America's Cup Semi Finals - Desafío Español 2007 and Luna Rossa Challenge are today's winners

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Source: www.americascup.com

May 15


Yesterday BMW ORACLE Racing earned one of the great comebacks in the 32nd America’s Cup, beating Luna Rossa Challenge after trailing by as much as 58 seconds at the first windward mark. The American team was 14 seconds behind at the beginning of the final run, but made a great pass down the left hand side of the race course, streaking past what appeared to be a slower Italian boat.

In the other pairing, Emirates Team New Zealand won the start off Desafío Español 2007 and extended away on the first upwind leg. The Spanish slowly gained the rest of the way, but never really threatened the comfortable Kiwi lead.

There were ideal sea breeze conditions on the waters off Valencia on Tuesday, with Easterly winds from 10 to 14 knots. A large spectator fleet enjoyed the action on a sunny afternoon.

America's Cup Semi Finals - Desafío Español 2007 and Luna Rossa Challenge are today's winners

Match 1 – Emirates Team New Zealand beat Desafío Español 2007
Emirates Team New Zealand enjoyed a pleasantly uncomplicated match against Desafío Español, with Dean Barker winning the start and taking a few early windshifts to steer NZL 92 to an early lead. By the first mark, the Kiwis were already leading by 1 minute 15 seconds. That would be the biggest delta of the match as the Spanish were fast downwind, making ground on both offwind legs to reduce the gap to 40 seconds by the finish. But never for a moment did the New Zealanders look seriously threatened, and now they are 2-0 up in the series.

Match 2 – BMW ORACLE Racing beat Luna Rossa Challenge
James Spithill took the fight to Chris Dickson in the pre-start and made it pay, taking Luna Rossa to an early lead off the starting line. Unlike yesterday’s match between these two, which was notable for big splits up the windward legs, Luna Rossa’s tactician Torben Grael kept a tighter game in the steadier, moderate onshore breezes for today’s racing.

At the first mark the Italian lead was a surprisingly large 58 seconds, but Dickson switched on the pace downwind, with USA 98 storming up behind ITA 94. By the leeward mark the gap was down to 20 seconds, with the Italians rounding the gate and heading off to the right and the Americans taking the left.

Up the next windward leg the match was very tight early, with Spithill only just hanging on to the lead. But then both teams were happy to diverge on opposite tacks, until at one point they were more than 1500 metres apart across the course. However when they came back together at the top of the course, there was nothing to choose between these two, and Dickson was so close that he was able to initiate a luffing match close to the top mark.

America's Cup Semi Finals - Desafío Español 2007 and Luna Rossa Challenge are today's winners

Spithill and his crew kept their nerve to tack around the mark first, just 14 seconds ahead of Dickson, but the American hoist was much smoother and USA 98 was poised to pounce. Grael decided to defend the right-hand side of the course, but it was the last weapon in his armoury as USA 98 again showed superior downwind speed to sail around and through the Italians’ cover to sneak across the finish line ahead, completing a stunning and crucial turnaround for BMW ORACLE Racing.


May 16


Today the home team, Desafío Español 2007, beat Emirates Team New Zealand on Wednesday for the first time in 10 tries at the 32nd America’s Cup. The Spanish team needed the victory – the result closes up the score in their best-of-nine Semi Final match to 2-1 with the Kiwis leading.

It was a convincing win, as helmsman Karol Jablonski put a penalty on the Emirates squad in the pre-start, before leading the Kiwi boat around the track, extending away on the second lap of the course for a tremendous win.

In the other match, Luna Rossa Challenge led of the starting line and sailed a tactically conservative match to beat BMW ORACLE Racing. The Italians led for the entire contest.

There were good sea breeze conditions on the waters off Port America’s Cup today, with a generous spectator fleet cheering on the Spanish team.

America's Cup Semi Finals - Desafío Español 2007 and Luna Rossa Challenge are today's winners

Match 1 – Desafío Español 2007 beat Emirates Team New Zealand
The Spanish came out all guns blazing, with Karol Jablonski sailing aggressively at Emirates Team New Zealand in the pre-start. The aggression was rewarded with a penalty against the Kiwis who the Umpires judged as having gybed too close to the Spanish boat. At start time both boats were fast off the line. Desafío Español had made a measurement change to ESP 97 overnight and the alteration seemed to pay off, with the Spanish able to match or even better the Kiwis for upwind pace.

The Spanish rounded 14 seconds ahead at the first mark, although the smoother gybing Kiwis reduced that gap to just 8 seconds at the leeward gate. A bit of a split developed up the final beat, but when the Kiwis returned from the left side of the course, they had fallen further behind and rounded 44 seconds in arrears at the final turning mark. The Spanish were never threatened after that, and by the time New Zealand had unwound the penalty at the finish line, the winning delta for Spain was 1 minute 14 seconds.

Match 2 – Luna Rossa Challenge beat BMW ORACLE Racing
James Spithill brought his usual aggressive pre-starting to bear against BMW ORACLE Racing today, and he had Chris Dickson on the ropes with less than a minute to go. It looked as though he could have pushed the American boat over the starting line early, but instead Luna Rossa went for a clean and fast start off the Race Committee boat end on port tack while Dickson struggled to squeeze the downspeed USA 98 across at the pin end on starboard tack.

These boats kept a much tighter match today than on previous days, but the gap at the first mark was still quite big, 29 seconds in Luna Rossa’s favour. As always, BMW ORACLE looked powerful downwind and reduced the gap to 24 seconds by the leeward gate. When the American boat broke for the left side of the final beat, Luna Rossa tacked to shadow their opponents, and didn’t allow the sort of massive separation to develop that we have seen on other days.

America's Cup Semi Finals - Desafío Español 2007 and Luna Rossa Challenge are today's winners

By the top mark, the Italians were 45 seconds ahead. Once again the American boat looked faster, and in a closer match a 14-second gain might have come to something. As it was, Luna Rossa refused to be flustered and the Italians sailed across the line 31 seconds ahead, to take the lead in this closely-fought series.


Semi Finals temporary ranking


Team

R1

R2

R3

R4

R5

R6

R7

R8

R9

Total

Emirates Team New Zealand

1

1

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

Desafio Espanol 2007

0

0

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

1


America's Cup Semi Finals - Desafío Español 2007 and Luna Rossa Challenge are today's winners

Team

R1

R2

R3

R4

R5

R6

R7

R8

R9

Total

BMW Oracle Racing

0

1

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

Luna Rossa Challenge

1

0

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

2


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