Saturday, 2 June 2007

Right place, Wrong speed

You can’t fault James Spithill and the Luna Rossa crew for their ability to win the favoured side of the start. Spithill pulled off a high-risk manoeuvre on port across the bow of the Y-flag-waving Kiwis in today’s pre-start. The Italians got away with it, and claimed the power of the right.

What they failed to do, however, was hit the start line at full pace. The Italians were downspeed today, as they were yesterday, while Dean Barker and the Kiwis had wound NZL 92 fully up to speed as the gun fired. Luna Rossa put in an early tack to the right, which was where they wanted to be, but they had paid a high price to win that supposed advantage.

Luna Rossa's navigator Michele Ivaldi commented: "The turning point was at the start, we wanted the right a little more strongly than yesterday. Team New Zealand and Deano did a good job in making us pay for the right. We had the side but we paid with some boat speed crossing the starting line."

Within 20 seconds of crossing the line, New Zealand was already a boatlength up and Barker rolled into a tack to shadow the Italians on the right. The ensuing drag race confirmed the findings of yesterday’s race, that there is very little to choose between these boats for speed.

Nor was there much to choose between one side of the course or the other. Torben Grael found nothing on the right to get him back into the race. When the Italian finally tacked to face the music, the Kiwis were ready, and started pouring the pain on to their rivals as they herded the match out towards the starboard layline.

By the top mark the delta in the Kiwis’ favour was 25 seconds. Barker never allowed a glimmer of hope that the Italians might get back into this race. Emirates Team New Zealand finished 40 seconds ahead, and moved to 2-0 ahead in the series. Even after today’s emphatic victory, though, there’s very little to choose between these teams. It looks like it’s all about the start and the first cross.

In the first two races the Italians have won the positioning they wanted, but at the expense of start-line acceleration. If they can address that problem, then they could give the faultless Kiwis a run for their money. NZL Strategist Ray Davies said today: "It was an awesome day, one of the best days we have had on board – it was all working really well. Terry was on fire, he was sailing really confidently." The Italians need to win tomorrow to prevent Kiwi confidence from gaining further momentum.


winzurf said...

I don't understand why the leeward boat doesn't push the windward boat above the committee boat at the start more often, surely this would create a more significant advantage. Could ETNZ have done this in the second race?

Andy Rice said...

If you can get high enough to push the windward boat the wrong side, you certainly have a go, but the boats are usually very careful to make sure they stay inside the laylines, so it's highly unlikely Luna Rossa put themselves in such a vulnerable position. But you do see it happen occasionally. There were a few times when a boat got pushed the wrong side during the Round Robins...