After four races it is 2-2, a tie between challenger LunRoss and defender Team New Zealand. What had already been suggested after the two opening races was confirmed on the second day of the race: the starts decide between victory and defeat in these light windy, constant conditions.
There were only marginal speed differences between the boats of both teams in winds between eight and ten knots. Experts saw a slight advantage for the Italians on the wind, they were able to sail a little higher than the New Zealanders in some situations, while they were a little faster over all courses, but this was only noticeable before the wind. However, these differences were not enough for a respective superiority over the opponent. The races were decided by the tacticians in conjunction with the execution of the maneuver, i.e. more by the sailors than by the technology.
"The boats are very balanced," said Peter Burling, the New Zealander's helmsman, after the races, "that makes it interesting on the sailing side." Francesco Bruni of the Italians added: "There are a few small differences, but they are so small that one mistake is enough to decide a race."
Races 3 and 4 in repetition
The coming days promise to be exciting too. From now on, two races will be sailed every day until a winner has been determined, i.e. a team has won seven times. For the next two to three days, the conditions are again rather weak wind, in which both teams apparently feel comfortable.
When asked about a supposed slight advantage of the Italians, which could put them in the role of favorites, Jimmy Spithill said: "I still see us in the role of the weaker. The New Zealanders sail on their home territory and have enormous support from their fans here."
Both boats are at zero on the starboard tack, the Italians on the windward side, New Zealand on the leeward side. Jimmy Spithill, the Australian co-helmsman of the Italians, who stands on this bow on the wheel, manages to keep a sufficient distance leeward to the New Zealanders. It is exactly what every child receives from their coach during regatta training: at the start, the smallest possible distance to the opponent in windward direction, as much as possible to the opponent in lee side. Because if the distance to windward is small, the windward boat will hardly be able to maintain this position. It is sucked up to the leeward boat, loses speed, has to turn away or dive behind it. This phenomenon should be seen in the second race of the day. So that this doesn't happen to you yourself, the distance to leeward has to be large.
When reaching the left course limit, both are tied, the Italians well separated from the New Zealanders on the windward side
The Italian boat can hold its ground to the windward side of the Italians until it reaches the left course limit. They have to turn because of the limitation and have right of way. In cooperation with his counterpart on the port side of the boat, the Italian Francesco Bruni, Spithill succeeds in delaying his own turn for so long and executing it so perfectly that the Italian boat is in the same position after the maneuver as described at the beginning: close to the enemy on windward side, and even slightly ahead.
The Italians overthrow the New Zealanders leeward
The Italians can switch to the so-called high mode, in which they sail a little slower, but higher. The New Zealanders cannot stay on the windward side, sinking further and further on the Italians who move out from below. The New Zealanders have to dive behind the Italians, into their disturbed downdrafts. It's the decision in this race. The Italians extend the lead and do not give it up until the finish.
The New Zealanders cannot hold out and are falling leeward
Francesco Bruni said after the race: "It was tight. It's about two or three seconds. You have to catch exactly the right moment for the turn and execute it perfectly. Jimmy (Spithill) did an excellent job at the start when he gave us positioned so that it reached the limit."
The start was like a copy of the previous one, but with a different outcome. Again the New Zealanders are on the starboard tack leeward, the Italians on windward - but this time too close to the New Zealanders. The reason for this is the behavior of the New Zealanders. You briefly fall from the foils, whether intentionally or not, cannot be determined, sailing in the so-called skimming mode, in which the lower part of the hull is in the water, but the boat has not yet completely sunk. In this mode they are slow. The Italians, however, come full foiling from behind and drive on the New Zealanders. The time until the start is no longer enough to go through behind them and take a leeward position to them. You choose the windward position but are too close to the New Zealanders.
37 seconds before the start, the New Zealanders are off the foils, slowly, the Italians are shooting towards them
At the start, both are tied, but the Italians are too close to the New Zealanders on the leeward side
These turn the tables, go into high mode immediately after take-off, "squeeze" the Italians on the windward side, they sag on the New Zealanders and have to turn away in the boat with less speed. This gives the New Zealanders the decisive advantage of about 50 meters, which is sufficient to avoid being involved in right-of-way situations with the Italians up to the windward gate and being able to control them loosely.
The Italians sink on the New Zealanders and have to turn away
After the downwind passage, just before the Leetor, the Italians are only about 170 meters behind, so they are still within striking distance. At the last jibe on the leeward gate, with which you want to create the so-called split, i.e. a counter course to the opponent, which you should always look for as a boat lying behind without a speed advantage, the foil on the new leeward side is operated incorrectly. It is not yet fully in its lowest position when the load changes from one bow to the other, the boat leans to leeward, the extension arm pulls briefly through the water and creates a lot of resistance. The motors only manage to move the foil arm into the optimal position against the pressure of the foil. All in all, so much speed is lost that the New Zealanders pull away for more than 400 meters - the final decision. Bruni takes the wrong operation of the foil on his head: "I missed the button."