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Wednesday 30 October 2002
Crazy, Crazy Day on the Hauraki Gulf

Finally competitive crazy sailing returned to the America's Cup, only problem half of it did not count. This day had it all from island hopping to the greatest upset thus far that wasn't.

OneWorld V Stars and Stripes Result: Abandoned.

What a race. It started with OneWorld copping a penalty for being to slow to avoid contact in the first dial up in the pre-start. OneWorld soon had their revenge however with Stars and Stripes being awarded a penalty for tacking to close to OneWorld and thus failing to keep clear. The two penalties canceling each other out. The first beat saw both boats overlay the mark giving OneWorld a handy lead.

The real drama was still to come in this race however. A 100 degree wind shift saw the proper place for the bottom mark become on top of an island. The race committee instead tried to substitute their committee boat for the mark under code flag M. The only problem was the committee boat was behind the two challengers and unable to catch them in time. It eventually stopped behind both of the boats and in between Rakino island and the noises islands. This forced a dramatic change in fortunes as both boats beat back up wind to round the mark/committee boat. Stars and Stripes were able to stay in front until the time limit caught the boats minutes short of finishing.

Throughout this race Virtual Spectator provided dramatic coverage with Stars and Stripes coming very close to the islands and rocks littering the bottom of the race course. Shot of the day would have to be the picture of Stars and Stripes and OneWorld either side of the Haystack island. All this begs a number of questions. Why did the race committee not lay a mark before the islands rather than between them? Surely a shorter leg would have been preferable to the shambles that the race resulted in. Why did the race committee signal a change of course before they had actually made one? Both boats were carrying protest flags and their can be little doubt that the race would have been thrown out by the International Jury.

Prada V Mascalzone Latino Result: Prada won by 1.42.

An even start saw the Latin Rascals in with a real chance to beat their countrymen. A large right-hand shift gave them a handy 32 second lead round the top mark only to be reduced to 6 seconds next top mark rounding. On the run to the finish Mascalzone Latino reestablished a 150 metre lead only to blow it a botched gybe. During the final gybe to the finish they somehow managed to get an hourglass in their kite and the delay in lowering and removing it cost them precious time in the light conditions. This was enough for Prada to roll over the top and claim the win. A case of letting your teammate past as in how the Italian Formula One Ferrari team is occasionally prone to you might ask? Maybe but I doubt it, a win by Mascalzone Latino would have probably guaranteed the continuation of their America's Cup adventure.

Oracle BMW Racing V Victory Challenge Result: Abandoned.

The race was abandoned 140 metres from the finish with Oracle having a comfortable lead. Victory seemed to have a clear speed advantage over Oracle on the first leg in the 7-9 knot breeze. A 45 degree windshift placed victory over the layline and Oracle were able to hold them up there and force Victory to follow them round the top mark. From there Oracle was able to build a substantial lead in the trying conditions. Peter Holmberg was back on the helm with Chris Dickson running the show and John Cutler calling tactics. Noteably absent was billionaire backer Larry Ellison. A combination that seemed successful.

Alinghi V GBR Challenge Result: Alinghi won by 7.45.

Both boats got a nice clean start with GBR looking slightly ahead on the left hand side. The above shift soon changed altered proceedings putting GBR half a kilometre behind at the top mark. From such a strong position Alinghi sailed away with the race nearly catching the Oracle and Stars and Stripes race. Their only real competition was from the time limit which they defeated by two minutes.

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