A defining day. Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand win. Are they going to be the LVC finalists? It is starting to look that way.
After an even start, Dickson’s best so far, the Italians carved out a 20 meter lead after a long port tack to the right side of the course, with BMW Oracle to leeward and ahead, but not enough ahead. The boats looked very even through this phase of the race. Then Luna Rossa, with surgical precision of ‘Jesse James’ Spithill on the helm, pushed BMW Oracle over the right layline through a series of tacks and that was about all she wrote for the boat with USA on its sails but no American flag anywhere in sight. Not on the boat, not at the base.
With a 60 meter lead at the leeward gate, and heading out to the favored right side, Luna Rossa gave all of its fans a bit of a heart tremor by letting BMW Oracle split out to the left on the second windward leg. A new record for separation was set; 2780 meters or 1.6 miles! A one degree shift in BMW’s favour would have been all that was required to take the lead. Luckily for the Italians, they came back together near the top of the leg having gained 50 meters. For those of us used to match racing, we were scratching our heads. Was it really necessary to split 1.5 miles when you have proven to have a boat that is at least as fast as your opponent, and you have the lead, and you have the favored side? Isn’t it possible to stay within the same time zone as your opponent? Do you get more points for winning by 150 meters instead of 50?
Anyway, I guess we just have to get used to this style of sailing from Luna Rossa. The same thing happened in race two on Tuesday, but it cost the Italians the race.
One interesting thing about BMW Oracle, after Tuesday’s serious starting lesson at the hands of Spithill, Dickson put a larger rudder in his boat. Now with the added wetted surface, the American boat seems slower downwind which was their point of strength in the first two races.
In the other match, Team New Zealand had a slightly better start than the Spanish and slowly built a lead up the first beat. They matched and marked every move of their opponents, and that was that. Here too, these two boats are pretty evenly matched in speed. He who wins the start, wins the race 95% of the time.
So we are 3 to 1 in each of the semi final matches. Thing are getting tight for the teams with just one point. The odds are going against them. Can they change something? Are they going to come out with something special tomorrow. We will have to wait and see.