America's Cup: Alinghi wins first race over Team New Zealand

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Alinghi on display on August 30, 2006.
Image: Rama..
File:America's Cup.jpg
The America's Cup Trophy.
Image: Bob Covarrubias..

The Swiss syndicate, Alinghi has won the first race against Team New Zealand over the challenge for the top yachting award, the 32nd America's Cup. Alinghi finished the race 35 seconds ahead of Team New Zealand.

In the first race of a best out of nine challenge, Alinghi and Team New Zealand started at an even pace. Team New Zealand managed to edge out 25 metres in front of Alinghi on the right hand side of the course, which Team New Zealand chose by winning the coin toss.

Team New Zealand skipper, Dean Barker said that the right hand side was the better side at the start of the race. But the wind changed and favoured Alinghi on the left hand side.

But ten minutes through the race, Alinghi's SUI-100, skippered by New Zealander Brad Butterworth, managed to head out, at times 160 metres in front of NZL-92.

"It felt really good – it was a huge relief to get out there. The racing was close, but we were pretty calm...," Alinghi trimmer Simon Daubney said.

The wind speeds were around 12.5 knots, with Alinghi grinder, Matt Welling describing the conditions as washing machine like. It has been reported that Team New Zealand modified their yacht, NZL-92, for choppy conditions.

Barker, Team New Zealand weather checker, Adam Beashell, and Daubney agree that SUI-100 isn't faster than NZL-92, and New Zealand could win in different conditions. Barker said, "You certainly couldn't blame it on our boat. We are very happy with it. It was just the way the breeze blew today. They are a very strong opponent and they got in front and controlled the race well." Daubney said, "The boat speed is pretty similar between the two, but it was puffy and the breeze was up and down, so you can’t get too much of a read on it in just one race. From a first look though, it seems the boats are pretty similar in speed."

Team New Zealand mastman, Barry McKay said the Team New Zealand will bounce back and carry on, a view also shared by Team New Zealand after-guard, Rob Salthouse.

In the last America's Cup challenge, 2003, Alinghi defeated Team New Zealand 5-0, though in 1995 and 2000, Team New Zealand defeated Alinghi.

Around 800 boats of different sizes and types gathered on the Mediterranean Sea to watch the first race.

Team New Zealand won the right to challenge Alinghi for the cup after defeating Luna Rossa Challenge five-nil for the Louis Vuitton Cup.