America's Cup 2010
Race 1 Race Results

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Race 1 Summary Report
BMW Oracle wins by 15:28

Valencia, February 12, 2010

USA, Golden Gate YC's Challenger, heads for the finish in Race 1.
Photo: ©2010
Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW Oracle Racing

America's Cup 2010 Race 1 Summary:

"Gentleman Start Your Engines" is something we once never expected to hear at the start of a sailboat race, but here we are racing off Valencia!

The two came into the start box and provoked a gasp, coming right at each other.  Alinghi tried to cross in front of BMW Oracle, but A5 could not get out of the way of the onrushing USA and copped a Port-Starboard penalty for not keeping clear.  Both boats then going into the dial-up. Before the enormity of needing to do a penalty turn could be appreciated, it became apparent too the Americans had stalled out and were in irons above the start line when the gun went off.  A5 came out low, rounded the pin, and left and hot on port, leaving the trimaran still making sternway before BMW got sorted, crossed below the line, and set off in pursuit.

All the experts expected we would know who had the faster boat in the first few minutes of a presumed drag race.  It took half of a (20 mile) leg for the truth to come out.  The trimaran quickly clawed back from 600m disadvantage, obviously sailing higher and faster.  USA was better or equal to A5 going upwind, even when A5 changed from a G-Zero to an upwind jib, even when USA sailing bare-headed after the Americans dropped their jib and showed less drag and greater speed.

For an extended period it appeared the two might be evenly matched, legging along on port, USA sailing above, slightly higher, slightly faster.  The tri was a cat for all the time the central third hull spent in the water during Race 1.  A few times close inspection showed A5 dumping water ballast, probably as they tried different configurations to look for gains.

Eventually both boats centered up, crossing the course on starboard, and with the same result, USA always scratching out a few more meters on Virtual Eye graphics, extending her lead to the port layline.  To surprise of many, there did not appear to be much difference in how quickly or easily the giant multis went through tacks, which can be a performance weakness for multi-hulls in general, and a maneuver where the soft sail was presumed to be at a disadvantage to the wing sail.

BMW Oracle Racing made the layline, rounded the top (and only) windward mark with ease, and bore off under the massive gennaker.  Alinghi seemed to have cut their approach thin and struggled somewhat, pinching to make the mark, and coming into the mark was often slow with both hulls in the water.  Rounding delta was 3 minute 21 seconds, advantage USA.

On the course commentary, switched to posing whether downwind would be where the Alinghi cat would find her feet.  After a similar bear away maneuver, it appeared A5 had some troubles sorting out for the downhill run.  Perhaps it was some mechanical difficulty, maybe just trying to do a lot all at once, to close course, but she couldn’t keep up.

USA seemed at ease while A5, shown from astern (with USA leading in distance) seemed to cut a series of S curves, sometime dropping onto both hulls, and then rising again before doing the same confounding swath -- not fast.  At one point the cameras zoomed in to see the Swiss crew dumping ballast from the windward ama, trading off righting moment to shed overall weight.

The cat was charging from behind late, finally showing some legs, but never seemed able to make any gains on USA, which despite advanced hints by both teams of a “crossover” in performance is obviously a very stable platform in the conditions present for this first race.  That A5 was expected to shine in the light may be confounding for the Defender.  The trimaran was certainly at home, dominating after the botched start.

USA crossed the finish line while A5 was still over 3 kilometers back up the course.  Having yet to discharge their penalty, the Swiss crossed and then turned up again.  In doing their slow turn, to exonerate a penalty from pre-start, the massive A5 was never completely on the race course and had to come back a second time to stop the clock.

Final delta 15:28.
Golden Gate YC USA -1 /
Société Nautique de Genève SUI: - 0

-- Report ©2010 CupInfo

Jimmy Spithill, Skipper, BMW Oracle, on the pre-start:
"I was approaching it pretty aggressively because the wind was quite light -- we did a great job on the entry. We were able to get a piece of ‘em and a force a penalty which was good, but then pretty soon after -- we’re sort of learning all the time-- we had a hard time sorta stopping the boat. We ended up rolling forwards and getting overlapped to windward....

"We sorta had a hard time to try and stay out of irons. We got stuck in irons. We had an issue with one of the winches, we couldn’t get the sail on ‘em, and obviously we couldn’t get the bow down. So it was a bit frustrating, you know, as we really had him on the back foot there."

Question: As you came across the line, how did you feel when you started chasing Alinghi down?
Spithill: “Pretty fired up, we pushed the boat harder than I’ve ever pushed it before –- I mean right on the edge.....the boat really took off."


  Post-Race Quotes

From Dirk de Ridder, Wingsail Trimmer, BMW Oracle:
"Over probably 9-10 knot breeze it’s more efficient without the headsail, and the wing is working at maximum efficiency at that windspeed, and there was no surprise we were better upwind against Alinghi with the wing only....Once we get to over over 10 knots we’re at our absolute best and probably more wind we’d even be better. So good to see in the lighter wind up the first beat we were actually going quite well -- we were very very pleased"

Larry Ellison, Owner, BMW Oracle:
"I would have sailed today if they weren’t about to call a race in three-and-a-half knots. If it’s very very light, we’ll sail with minimum crew again.  I had intended to sail today and I intend to sail Sunday but not if the breeze is three knots of breeze."

Ernesto Bertarelli, Owner, Alinghi: "The wing seems to be quite a weapon."

Brad Butterworth, Alinghi Skipper: "What do you want me to say, they sailed from behind us to in front of us."

From James Spithill, Skipper, BMW Oracle Racing:

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.”


SNG's Alinghi 5, left; USA (Golden Gate YC's Challenger) right; heading up up the windward Leg in Race 1.
Photo: ©2010
Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW Oracle Racing

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