Friday, February 12, 2010

America's Cup 33 Race One....what drama!

It may have been a long wait but what a race! BMW Oracle's skipper James Spithill came into the start area gunning for Alinghi, who failed to tack in time to avoid a penalty. The two craft continued their duel until, one minute before the start, both were over the start line and it became clear that BMW Oracle were stalled. Alinghi bore away, picked up speed and crossed the start line 87 seconds ahead of the US boat.

BMW Oracle started 660 metres behind Alinghi, who were tearing away at 16 to 17 knots in a 5.5 knot southerly breeze. The US boat began to pick up speed and was soon pointing higher and moving just as fast as the Swiss defender. After 20 minutes of racing, BMW Oracle had reduced the lead to zero and, in a surprising move dropped their headsail, showing that their revolutionary wing mast was capable of generating enough power alone.

By the windward mark, BMW Oracle was ahead by over 1,300 metres. Alinghi was expected to be faster off the wind and the only question was, would the penalty turn she had to take slow her enough for the US boat to hold onto her lead. It soon became clear that, although much heavier, BMW Oracle generated enough power to increase her lead until the finish, where she crossed 3,500 meters and 6 minutes ahead of Alinghi, who still had to complete their penalty turn.

What was especially interesting was that both Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts, who were jointly responsible for putting the whole challenge together, chose not to be aboard BMW Oracle today. Their opponents Ernesto Bertarelli and Brad Butterworth performed their helmsman/tactician roles as usual.
Mike O’Neill

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