned to the Port America's Cup where it was scheduled to be presented with the Louis Vuitton Act 12 trophy by Rita Barberá, the Mayoress of Valencia, along with the 2006 ACC Season Championship trophy, from Yves Carcelle, the President and CEO of Louis Vuitton. The prize-giving ceremony was scheduled to take place in the public America's Cup Park, a crowded venue on a sunny Sunday evening in Valencia.

Race One

Emirates Team New Zealand earned its lead with a bold move in the pre-start. With under a minute to go, Kiwi skipper Dean Barker tacked and passed behind his opponent, switching sides to take the right side of the line near the Race Committee boat. While this meant he started downspeed and behind Alinghi, it was clearly the favoured side and within moments, it was clear this was a winning move.

Emirates converted that small advantage into a slim lead, but Alinghi was very close behind for the entire first lap of the race course. In fact, rounding the second windward mark the Swiss had never trailed by more than nine-seconds.

The Kiwis didn't feel comfortable with Alinghi so close on the run and gybed to the left side of the race course. When the boats converged again a few minutes later, Alinghi roared in at full speed on starboard gybe, pressuring the Kiwis who tried to gybe directly in front. But the manoeuvre was poorly executed and Alinghi passed NZL 84 to leeward, holding on to win the race.

Desafío Español swept past Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia in a match that saw the Italians punished for some poor crew manoeuvres. Trailing the Spanish around the first top mark the Italians hoisted a spinnaker with a tight wrap in it. They couldn't free the hour-glassed shaped sail and were forced to drop it to the deck to clear the tangle. But the sail got caught in the water, slowing the boat further. Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia eventually set another sail, but the damage was done and Desafío Español raced away for the win and a 2-0 sweep of the series to claim fifth place in Louis Vuitton Act 12.

Victory Challenge extended its petit final match against Shosholoza with a well fought win over Shosholoza. The South Africans trailed around the second top mark by just eight-seconds and Shosholoza was able to split away from Victory Challenge to make some gains in the middle of the run. But Victory Challenge protected well, and held on for the win to extend the series. Both boats finished with red protest flags flying. An earlier attempt to start the match was abandoned seconds after the start gun after some apparent irregularities in signaling a premature start.

Race Two

Both Emirates Team New Zealand and Alinghi hit the starting line at the gun with speed but it was the Kiwis on the left who made the first gain with a nice lift. Emirates crossed ahead and switched sides twice on this beat, attempting to pick the best windshifts and lanes of pressure. The Kiwis eventually found they couldn't cross ahead of a starboard tack Alinghi, but tacked just below them and squeezed up on the layline directly in front of the Swiss. The Kiwis would carry a slim 12-second lead around the mark.

On the run, Emirates wasn't too bothered by Alinghi who attempted to sail high to roll over the Kiwis. But Dean Barker didn't bite and sailed low. Alinghi was too far back to affect the New Zealanders who extended the rest of the way around the race course for the win.

Victory Challenge won this race in the pre-start when Shosholoza found itself completely stalled coming out of a very long dial-up. With both boats falling onto port tack well to leeward of the starting line, the Swedes were able to accelerate and tack for the line, while the South African helmsman threw his hands in the air in frustration. By the time Shosholoza started, the Swedes were 100 metres ahead.

But Shosholoza fought its way back into this race, and Victory Challenge could never extend enough to relax. On the beat Shosholoza appeared to have closed the gap, but a nice tactical move by the Swedes to force the South Africans into two extra tack re-established the lead. Victory Challenge went on to win the race and secure seventh place in Louis Vuitton Act 12.

Post-race Emirates Team NZ head Grant Dalton commented: “We went out today to win the regatta; winning top yacht for the year is a bonus. The team now has a very solid foundation to build on for the Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup in 2007. Match racing at this level is all about two evenly-matched boats and crews fighting to the finish. We have seen a lot of that during this regatta. Any mistake or gear failure is heavily punished. That’s what happened today in the first match. SUI 75 was never more than a couple of heartbeats astern of us and that’s an uncomfortable position to be in. They saw their chance on the last run and took it.”

Ernesto Bertarelli gave his views on Act 12 and what's next for the America's Cup defender: “The format this time is much better than in the past. I think we have learnt something for the event, that this format with a round robin and the best teams ending up sailing a semi final and a final, gives some very good, close racing. We are looking forward to 2007. It is going to be a long year of testing, getting ready and building up the two in-house racing teams so that we can get to the level required to win the America’s Cup again next year. To win the AC, you are always looking at two things. One is speed: you want to have the fastest boat. And two: you want to have the best crew, so it is crew work, starts and manoeuvres that are going to win you the America’s Cup.”

Brad Butterworth added: “There are a lot of things that we can do better. It was close, but it came down to the end race and it would have been nice to do a better job all-round. The crew did a good job, they sailed very well, but overall we did miss a little bit of race preparation and that was the telling thing at the end. I think we can take a positive out of the fact that we made the final and as the defender we have got a bit on against the other teams. If you talk about positives, you’d say well we were sailing a 2002/2003 generation boat here in 2006 and we made the final. Out of five or six new boats, we made the final. But there is no excuse for not winning and we know we should have sailed better today, it didn’t quite work out.”


Division One
Team Name Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Total
Emirates Team New Zealand 1 (0:17) 0 1 (1:24) 2
Alinghi 0 1 (0:24)   1
BMW ORACLE Racing  1 1**   2
Luna Rossa Challenge - -   0
** BMW ORACLE Racing are awarded one point of redress and win the petit final for third place in Louis Vuitton Act 12
Division Two
Team Name Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Total
Desafío Español  1 (0:19) 1 (1:29)   2
Mascalzone Latino Capitalia  0     0
Shosholoza 1 (0:33) 0   1
Victory Challenge 0 1 (0:13) 1 (0:45) 2
Division Three
Team Name Race 1 Race 2 Race 3 Total
Areva Challenge 1 1 (0:01) - 2
+39 Challenge 0 DNF 0 - 0
Areva Challenge wins 2-0, and finishes Louis Vuitton Act 12 in 9thplace. +39 Challenge is 10th.
China Team  0 0 - 2
United Internet Team Germany 1 (1:34) 1 (7:00) - 0
United Internet Team Germany wins 2-0, and finishes Louis Vuitton Act 12 in 11th place. China Team is 12th.

Act 12 standings:

1 Emirates Team New Zealand
2 Alinghi
4 Luna Rossa Challenge
5 Desafío Español 2007
6 Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia
7 Victory Challenge
8 Shosholoza
9 Areva Challenge
10 +39 Challenge
11 United internet Team Germany
12 China Team

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