Update from Valencia
Big day today. Two flights with a nice 10-12 knot sea breeze. The big match of the day was the battle of the Louis Vuitton Cup leaders, Luna Rossa and BMW Oracle. This match was run in the first flight. The boats crossed the starting line pretty evenly, both on starboard tack, but with Luna Rossa to windward. Luna Rossa eked out a small advantage on a long starboard tack drag race and protected the right the rest of the beat to the first mark. On the run the boats seemed very even but BMW Oracle was able to sail a bit lower and get into a threatening position as the lay line approached. This forced Luna Rossa to gybe early, before the lay line to either end of the gate and BMW Oracle decided to cross behind Luna Rossa and set up for an inside position on the left hand (looking downwind) gate mark and with starboard tack advantage as well. Shortly before the gate, Luna Rossa gybed to port and attempted to cross but BMW Oracle was too far advanced and Luna Rossa was forced to gybe back and take the right hand gate while BMW Oracle gybed and took the left gate. This allowed BMW to get to the favored side up wind and that was pretty much it. The boats seemed very close in speed and it was a case of the boat who makes the last mistake loses. These two teams may not see each other for a month if there are to meet again in the Louis Vuitton Cup finals.
The other big news of the day was that Mascalzone Latino had their win over Desafio taken away last night by the jury for an illegal use of the backstay. The infringement came as Mascalzone reattached its upper backstay on the second windward leg of the race on Wednesday. The rules state that you can race with the upper backstay detached from the runner block or attached, but you can not change it once the race starts. The jury can award penalties in varying scope anywhere from nothing to a fine to disqualification. In this case they mandated a resail which will most likely be done tomorrow after flight 7. There is only one flight scheduled tomorrow. This race is do or die for Mascalzone to stay alive in the battle with Desafio and Victory Challenge for the 4th spot in the semi-finals.
Team New Zealand has been quietly winning races and is just one point behind Luna Rossa and BMW Oracle.
Luna Rossa, Team New Zealand and BMW Oracle are virtually assured a place in the semi-finals. The picture on who the fourth team is, is going to start becoming clear quickly. In less than a week, seven of the 12 teams will be out of this America’s Cup.