Update from Valencia

The big match of the day was Mascalzone vs. Shosholoza and they did not disappoint. In a toughly fought pre-start Paolo Cain, the helmsman of Shosholoza, was able to get a penalty on Mascalzone which ultimately made the difference in this close race.

Mascalzone won the start and held the lead the entire race, sometimes opening up a lead of 150 meters which made some spectators think they would execute the penalty turn then and there, and keep the lead. However, the wind was on the lighter side, 9 or 10 knots, and it was quite shifty, so the amount of lead was never solid. Mascalzone waited until the finish line to make the penalty turn and they did not have enough of a lead to cross the line first, so the win went to Shosholoza. Mascalzone was eliminated from the semi-finals at that moment.

It is interesting to see the different techniques used for the penalty turns on the finish line.

+39 has authored the “staysail” turn where, after dropping the gennaker, the boat luffs into the wind with the staysail up (but rolled), so no windage. Once the boat crosses through the eye of the wind, they unfurl the staysail and use it to pull the bow down and across the line.

Today, Mascalzone went with the traditional genoa up, spinnaker down, luff up and tack technique. One could see the boat laboring to luff into the wind, with the genoa trimmed in and the main not in quite enough. Did this make the difference? I think the staysail would have worked better today.

Another interesting thing is that most teams are rounding the starting mark in doing the penalty. To me, this takes too much space. I would prefer to do the turn just above the line, away from the buoy so as not to have to worry about hitting that too. Of course, by rounding the buoy, you have protection from an oncoming starboard tack boat by way of Rule 18…room at the mark. Anyway, nothing is conclusive yet and it is interesting watching the teams figure out the best technique.

There were no surprises in the other matches: BMW Oracle beat +39, Victory beat Areva, Team New Zealand defeated China and Desafio continued their march into the semis by defeating Germany. Luna Rossa had a bye.

Tomorrow’s big matches are: Luna Rossa vs. Team New Zealand and Victory vs. Desafio. A win by Desafio will put them into the semis and Victory out. A win by Team New Zealand over Luna Rossa will most likely allow the final race of Team New Zealand vs. BMW Oracle to be the decider as to who wins the round robins and therefore, who gets to pick their opponent in the semi-finals.