Alinghi in 2nd Place After Day 1 Fleet Racing
The first fleet race for Act 3 got underway at 12:40pm in SW 15 knots of breeze. Racing took place on the same course as Act 2 with a few changes including roundings to port and an offset mark, or "dog leg" a few hundred meters from the windward mark to keep the boats rounding first separate from the rest of the fleet coming up the beat. At the end of Day 1, Emirates Team New Zealand is in first place with 15 points; Alinghi in second with 13 points; and Luna Rossa in third with 11 points.
Race 1 challenged the fleet with a tricky breeze that varied between 6-15 knots. The line jostling at the start saw the fleet in a fairly even cross head out on starboard, with three boats quickly tacking to the right splitting the fleet into two. Alinghi kept pace with the leaders, edging out farthest right of the left hand pack after a solid start. Converging on the first mark together, BMW ORACLE Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand squeezed round first and went off on split jibes. The rest of the fleet rounded very quickly together, Le Defi protested Alinghi for not responding quick enough as the French luffed the Swiss but the umpires denied the protest. After trailing the fleet since the start, Luna Rossa got back into the race on the first run benefiting from a dramatic wind shift to enter the leeward gate first into the second mark.
The Kiwis shot out on their own on the second beat, quickly gaining 20+ boat lengths stretching to almost 40 lengths by the second windward mark, destroying the rest of the fleet. The boats spread out across the entire course making it hard to determine the favoured side. Emirates Team New Zealand finished first with an exciting fight for the next three places. Le Defi bounced Luna Rossaoff with a slick starboard jibe to slide by the Italian team by a quarter of a boat length; Luna Rossa likewise put in a jibe with good speed to cross just in front of Alinghi. K-Challenge blew out their kite 500 meters before the finish to let the South Africans slip by and win their first point. The Kiwis won by 4:27.
The left side was favoured at the start and up the first beat, the breeze blew even across the course at about 12 knots. Shosholoza took the start nicely, but Alinghi lead the charge up the first beat in the middle of the course where there were more options in today's fickle breeze. Luna Rossa and Le Defi were in close pursuit. BMW ORACLE sailed clear to the back of the fleet after taking a 270 penalty turn at the start. Alinghi blew a kite leading around the first mark and impressively hoisted another very quickly to maintain their lead on Emirates Team New Zealand. Simultaneously +39 blew their spinnaker halyard losing much ground in the recovery. Alinghi led into the first weather mark, followed closely by the Kiwis. The breeze dropped to not more than 2 knots on the final run and the fleet squeaked over the finish just inside of the 40 minute limit within which legs must be sailed. Alinghi held 7 lengths advantage over the Kiwis down the last run, both having dropped their spinnakers and sailing under jib. An exciting finish saw Alinghi win by just two seconds over the Kiwis, and K-Challenge finishing 24 seconds after the Swiss team.
Emirates Team NZ - 15 points Team Alinghi - 13 points Luna Rossa - 11 points Le Defi - 9 points BMW Racing Oracle - 7 points K-Challenge - 7 points Shosholoza - 6 points +39 - 4 points
Yves Detrey, runner: "The worst part of the day was when we broke the spinnaker when we were ahead. Team New Zealand was very close. If you can get a spinnaker up quickly you know you have a chance to save the race. If you can't get a spinnaker up quick enough, it's usually because you're not prepared."
Curtis Blewett, mid bow/sewer: "From my place on the boat, we were happy we were able to get the spinnaker up as quickly as we did. We had a back up one on the deck so were able to get that up and not lose too much and hang onto the lead against Team New Zealand."
The Alinghi Team flies the Swiss flag and carries the colours of the Société Nautique de Genève. Its partners for the 2007 campaign are UBS, Infonet, Audemars Piguet, SGS, Nespresso, North Sails and MSC Cruises.