SAILING IN VALENCIA
Four America’s Cup teams entered the regatta: Alinghi, Desafío Español, Luna Rossa and Britain’s TEAMORIGIN, who were loaned Desafío’s second boat.
Race 1 Team Origin got off to a cracking start to the series, taking an early lead into the first mark, a lead they held until the finish. Alinghi seemed to be having some teething problems, as three spinnakers tore during gybing. Luna Rossa took advantage of the mayhem to slip by into second, with Alinghi third and Desafío Español fourth. Alinghi skipper Murray Ross vowed to watch video footage after the race to determine where the problems were.
Race 2 Despite an excellent start, TeamOrigin seemed to lack pace and soon Alinghi, followed by Desafío began to open up a lead which they held to the finish. Origin finished third, ahead of Luna Rossa, who suffered their worst race of the series.
Race 3 Racing got underway after a short postponement and it was Alinghi again ahead of Luna Rossa at the windward mark. Desafío had better upwind speed and finished ion third place, over 70 seconds ahead of Origin.
Race 4 Desafío had her best start of the series, with American Paul Cayard at the helm. Their early form deserted them as Alinghi and Luna Rossa both reached the windward mark ahead. Downwind, TeamOrigin chose the best gybe angles to close right up on the Spanish boat. At the end, Alinghi crossed just 30 seconds ahead of Luna Rossa, with Origin over 50 seconds ahead of Desafío.
Race 5 Racing was delayed until the light sea-breeze filled in at around 13.40. Luna Rossa crossed the line with excellent speed and reached the windward mark ahead of Alinghi. But Alinghi’s superior downwind speed pulled her ahead of the Italians as they came into the second mark. TeamOrigin were hard on Luna Rossa’s heels at this point but finished third once again, ahead of Desafío.
Race 6 The breeze picked up for the final race and Alinghi quickly showed her speed, leading comfortably at the first mark. v seemed to have better downwind speed than Desafío but, after rounding ahead at the leeward mark, a brief tacking duel left the British team floundering as Desafío sailed away from them. A faulty halyard sealed TeamOrigin’s fate on the final run and their spinnaker disappeared overboard. BY the time it had been recovered and set, Alinghi were claiming their fifth win of the series, followed by Luna Rossa and Desafío.
This was a good first series for the British and their skipper, Mike Sanderson was philosophical, saying: “the highlight for me was the team spirit onboard, a really special atmosphere”.
The final results were:
1. Alinghi (3-1-1-1-1-1), 8 points
©2008thisisvalencia/2008 Mike O'Neill
Sunday was the last day of this fun, three day event down at the Port. A good crowd turned up to watch and the atmosphere hummed with press and spectator side-by-side, eager to see whether the hot favourite (Peyron) would actually pull it off. With varying breeze and no-one taking a flyer to come storming up from the rear, Luc Dubois (Alinghi Red) sailed a good race to come in first, followed by Nicolas Charbonnier, who looks like a fun sort of guy, with Loïck Peyron (seven times winner of this event) in third place.
Claire Leroy (women's match racing world champion 2007/08) and her all woman crew suffered a capsize early in the first race and had to be brought back to shore. Looking shaken and disappointed there was some confusion as to what happened to the third crew member. The race continued but later we saw a stretcher being taken away by ambulance on the far shore. A press release from the organisers' office would have been good but nothing was forthcoming. We trust she is now fully recovered.
From years of sailing in The Solent the bliss of guaranteed sunshine and at least a bit of breeze made me yearn to be out there on the water. But after an extremely scary capsize on a Hobie Cat some years ago, perhaps a glass of wine in the safety of the press enclosure among sensible people was the way to go ... maybe ....
All in all it was a great event and, at the prize-giving, with a history of looking the wrong way at the right moment, I managed to get sprayed with champagne; a sticky end to an almost perfect day.
The winner, Alinghi Red, Luc Dubois
Racing got under way a little later than expected today, thanks to your reporter failing to check the up-dated programme!
Conditions were perfect with blue skies and a nice 8-10 km/h breeze. The first race was an out-of-harbour race won by Loïck Peyron, with Ed Baird in second and Nicolas Charbonnier third.
The remaining races (nine in total) are being held in the America's Cup Harbour, or Marina Juan Carlos 1 as it's now known, right in front of the Velas i Vents jetty. Race 2 went to Spanish sailor Fernando León, with Peyron second and Charbonnier third.
Race three was spoilt by the noise from a TV helicopter that hovered no more than 50m above our heads, drowning out the commentary provided by Sailing One, the event organizers. Luc Dubois led around the course, followed closely by Loïck Peyron. At the final turn, Peyron showed why he has won this event no less than seven times. Seeing Dubois about to lose his wind to an approaching boat, Peyron squeezed up for clear air and took the lead. Dubois fought back and managed to cross the line just one second ahead.
Claire Leroy who is World Women's Match-racing champion sailed an excellent race 4, leading at the final mark. In a surprise reversal of fortune, she lost out metres from the finish to Dubois, who was beginning to look a serious threat to Peyronís overall lead.
In a breathtaking display of sailing skill at the start of race 5, Loïck Peyron sailed below his slower competition until, almost touching the commentatorís box, tacked and crossed the entire fleet.
Fernando León tried a similar move in race 6 but found his way blocked. He raised both hands in disbelief when the umpires refused to issue penalties and finished a dejected 8th.
After six races, Loïck Peyron is just three points ahead of Luc Dubois, with the very consistent Nicolas Charbonnier in third. America's Cup Winner Ed Baird is tied in fourth place with León, who will be hoping to put today's disappointment out of his mind before tomorrow's final three races get under way.
It is difficult to convey just how quickly it all happens once the count-down begins. Five races had been started and finished within two hours this afternoon.
Racing starts tomorrow at 13.30 sharp. The final three races will be followed by the prizegiving at 15.00. Get there by 12.30 and you will be assured of a good viewing position.
ps Car-parking under the Velas i Vents building is free. So not only do you save yourself a walk, the car will be nice and cool when you come to drive home!
Sir Keith Mills(pictured above,proudly waving the Union Jack), head of LMG, the company that brought us Air Miles and Nectar Points, has announced a British challenge for the 33rd and 34th America’s Cup series.
TEAMORIGIN™ whose name is a reference both to Britain’s involvement in the creation of the America’s Cup in 1851 and to the creation of a new, fresh and innovative force in this sporting arena, is being formed by Sir Keith to build on Britain’s unprecedented yachting heritage. It follows in the wake of recent successes enjoyed by Skandia Team GBR, the British Olympic and Paralympic sailing team which has won more medals for Britain than any other sport in the last two Olympic Games, and the achievements of Britain’s numerous round-the-world ocean racing heroes.
Michel Bonnefous, CEO America’s Cup Management, said:
The launch, coming at this time, recognizes the importance of preparation for an event of this caliber. A decision regarding the location of the team’s base will be made in the next few months.