Neglebiter uten like i Valencia!
Neglebiter uten like i Valencia!

Neglebiter uten like i Valencia!

I en seilas der ledelsen skiftet flere ganger og lederen unnlot å dekke konkurrenten i kritiske øyeblikk vant til slutt Team New Zealand med 25 meter.

Publisert

Dagens høydramatiske America´s Cup seilas etterlater mange spørsmål om de taktiske disposisjoner hos Alinghi som først, etter å ha vunnet starten og tatt en tidlig ledelse, lot TNZ gå alene på høyresiden der de fikk en gunstig vindkantring og overtok teten. Alinghi havnet i et vindhull og TNZ hadde på det meste en ledelse på mer enn 300 meter. Ved runding var TNZ hele 1.23 foran.

Alinghi kom stadig innpå på lensen med friskere vind aktenfra og ved runding var ledelsen redusert til 1.02. TNZ hadde store probemer i rundingen der fordekksmannen var nær ved å falle i vannet og med nød og neppe klarte å dra seg omord igjen. Spinnakeren ble hengende fast i hjørnet på genuaen og hemmet TNZ tydelig. Nå var det Alinghi som var heldig med vindkantringene og da båtene nærmet seg merket var det Alinghi som hadde initiativet. En stund så det ut som om den sveitiske båten skulle lykkes i å kjøre konkurrenten ut over styrbord layline, men TNZ skle frem og tvang Alinghi til å slå over til venstre. Alinghi slo nå fra babord layline og greide å krysse foran TNZ. Ved merket rundet Alinghi 15 sekunder foran.

Nå fulgte en uhyre dramatiske lens der sparasjonen mellom båtene på det meste var mer enn en kilometer. Hvorfor Alinghi unnlot å dekke skal det bli spennende å få en forklaring på, og utfallet av seilasen ble nå helt avhengig av hvem som hadde mest trykk på sin banehalvdel. Mot slutten skiftet ledelsen flere ganger og først på de siste metrene mot mål ble det klart at TNZ ville vinne seilasen. Kun 25 meter skilte i mål. 2-1 til TNZ.

Igjen en seilas der båtfarten spilte en mindre rolle. Vinneren var den som som best ut av vindkantringene, og som fikk kapitalisere på den ettersom konkurrenten fravek alt som står i bøkene om matchseiling og å holde seg mellom konkurrenten og det neste merket (eller mål).

For annen gang har Alinghis taktiker Brad Butterworth misset og magien som var knyttet til hans America´s Cup prestasjoner er i ferd med å forsvinne.

Den 32´America´s Cup er blitt adskillig mer spennende enn antatt på forhånd. Drømmesenariet blir nå om det går til 4-4 og at den niende seilasen vil avgjøre det hele.

Les Gary Jobson’s America’s Cup Report--Race 3

    This America’s Cup just keeps getting better, and more

interesting.  Today’s contest was a race of emotions for

the 34 sailors on the two yachts.  The lead changes were

frequent and dramatic.  This was one of the best races

in the 156 year history of the America’s Cup.  And we are

a long, long way from deciding the winner. 

    Both teams were at times brilliant, and at other times

sloppy.  In the 6.5 to 9.2 knot wind range, there was little

speed difference, upwind or downwind, between these boats.

The waves out on the race course were huge, confused and

nasty.  It was a tough day for the helmsman.   At one point

on the first windward leg Alinghi’s helmsman Ed Baird looked

over his shoulder at Emirates Team New Zealand surging

into a big lead and uttered (expletive deleted) and thrust

his head down.  He looked mighty frustrated.  Not a good

thing so early in a race that promised a lot of wind changes.

Alinghi’s superstar tactician, Brad Butterworth, calmed

Baird down and the team went to work.

    At the first mark NZ was comfortably in the lead.  Tactician

Terry Hutchinson had the difficult problem of deciding

when to cover and when to play the shifts.  It was not

an easy day to figure it out.  Alinghi slowly chipped away

at NZ’s lead.  Baird regained his composure.  In contrast,

over on NZ two grinders were seen laughing.  This is always

a bad omen in any sport.  Things happened when you get

giddy with your good fortune.

 Approaching the leeward gate, the pole suddenly dropped

and bowman Jero Lomas briefly fell into the water.  Suddenly

the Kiwi crew looked all out of sync.  The rounding was

wide, the spinnaker got stuck in the lead changer, several

crew appeared out of position and Alinghi was coming on

fast.  Butterworth and company saw the mess and were ready

to pounce.

    As luck would have it the wind shifted to the left and

just like that Alinghi was back in the race.  On board

the Silversea Whisper 350 guests were riveted by the action.

America’s Cup Hall of Fame tactician Steve Van Dyke, author

John Rousmaniere and I watched in amazement.  You could

here a pin drop.  But when one boat established a lead

the partisan crowd would cheer. (for the record the Kiwis

are louder on this boat than the Swiss).

    One mile from the windward mark Alinghi (on port) started

to dip NZ on (starboard).  Hutchinson called for a tack

to block Alinghi.  But the tack was made too early.  Baird

on Alinghi came right back up on the wind.  It was a reversal

of the key moment we saw in race two.   

    Butterworth wanted the left side of the course for the

final mile and used stronger winds to round ahead by three

lengths.   Now there was only 3.3 miles to go.  How could

NZ possibly catch up?  The giddy grinders no longer were

smiling.

    At first NZ sailed low to try to get SUI to cover.  But

the Kiwis started losing and the jibed.  Alinghi stretched

and then threw in their covering jibe.  Hutchinson called

for another jibe and NZ crossed behind toward the lay line.

Two miles to go and time was running out. 

    Alinghi kept sailing straight, obviously comfortable with

their 3 boat length lead.  Steve Van Dyke, mentioned that

it looked like a replay of the fateful Race 7 in 1983 when

Dennis Conner aboard Liberty split with the Australia II.

Everyone one on Silversea Whisper was leaning over the

rail.  Alinghi was sailing near our ship.  I could hear

several Swiss fans yelling “Cover!” But Butterworth sailed

on.  And then a miracle took place.   The wind on the leeward

side of the course filled in with more pressure.  NZ started

gaining.  It was Butterworth’s turn to decide whether to

cover or wait for a wind shift.  He waited. 

    The shift never arrived, NZ took the lead, and won by

two boat lengths.  Wow!  Now what? 

    Racing continues tomorrow.  Alinghi has to win 4 of the

next 6 races to retain the cup.  This regatta is very much

up for grabs.  From the way I see it the team that keeps

its cool will prevail.  Right now Ernesto Bertarelli has

to be wonder if dropping Russell Coutts from Alinghi’s

roster was a mistake.   With two loses in a row, the powerful

Alinghi looks like they are missing the tough experience

NZ gained in the challenger trials.  Tomorrow will be the

turning point.  I am going to watch with great interest.