'In case there's a change in the weather ' . . . the management of the America's Cup decided to design and build wing mast extensions - Naples was a named target for this improvement - and today was ideal for these to be deployed, but . . . they were not in evidence as the breeze wavered around seven to eight knots from the east at best.
The start was a struggle in the first race - a short line and what air there was was tremendously disturbed. While Paul Campbell-James at the helm of Luna Rossa- Swordfish appeared to nail the start at the committee boat end, it was those who started at the other end that came off best. Team China and Team Korea were close around the first mark with Energy Team and it was the French who made the running to round the leeward mark with an eight second lead over Team Korea.
Dean Barker and the ETNZ crew were well back in the pack after taking a penalty and at one stage was 660 metres behind the leader in last place. The breeze was exceedingly fitful and big gaps were not uncommon, and Jimmy Spithill, listening closely to the advice of wind guru John Kostecki, made big gains on the second windward leg of the three lap course to be second 42 seconds behind Energy Team.
Yann Guichard showed no sign of relinquishing the lead however much pressure Spithill applied and covered his rival throughout the last round. Emirates Team New Zealand made an effort on the final round to overcome the disadvantage imposed by the early penalty and finished in front of Luna Rossa-Swordfish and the early leader, China Team.
What a difference an hour makes . . . seemingly similar fitful breezes greeted the fleet and it was Oracle Racing-Spithill that led off the line from Nathan Outteridge with Team Korea. At the leeward mark, ten seconds separated them with ETNZ a further 20 seconds back in third place. While these places remained the same on the windward leg, China Team lost ground and was only six seconds ahead of ETNZ at the next mark.
On the next beat however, ETNZ found more wind on the left hand side of the course, having opted to go that way on rounding the left hand buoy of the gate. At the weather mark, the Kiwi boat had reversed the order to be 22 seconds ahead of the Spithill team, going on to finish first with the major rival neatly tucked behind. The fitfulness of the conditions were such that fully five minutes elapsed before the third placed Luna Rossa-Swordfish crossed the line.
Results (after six races) today races in parentheses) Emirates Team New Zealand (7,1) 52 points Oracle Racing - Spithill (2,2) 47 Luna Rossa - Piranha (3,4) 42 Team Korea (5,5) 39 Energy Team (1,7) 39 Luna Rossa - Swordfish (8,3) 35 Oracle Racing - Bundock (4,6) 28 Artemis Racing (6,8) 20 China Team (9,9) 8
In the two match races, Artemis beat Emirates Team New Zealand, and Luna Rossa - Swordfish beat the Energy Team.
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