Luna Rossa had their full A-boat crew out for racing against Alinghi today, with James Spithill steering and Torben Grael doing the tactics. On the Alinghi boat it was Ed Baird steering and Brad Butterworth calling tactics, adding further fuel to the rumour that Baird has been given the top job ahead of Peter Holmberg. The truth of that rumour we won’t know until the Defender announces its helmsman the day before the America’s Cup Match.
The pre-starts were quite aggressive, and in one start Spithill managed to get the hook on Baird, forcing Alinghi to tack off on to port near the committee boat and make a downspeed start to the right. On this particular start the boats never re-engaged, separated by several hundred metres as they sailed up opposite sides of the course.
After about 15 minutes of sailing they turned back down again to pick up a tow from their chase boats to the bottom of the course. It looked to me like Alinghi would have been quite far ahead at that point.
That’s when I headed in, so I didn’t see subsequent races between the boats, although word came back that Luna Rossa was well ahead in another match where they used spinnakers. Alinghi ripped one of theirs, putting them further behind. Apparently Alinghi's tacks and gybes were looking a bit ragged, as they did in the informal racing against the Kiwis a couple of weeks ago. Crew work will definitely need to improve before they meet Dean Barker and Co, who look more and more slick with every race.
As usual, very difficult to make any hard conclusions about performance. Luna Rossa was using ITA 94 but not sure which Alinghi boat we were looking at. Judging by the aggression in the pre-starts, the best guess would be that it was the older SUI 91.