Trofeo Desafío Español in Valencia

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TDE: Assessing the Teams

November 9, 2008


Desafío Español laying the mark.
Photo:©2008 Carlo Borlenghi/Alinghi

Looking at the performance of the four Trofeo Desafío Español entries:

Tick, tock, tick, tock.  Their metronomic performance was of Swiss precision.  Apart from the torn kites on day one, they looked imperious throughout.  They are the America’s Cup holders, they are fast and that breeds confidence which they have in abundance, and they rammed home that advantage.  As the breeze built, their superior upwind performance was noticeable, a
nd seemed effortless.  "They found sixth gear," shouted one wag onboard a trailing competitor.  The biggest problem for their opponents is they probably have another three higher gears still.  Undaunted winners in every department. 

Luna Rossa:
Going into this regatta, LR was readily expected to have run Alinghi a little closer, but the Italians never seemed quite at home.  They continually had good starts from new addition Peter Holmberg, but it just didn’t come together after that for the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup semi-finalists.  During the LVC this boat appeared to prefer lighter conditions, so with maximum winds only around 11-12 knots for the TDE it was easy to think they would thrive this weekend.  The best news was that they were back on the water after their decision last year not to compete for another Cup.  Hopefully that decision has changed, or will.

Team Origin:
It was nice to see the Brits out there, especially for their countrymen.  Racing with an older boat, kindly loaned, hastily assembled -- and a team with little time together -- really they shouldn't have been in the fray.  That they were was great news for British America’s Cup fans, and for the Cup in general.  We belong there.  It was our pot.  We just happened to be the first to lose it. 

The team is at the bottom of a very steep learning curve.  They know that, and among them a real sense of unity was apparent.  They are still missing members such as Neal McDonald, which goes to show their depth if they can sail as well as they they did this weekend without their full roster.  Origin performed way past expectations -- I'm British, I know how to lose, and am used to it.  This team has the potential to go far, especially with sailors like Mike Sanderson at the back.  Hopefully they will get the funding they need. 

Desafío Español:
One would have thought that based on their performance last year, they would be mixing it up with Luna Rossa this time, with Alinghi in front and newcomers Team Origin well behind.  It didn't work out that way.  Desafío sometimes struggled to get into races after the start, and ran a constant battle with Team Origin most of the time.  The boat may have some influence as I believe she was moded more for breeze than the light we experienced.

Summing up:

Team of the weekend?  It has to be Alinghi.

Best surprise?  Undoubtedly, I'm pleased to say, the British.

--- ©2008 John Crisp for CupInfo

Links of Interest:

Race Report: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Watching: ACC Machines Up Close

Curtain Raiser: The Beast Awakens in Valencia

Crew Lists (pdf format)

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