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33rd Americas Cup - Race 1

by 33rd America’s Cup media 12 Feb 2010 19:22 GMT 12 February 2010

First blood for USA

Challenger BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA) scored the vital first win in the best-of-three race series that is the 33rd America’s Cup off Valencia, Spain.

The American team, sailing under the flag of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, were quickly able to overturn an early mistake when they were caught flat footed on the wrong side of the start line.

Despite an initial deficit when they crossed the start line of 1 minute and 27 seconds, the trimaran USA, with its massive 68 metres wing sail were able to pass the Defender’s catamaran Alinghi 5 after around 15 minutes of the 20 miles windward leg.

BMW ORACLE Racing Team’s final Race 1 winning margin of 15 minutes and 28 seconds is the biggest in the history of the America’s Cup since the 27th edition in 1988, the last Deed of Gift match, when the USA’s catamaran Stars & Stripes won successive matches against New Zealand’s KZ 1 monohull by 18 mins 15 secs and 21 mins 10 secs.

It is the first time that double America’s Cup winners Alinghi have lost an America’s Cup match race since they were defeated by Emirates Team New Zealand on Monday 25th June 2007.

Then Alinghi went on to win three successive matches to retain the America’s Cup, but now Sunday’s scheduled second race, around the 39 miles Deed of Gift triangle course, of three 13 miles legs, becomes a ‘must win’ for the Defender’s crew.

USA lead at the first mark

By the windward turn of today’s race USA were 3 minutes and 21 seconds ahead and the black and white hulled trimaran broke the finish line in the growing dusk, to record a winning delta of 15 minutes and 28 seconds.

USA, with James Spithill (AUS) steering, managed to immediately inflict a penalty on the Swiss crew when Alinghi 5 entering with no right of way, could not cross ahead of the Challengers just after the entry into the start arena.

Starting at 1435hrs (local) in around 6-7 knots of southerly breeze, the heart stopping opening manoeuvres proved some of the best and worst of match-racing the giant multihulls. Conditions throughout were ideal for the historic first head to head match between the cutting edge, giant multihulls.

While USA were able to catch Alinghi out for tacking in their water, when both were on the wrong side of the start line, USA could not then capitalise.

When the Swiss catamaran was able to peel away with speed to cross within ten or 15 seconds of the start gun, USA were stalled out, unable to get moving back towards the start.

USA showed superior speed and height through much of the upwind leg, their edge to windward appearing to be greatest when they sailed ‘wing only’ with no jib but just the giant solid wing mainsail, but it was on the long downwind leg that USA were able to extend most over the catamaran.

A lead of three minutes and 21 seconds at the only turn of the historic Deed of Gift course was increased to somewhere around 10 minutes and 8 seconds when Alinghi 5 closed the finish.

The Defender Alinghi did not initially complete their penalty turn correctly, and it took them an additional five minutes to finally unload their penalty.

The second race is scheduled Sunday, warning signal time 1000hrs.

Provisional Result: (33rd America’s Cup, Race 1)

USA (BMW ORACLE Racing, USA) defeat Alinghi 5 (Alinghi, SUI)

Provisional deltas:

Start - Alinghi - 1:27 Windward Mark - BMW ORACLE Racing - 3:21 Finish - BMW ORACLE Racing - 15:28

Quotes:

James Spithill (AUS) skipper/helm BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA)

On the pre- start: “We did a pretty nice job we were able to get the penalty and really had them on the ropes. But we got locked in to windward and tried to tack out but had a bit of a fumble and got stuck in the breeze. It didn't turn out the way I wanted it to! But leading up to that, the guys did a great job of putting us in a very powerful position.”

On the boat speed: “I always thought if we were able to fly a hull we'd be faster upwind, but I was genuinely surprised downwind.”

On the second half of the race: “For the downwind sail combination, the trimmers and weather guys made a good call. We decided to run with the Code 0 downwind and it was definitely the sail. JK (tactician John Kostecki) and Matteo (Navigator Matteo Plazzi) did a great job of getting us on the layline.”

