Challengers USA BMW Oracle Racing need just ONE more race win to bring the America's Cup home where it belongs!!
Surprising all who expected no pre-race *fighting* for position on the starting line, Jim Spithill & crew came out with cannons blazing and forced a penalty out of Alinghi 5 within 1 minute of entering the pre-start area!
While waiting for conditions to improve and race officials to give the final go ahead, Team Alinghi proceeded to sail around the area showing off some of what their gigantic catamaran could do, while the USA team watched somewhat quietly. However, when the horn went off signaling time to enter the pre-start area, the USA BMW Oracle crew showed the guts & gumption for which Helmsman, Jim Spithill is is well known. He took full advantage of starboard tack right-of-way to which port entering Alinghi must avoid contact or forcing a change of direction. Coming way closer to the USA yacht than anyone hoped to see, Alinghi finally bore off, but not before a penalty flag was waved by the American yacht and answered shortly thereafter by the referees as a valid penalty. The ensuing penalty forced the Alinghi 5 team to do a 270 degree penalty turn sometime before crossing the finish line. Shifting wind forced both yachts past the starting line with approximately 30 seconds to get back to recross the starting line to begin the race. Shifting winds and a mistake by our daring Helmsman caused their huge behemoth to stall flat dead in the water. Meanwhile, Alinghi 5 quickly recovered and was able to cross the starting line with the horn to start. The USA yacht sat there, while I personally wanted to attach a large weight to the Alinghi yacht as Spithill & crew fought to get the trimaran moving and back across the starting line to turn and actually START the race. Approximately 1 minute was lost while crew members struggled to get the huge trimaran moving and back across the starting line.
Down the upwind leg flew Alinghi 5 gaining almost a 600 meter head start as the USA yacht finally started to pick up speed and begin the chase to hopefully catch Alinghi 5. They talked about the swan (Alinghi) and the hawk (USA), I think we were more like an Eagle, powerful and strong. Off went our boys chasing the swiftly advancing Swiss. The USA crew performed quickly and efficiently, sailing on one hull and flying the other two, they set out to catch and pass Alinghi before the top mark of the 20 mile upwind leg. It was absolutely awesome to watch these HUGE behemoths literally flying towards the top mark with what appeared to be little ants scurrying around each surface. The size of these yachts is almost unbelievable until you actually are able to SEE them. By approximately half way up the 20 mile upwind leg, USA BWM Oracle caught and passed the Swiss catamaran and never looked back. By the time our Eagle rounded the top mark, they were over 1000m ahead of the Swan and the distance just kept increasing. The USA crossed the finish line sailing beautifully, truly a historic sight to see, about 4500m ahead of the Swiss catamaran.
Following the Swiss yacht for most of the race was the referee boat flashing it's blue beacon light above the tarp cover letting the crew know they still had their penalty turn to do. Coming up quickly on the finish line, Alinghi seemed all of a sudden to remember they needed to do their required penalty turn, by this time, doing their turn took them across the finish line forcing them to have to recross back across the finish line, turn and recross the finish line. Needless to say, the USA BWM Oracle crew was ecstatic with their win. And I was silently screaming (to not wake up the whole house) with the joy of their victory!
"Race 1 figures : BOR av.speed UW 20,2 | DW 23,5 - Alinghi av. speed (with time taken & distance for penalty) UW 19,4 | DW 20,7"
Saturday was a day of *rest* from racing as the crews went through debriefing, and over strategies & improvements that could be made before Race 2, which is scheduled to be Sunday, February 14, 2010. Estimated start time as of this writing will be 12:00pm CET, local Valencia, Spain time. (6am EST, 3am PST, 2am AKST) Contrary to what was reported in my other article, the crews have changed their minds again... something quite prevalent in this 33rd America's Cup... and have gone back to the 3 race agenda. And contrary to earlier report, this race, which was to be the 3rd race if necessary, has changed to become Race 2. What this means is that Race 2 will be a triangle race of 39 miles. The change to this 13 mile reaching legs of the triangle course, the prospect of lighter breezes, and the change of correcting mistakes may give Alinghi hope, however, I think our Eagle is equal to the challenge.
In addressing the media after Race 1, USA Skipper Russell Coutts (NZL) as well as Ernesto Bertarelli (Swiss) warned that this America's Cup competition is far from over. If the USA team can win back the America's Cup it will be for the 1st time since Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes team lost 5-0 to New Zealand's famous Black Magic in San Diego in 1995 in America's Cup 29. (I happened to be in San Diego visiting my folks at this time, and got to see Stars & Stripes, the women's team, Black Magic, and some of the early racing for the Louis Vitton Cup) America's Cup 30, held in New Zealand made history being the 1st time the USA was unable to win the Cup back and it stayed with the Kiwis for a 2nd year. Cup 31 brought a huge change in crews and many of the Kiwis changed sides to sail for the Swiss, including Russell Coutts. This was the 1st America's Cup where the USA was NOT sailing as the Challenger in the finals. That honor was won after close races with Italy and Prada, the Italian team sailed in the finals against Alinghi and lost making Alinghi the 1st European syndicate to win the Cup. Cup 32 was held in Valencia, Spain, the venue chosen by the Swiss. Again, the Americans were unable to rally and the Cup stayed a 2nd year with the Swiss. Hopefully as Cup 33 continues, our boys will bring it home!
Race 1 saw a huge number of visitors on the www.americascup.com website. 356,604 unique visitors or computers logged onto the website during Friday, 90,000 visitors more than Monday the 8th. In terms of countries the USA accounted for 123,225, Italy second highest with 92,811, Switzerland with 80,889, and France with 65,981.
My guess is those numbers will increase for Race 2 and yours truly will be watching with barely contained excitement to see if Team USA BMW Oracle can take Race 2, or whether it will force a 3rd Race. If you have not yet taken a few moments to check out this racing action, please consider taking some time and checking this out as this is truly a historical event and you may never see the likes of yachts like these again.