Saturday, February 13, 2010

On-Site Report from Valencia...

Here is a report that just came in from Valencia from our very own Stephen Orsini...

The start was heaven then hell. Wind was 5 knots, maybe, and Alinghi sailed back and forth before the 10 minute gun lifting an alma with the Swiss boats chearing and ringing their cow bells. Bertarelli drove- a great help to USA 17. USA just marked time sailing back and forth slowly under wing only. Just before the 10 minute gun LarryE got of and shortly after two crew dove overboard to lighten the load.

At just after the 5 minute gun but after pulling down the genoa - interesting - 17 unrolled a jib spun into a turn with an alma high in the air- the BMWOracle fans exploded in cheers.

In a coin flip last Sunday,USA 17 won the advantaged starboard entry. At about 3 minutes both boats entered aiming right at each other woth a closing speed of 40 knots. Alinghi on burdened port tact was like a deer in the headlights, not bearing up or away. Spithill had to put the helm hard up in a ripping starboard turn. The jib was instantly furled and the protest flag went up on her stern. Seconds later the judges awarded her a blue flag hanging a penalty on Alinghi. The two boats sat in the dial-up for a very long time- Ainghi to leward. Both boats were on course side. About 30 seconds pre-start, Alinghi boar off to port circling back toward the start line. 17 did not move. She was in irons hard. At the gun, Alinghi made a near perfect start just passng astern of 17 - hardly moving. While Alinghi sprinted up the course, 17 finally got enough steerage to bear of and wadled, like an albatros struggling on land, back toward the line. Alinghi was 500 meters ahead when the albatros got the all clear flag and turned up wind and she was transformed to her elements of wind and water and she took glorious flight. The 68 meter wing took hold, windward alma and center hull came off the sea. Her bows went down and she flew forward, a sea hawk with a terrifying eye fixed on the hapless unsuspecting gull ahead.

In 6-8 knots these birds flew about 20 but 17 consistently held a 1 to 4 knot advantage. 17 caught her prey half way to the weather mark. She furlled the jib and sailed markedly higher and a bit faster without it. She rounded the weather mark cleanly ahead and her rounding was efficient. Alinghi in reading a genoa for down wind dropping her raised alma slowing her well begore the mark.

Downwind, the rest is history with a lead that was as high as 2800 meters.

The Cup is coming home.

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