On his feelings on the day: “This was one of the hardest days I've had on the boat with the pressure and direction changes. But all in all it was a good day. I'm sure there are some improvements we can make, but obviously it was great.”

On needing one more win: “We're taking each race as it comes… There is stuff we can do to improve. Obviously downspeed we need some practice! We're excited to get this one in. It's full credit to the guys. For the shore guys and the guys who got it ready for us, today was a day where everything was great on the boat and that was really key for us as well.”

Larry Ellison (USA) team founder and afterguard BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA)

“I think my emotions started when it looked like we were going to race in three and a half knots of breeze. Russell and I were on the boat and we were told that we might be sailing in 20 minutes then we had the call to get as many people off the boat and as much stuff as possible off the boat to sail as light as possible, because there was a very, very light breeze. I had to get off the boat and so did Russell. And so we sailed with a minimum crew. So I think it is more stressful to watch than to sail.”

Russell Coutts (NZL) CEO and afterguard BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA)

“I think it is early days. I said before the series that you wont be able to draw conclusions from the first few minutes of these races… but how about that win…??

"It looked pretty good from where I was sitting today. I think the team did a good job. The guys on board sailed a really nice race, pretty much faultless. They had a few problems at the start, that can happen in these boats, but we are very, very happy with where we are, but we are only a tiny way into this series now. There is so much more work to do. We know we are up against the best team out there and we are certainly not going to take our foot off the throttle. We are going to try and improve our performance further.”

Larry Ellison (USA) team founder and afterguard BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA)

“The piece of kit we are most proud is the wing.”
“Today I did say that sailing is a lot harder than running a software company!”

Russell Coutts (NZL) CEO and afterguard BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA)

“I think it is just way too early to draw too many conclusions. We are only one race into the series. We will see at the end of the series in terms of the relative values of the wing.”

Brad Butterworth (NZL) skipper/tactician Alinghi (SUI)

“We tried to keep the boats apart with having the bottom pin offset but it was not actually set up that well, and we thought we had just done enough but obviously not. But that really did not have any reflection on who won the race. It made some interesting stop and start, in irons and going backwards, something we’d never done on multihulls.”

Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), helmsman and team president Alinghi (SUI)

"For sure at the start after the penalty it felt good they were stopped we could gybe and start. The wind changed quite rapidly. We had six or seven knots during the pre start and right off the start we were surprised with the wind coming in so strong, so quickly, 12 knots, but we thought we were doing good. But they caught up. We had to make a sail change which slowed us, but they were fast today and the wing seems to be quite a weapon. "

Brad Butterworth (NZL) skipper/tactician Alinghi (SUI)

"They certainly showed how fast they can get their boat going. They could not have come off the line in a worse position and they ended up in a very strong position. When you are sitting in front of them and they sail up and around you, that is speed."

Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), helmsman and team president Alinghi (SUI)

"Actually we had too much sail area for the most part of the race. We did not have the set up we would have liked to have had. There was a bit more wind than we expected, so I don’t think sail area would have made much of a difference. It does, I think, show that the wing is quite versatile in many different conditions, but I am not sure sail area would have made much of a difference."

Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), helmsman and team president Alinghi (SUI)

"I have absolutely no regrets and no frustration. Actually I quite enjoyed myself on the water today. It’s racing, you win, you lose that is part of the game. We gave everything we have got over the last two and a half years. So there there is nothing to be frustrated about or ashamed about. Again, the Cup is not over. We still have one race to go. They have to cross the line, finish the race and score two points."

Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), helmsman and team president Alinghi (SUI) “I tell you, when you are in my position with the ten years that are behind and the team I have and the opportunity to race one more, or maybe two more races in the America’s Cup, you can’t call any day a hard day in the America’s Cup. They are all good days. Today it just happened they were faster, they sailed a good race.”
“ We lost and I learned over the years that losing is part of enjoying sailing and going racing.”

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