July 3, 2007 Alinghi finally won the 32nd America's Cup Match 5-2this afternoon, winning its fourth consecutive race in dramatic fashion. The final race of the America's Cup was befitting of what has been the closest, most exciting America's Cup since the Cup was won by Australia II in1983, ending the longest winning streak in the history of sport 131 years. The skipper of Australia II, John Bertrand, was quoted at the time as saying, “this puts yacht racing back on the map!” His words were prophetic indeed, as the Cup is now the most expensive and technology infused peacetime contest other than Formula One. Emirates Team New Zealand spent much of the race ahead on the advantage line, but with Alinghi in strong tactical position on the right hand side of the race course. The Kiwis were never able to get a big enough lead to cross ahead and switch sides, finally crossing the line just one second behind Alinghi.
After making a pass on the first run and leading through the leeward gate by 14 seconds, Emirates Team New Zealand again found it couldn't get across the bow of SUI 100 on the second upwind leg.
With both boats approaching the top mark separated by just a few metres, the Kiwis, approaching from the left on port tack, faced Alinghi roaring in on the privileged starboard tack. Both boats went into a 'dial-down' and the Umpires penalised the port tack NZL 92 crew for not keeping clear of Alinghi. That, effectively, was the race. Alinghi rounded the top mark ahead by 12 seconds and looked secure for the win.
But then, an enormous windshift saw Emirates Team New Zealand able to lay finishing line which was now upwind. As Alinghi struggled to drop its spinnaker, the Kiwis turned into tack to fulfil its penalty obligation. Now downspeed, the Kiwis could only watch in horror as Alinghi slid across the line, just one second ahead.
As SUI 100 crossed the finishing line, the crew was muted in its celebration, still stunned by what had occurred over the past five minutes. The spectator fleet paid its respect through a cacophony of boat horns. Then, the relieved and excited Alinghi crew took up a tow to join in the celebrations in Port America's Cup It was a perfect day for racing on the waters off Valencia, with the bright, warm, Valencian sun generating a strong 14 to 17 knot sea breeze until the final moments of the race.
Match 7 - Alinghi beat Emirates Team New Zealand - DELTA 0:01
Yet again it was a tense and aggressive pre-start between the teams, with Dean Barker refusing the traditional dial-up in favour of getting below Alinghi's stern and chasing Ed Baird around the start box. Barker always looked in control, but at start time both boats were at full speed off the line, Alinghi to the right of NZL 92. Baird managed to live there for some minutes, until he was forced to tack away over to the right.
The Kiwis claimed the lead for a brief moment up the beat, but towards the top of the course Alinghi managed to hold their opponent past the port layline. A luffing match ensued before Baird accelerated and took SUI 100 around the windward mark 7 seconds ahead.
Down the run, the Kiwi gybes and spinnaker handling looked more assured, and with the Alinghi spinnaker flailing momentarily, Barker surged past Baird into the lead. At the bottom gate, the Kiwis opted for the simpler spinnaker drop, taking the left-hand mark, Alinghi making a difficult gybe-drop look easy and rounding the right-hand mark 14 seconds behind.
The Kiwis tacked over to loose-cover Alinghi as both boats tracked out to the right-hand side. Brad Butterworth called for a tack over at the Kiwis and a tacking duel ensued. Alinghi appeared to be winning the battle, and eventually the Kiwis disengaged, still a boatlength ahead but to the left of their rivals.
When Barker reached the port layline, he tacked and immediately bore away into a dial-down against Baird. The Kiwis tried to get below the line of SUI 100, but it was close. The Swiss flew a Y flag in protest, and the Umpires flew a yellow penalty flag in response.
Now a penalty down, the Kiwis rounded the final mark 12 seconds behind. On the final run to the finish, the breeze was dropping, but the Kiwis could make no impact. Alinghi was on the final approach to the finish when their spinnaker pole flew off the mast, the spinnaker flailing. At the same time the breeze dropped and shifted massively.
Alinghi - dead in the water - was overtaken. Then the Kiwis almost reached the line and took their penalty with a double-tack. Struggling to accelerate, they bore away to cross but Alinghi made it across the finish by just 1 second.
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning