America’s Cup Race 5 of 9 - Advantage Alinghi

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June 29, 2007 Alinghi beat Emirates Team New Zealand on Friday afternoon in perfect 15 knot sea breeze conditions to take a 3-2 lead in the 32nd America’s Cup Match. It wasn’t a straightforward win. The Swiss trailed over the starting line and around the first top mark as Emirates Team New Zealand showed aggression in the pre-start, forcing the SUI 100 helmsman Ed Baird to attempt to shake them off by using the spectator fleet. The Kiwis converted the small advantage off the starting line into a 12 second lead around the first mark. Then a single moment could well have turned the tide as a burst spinnaker on NZL 92 (pictured) and a poor recovery by the crew, saw Alinghi slide past and grab a lead it would never relinquish, eventually finishing 19 seconds ahead of the Emirates squad. Race Six is scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

Match 5 – Alinghi beat Emirates Team New Zealand – DELTA 0:19

In the pre-start, Emirates Team New Zealand’s Dean Barker watched Ed Baird roll into a dial-up, but instead of matching, he bore away beneath Alinghi’s stern, forcing SUI 100 up above the starting line. Barker then harried Baird across the top of the Race Committee boat and the Swiss were forced to seek refuge in the spectator fleet on the right side of the start box.

From there the Kiwis controlled the lead into the start, holding the Swiss high up near the Race Committee boat. Alinghi tacked just before the start gun, downspeed as they passed the committee boat on port, while New Zealand launched off the line. Barker tacked to track Alinghi over to the right, and for a while it looked like the Swiss boat would sail away underneath the Kiwis as the advantage line came back to zero.

However, Barker and his crew found another gear and matched Baird out to the right-hand layline. Once safely in the corner, the Kiwis tacked and led Alinghi back to the windward mark, leading around by 12 seconds.

Just a few minutes into the run disaster struck the Kiwi boat. A little rip developed in the spinnaker and the foredeck crew were readying a replacement when the first spinnaker blew apart. A miscommunication on the boat saw the new kite hoisted before it had been properly attached, so it blew out like a flag from the mast head. By the time the team had a third spinnaker in place, Alinghi had sailed out to leeward of the stricken Kiwi boat and gybed its way into the lead.

Eventually the Kiwis settled down again, but at the leeward gate the Swiss were leading by 26 seconds. With Alinghi taking the right mark, New Zealand took the left, looking for some separation. Amazingly the Kiwis got close to Alinghi on the second beat, pulling back to three boatlengths as a tacking duel ensued. However Terry Hutchinson opted to match Brad Butterworth’s tacks and follow Alinghi into the final mark, now 24 seconds behind.

Down the final run the Kiwis chose a symmetrical spinnaker, perhaps because they had exhausted their supply of asymmetrics from the breakdown earlier, but they still looked as fast as Alinghi and closed a bit of distance. However, Ed Baird and crew held their nerve to secure the win and go one race up on the scoreboard

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