On the fifth day, they raced. Following four difficult days where racing was postponed due to a lack of wind, the Louis Vuitton Cup started on Friday with Flights 1 and 2. The Italian Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team were the early heroes, beating the top ranked challenger, Emirates Team New Zealand in Flight 1. The Italians won their second match as well, to vault up the leaderboard.
Racing took place in light conditions with winds between six and 10 knots. Before racing, the challengers agreed to change the schedule for the remainder of the Louis Vuitton Cup in order to make up for the lost days. Flights in Round Robin One will be sailed in order, and completed, before the beginning of Round Robin Two. Thus, Friday will see Flights 3 and 4 on the schedule.
Racing started on time on the south course where BMW ORACLE Racing and Luna Rossa scored predictable wins respectively over United Internet Team Germany and China Team.
The closest race down south was between evenly matched Victory Challenge and Team Shosholoza. Paolo Cian at the helm of the South African boat won the start causing Victory Challenge to tack away. Victory was bounced out to the starboard layline by Shosholoza but the two boats remained neck and neck up the beat, with Victory just managing to hold on to round the top mark 16 seconds ahead. Despite the South Africans remaining close the Swedish team were able to extend, particularly down the final run, to win by 46 seconds.
The biggest upset came on the north course. In the match between Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team and Emirates Team New Zealand, the Italians benefited from choosing the right side of the course out of the start and quickly pulled ahead. Dean Barker and his crew were unable to challenge them on the first beat with the Italians rounding the top mark 19 seconds ahead. The Kiwis appeared to have a small speed edge on the run, reaching the leeward gate on the transom of Mascalzone Latino, but Vasco Vascotto and team sailed their own race for the next two legs and led Emirates Team New Zealand across the finish line ahead by just 15 seconds, earning a tremendous victory for the Italians.
While there was no overturning of the form book as there was in Flight 1, Team Shosholoza entered the history books, putting South Africa’s first ever point on a Louis Vuitton Cup scoreboard when they led United Internet Team Germany around the race track to win by a comfortable 1:10.
BMW ORACLE Racing’s match against China Team was decidedly one sided, Chris Dickson and his crew leading Pierre Mas’ Franco-Chinese team from the start, and going on to finish 4:36 ahead.
The margin was not so large for the match between Victory Challenge and James Spithill’s crew on board Luna Rossa. Magnus Holmberg at the helm of the Swedish entry got the better of Spithill in the start and was able to keep his boat ahead for much of the first beat. But eventually, the speed of Luna Rossa prevailed, the Italian team getting another two points on the board, finishing ahead by 1:07.
The most aggressive pre-start of the day was when Desafío Español 2007 flew into the pre-start box and straight into the losing end of a port-starboard incident with +39. However the Spanish led out of the start and with their better boat speed had pulled out a large enough lead to carry out their penalty turn before rounding the top mark, without losing their lead. +39 tried valiantly but the Spanish extended as the wind went light on the final run to cross the line 2:45 ahead.
Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team proved again that their ITA 99 has pace. While skipper Vasco Vascotto kept it close in their match with the French Areva Challenge team, they were barely challenged and crossed the finish 1:41 ahead, and scoring their second win of the day.