Whoever wobbles first loses. The America's Cup events in the Hauraki Gulf off Auckland can currently be reduced to this simple formula. In the currently dominant light and inconsistent winds, the starts decide which team will win a race. It was German time early on Saturday morning.
That was also a new record for the sailing enthusiast "City of Sails" Auckland: a total of around 1600 boats lined the Cup course on Saturday. "LunRossa" helmsman Jimmy Spithill said: "It is an unbelievable opportunity and a great privilege to be able to sail here in front of this backdrop of almost 2000 boats. In Italy the people are in lockdown."
Against a spectacular backdrop of a record fleet of about 1,600 spectator boats and tens of thousands of fans on the water and in front of the giant screens on land, neither defender New Zealand nor the Italian "Challenger of Record" could achieve a breakthrough - each team won a race. In both cases, the duels were lost due to mistakes in the pre-start phase. At halftime in the 36th America's Cup match, the opponents are at eye level with a score of 3: 3. The team that wants to win the most important trophy in international sailing needs seven victories. There are many indications that Kiwis and Azzurri are heading for a heartbeat finale.
Defenders and challengers always keep an eye on each other
"LunRossa" start helmsman Jimmy Spithill, who takes turns with helmsman Francesco Bruni during the races, said when asked about the increasing pressure for the teams: "That's what we live for! That was great today with the large number of spectators. The Royal Airforce was there. I'm looking forward to tomorrow!"
"LunRossas" co-skipper Francesco Bruni often has a good saying on his lips. The seven-time world champion from Palermo has no lack of humor. On Saturday he said after the Kiwis equalized 3: 3: "That you don't think we have made an appointment. That is not the case."
Peter Burling with his own facial expression between questioning, thoughtful and just before smiling
The LunRossPradPirelli Team opened the fifth race on Saturday morning with convincing start timing, while the New Zealanders fell from their shorter foils in slack conditions and got their boat out of the water again too slowly. After that, the Azzurri did not give the kiwis, which were again strongly emerging in the final phase, a chance to pass in inconsistent winds of eight to nine knots. 18 seconds ahead of the finish line was enough for the Italian success.
In race six, however, New Zealand's helmsman Peter Burling and his crew, who showed themselves smiling despite the defeat in the break between races, were able to turn the tide again: While LunRossin was too slow in the pre-start phase in a light wind field, New Zealand's Te Rehutai pulled away and left the challengers look lame with 1 minute and 41 seconds ahead of the finish line. "That was a good end to another tight day," said New Zealand 49er Olympic gold medalist and flight controller Blair Tuke. Jimmy Spithill, who sailed with the Australian "Boxing Kangaroo" printed on his gray Prada shirt, once again conjured up the scenario from his point of view: "We are sailing against the best team in the world. It was a bit of a minefield outside today. We have learned a lot. The next goal is always to win the next race."
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Martin Fischer: "If you arrive too early, you have to brake"
The cup duel will continue on Sunday at 4.15 a.m. German time and can be seen live on Servus TV and in the original sound of the viAmerica's Cup website. More spectator boats are expected around the cup course on Sunday, possibly more than 2000. Martin Fischer, co-design coordinator, foil ace and rules expert in the Italian LunRossPradPirelli team, reported on Saturday: "That was after today the races like on the autobahn: a real traffic jam when the many boats return to the harbor."
The 58-year-old German physicist, who was born in Celle and studied in Munich and Hamburg, said of the races themselves: "Yesterday I was a little surprised at how fast the New Zealand boat is when the wind is clear. You are even allowed to use the space One of the commentators said today, rightly, that everyone is waiting for a first break from one of the teams, just like in tennis. We managed that today in the first race of the day - but the New Zealanders immediately afterwards the rebreak. It is confirmed in the current one Easier conditions: If you are ahead after the start, you will stay there. Both teams made a similar mistake today. It happened because the teams are generally a little too early in their timing at the start. On the one hand, so as not to To be late at the line, on the other hand, to keep options open. But if you arrive too early, you have to brake. " The result of this need was felt in New Zealand in race five and Italy in race six. With the familiar consequences.
When it came to the weather forecast for races 7 and 8 on Sunday, the models were not in agreement on Saturday evening in Auckland. The forecasts varied between ten and up to 20 knots of wind. After only races in light to just medium winds, a maximum of 13, 14 knots, it would be an attractive change to experience how the teams and their boats act under more pressure.
Guests at the press conference at the end of the third day of racing were New Zealand's helmsman Peter Burling and his teammate Josh Junior as well as LunRossa's co-helmsmen Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni
If you want to watch both races again, you will be there almost live with this clip