Opportunity lost for Luna Rossa today. Putting BMW Oracle behind 2-0 would have been a big step toward winning this semi final and the Italian boat seemingly had the job done. In the more competitive of the two semi finals, the young James Spithill of Luna Rossa shut out Chris Dickson of BMW Oracle at the start and the Italians sailed smoothly to a 58 second lead at the first windward mark. A sea breeze of 15 knots was in place for the first windward leg and in those conditions, everyone expected a fairly easy ride for Luna Rossa from there. However, Luna Rossa chose not to cover BMW Oracle on the first run and 230 meters of the 280 meter lead was eaten up and the American boat round the leeward gate just 50 meters behind. This put the American boat back in the race and in practicality, it all started again at that point.
Up the second windward leg, Luna Rossa again separated a large distance before tacking to converge more than one mile! When the two came together, there was just a two boat-length lead for Luna Rossa. A great move by James Spithill, defending against an attacking Dickson near the windward mark, preserved a 40 meter lead for the Italian boat. Down the final run, again the Italians split and BMW Oracle went from being behind by 40 meters, to a lead of 40 meters. A final attempt to cover the wind of the American boat failed and the BMW Oracle went on to take the win by 13 seconds.
It was more a case of Luna Rossa losing the race than BMW Oracle winning the race.
In the other match, Team New Zealand made easy work of the day by getting a significantly better start and gaining on the first windward leg. Then, in contrast to the style of the Italians, the Kiwis never split much from their opposition, even if they have a 300 meter lead. This series seems to be well in hand for the Kiwis.
This decidedly different style of sailing by the Italians has puzzled the media here and given huge anxiety to the Italian public following the race on television. Peter Isler, the American Navigator, explained their pleasant surprise at the style of the Italian’s lack of covering and acknowledged that the open water allowed them to make the most of a very bad situation after the first windward leg and make a huge gain on the run, certainly more of a gain than any boat speed difference would create.
One more set of races tomorrow, then Thursday is a lay day.