It is all on! That is the good news for everyone who is interested in the Cup. What a difference a day can make. 9-10 knots of wind and a much smooth sea seemed to be better for the flat bottomed Kiwi boat.
New Zealand is not about to lie down. Yesterday at this time, everyone was speculating on a 5-0 sweep by Alinghi. Did this get into the heads of the Swiss?
The first part of today’s race was disappointing for the Kiwis. After another great start by Dean Barker and a handy 20 meter lead, the Kiwis watched hopelessly as the lead evaporated and they were forced to tack away. Alinghi looked all set to go up 2-0 with a nice lead at the first mark. Then it looked to me that Alinghi chose the unfavored part of the gate and lost 35 meters in 1 minute. This opened up the race once again and New Zealand tactician Terry Hutchinson played his cards masterfully on the second windward leg and took a narrow lead at the second windward mark. A lead that they would not relinquish by carefully positioning their boat between Alinghi and the finish line. Differently than yesterday, Alinghi did not look so strong downwind, in fact, Team New Zealand gained on the final run to the finish.
So this series is very much alive. Wil this loss cause some reconsiderations within Alinghi? For sure being the defender and being such heavy favorites is not helping with the momentum starts to go in the opposite direction. This will test the experience of the Swiss.
Today was the first time in 17 America’s Cup finals races that Brad Butterworth and his teammates, who have been together since 1995, have lost a race. A streak of all time. What does the future hold? Tuesday will be interesting. That much is for sure.