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Fisher's View- Wild Wing Triumph

by Bob Fisher on 15 Feb 2010
The Fish. (Bob Fisher, doing what he does the best.) Guy Nowell

Bob Fisher reviews the final race of the America's Cup and the on the water shenanigans:

Ticking away the moments
That make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours
In an off-hand way.

'Time' by Pink Floyd

The waiting was almost interminable and very nearly terminal for a race today. Just five minutes inside the limit to start before Harold Bennett had the two boats away some six hours and 25 minutes late. For the second time Alinghi 5 went off carrying a penalty. This time it was for an incorrect entry into the starting area – an unforced error.

On board the committee boat, the members of the SNG refused to handle the flags. It was left to the Golden Gate YC representative and a chase boat driver to assist Harold Bennett. The reason for the SNG spat was unclear, but it has been suggested that they would have preferred not to race. The GGYC representative said: 'I will not comment on it, except to say that it was the most disgraceful behaviour I have ever encountered.'

BMW Oracle took the start at the port end of the line while the Swiss were almost a minute late, heading to the right. After four minutes USA tacked to parallel Alinghi 5, but 11 minutes later there was a 20 degree wind shift to the right and Alinghi tacked; USA answered to leeward but the shift had handed the advantage to the catamaran.
On that leg, a red flag appeared on a staff on Alinghi 5. Just what that was all about, we may never know, as it was not processed. When pressed, Brad Butterworth indicated that they were considering the penalty that had been imposed at the start.

The two boats went on a long starboard tack out to the layline. USA was first to tack and passed close astern of Alinghi 5, but when the catamaran tacked, USA sailed through her lee into the lead and by the time they arrived at the windward mark, the trimaran was 28 seconds ahead.

The first reach, due to the wind shift, was a close one and the power of the wing came to the fore. Piling on the pressure, Jimmy Spithill, admirably aided by 'Cheese,' Dirk de Ridder on the wing trim, stretched the lead to 2:28 by the gybe mark. It was all over bar the shouting.

Down the broader reach they flew at around 20 knots and by the time Alinghi 5 had executed its penalty turn the final time difference was 5:26. The Cup was to change hands and several records tumbled. Jimmy Spithill became the youngest ever skipper to win the Cup, Sir Russell Coutts became a fourth-time winner, and the Cup returns to the USA after 15 years absence.

Where to now? It could go anywhere. There are thoughts that it could stay in Valencia. It could go to San Francisco, or even San Diego, maybe Newport Rhode Island, but the presence of one person in the BMW Oracle headquarters earlier in the week who is a great friend of Russell Coutts, could indicate that the Cup is headed to Lisbon/Cascais, the venue that was dropped at the last minute when Valencia was chosen. Coutts is known to favour the Portuguese venue and he does hold considerable sway in the new defender’s camp.

'My vengeance on the foe to wreak, while the soft winds shook the barley.'
An Irish ballad by Robert Dwyer Joyce
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