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(C)update: 5 penalty match to America True
Note: For complete results and standings see (C)update Daily
In the midst of the failures and breakdowns the America's Cup trials are starting to produce interesting action on the course. The latest match to attain memorable status was between Nippon and America True. The end result was a total of 5 penalties and a 12 second winning margin.
Today with assistance from the Virtual Spectator program we will focus on the key incidents in this race.
The first action came in the pre start. Ever aggressive Peter Gilmour steered Nippon into the starting box with the starboard tack advantage. The first two to three minutes saw the boats at least 1000 meters apart. Speeds were high as the boats reached 14 knots off the wind.
At 3 minutes to start the boats were
145 meters apart. At 2 minutes 40 seconds Nippon tacked from port to
starboard. At 2' 15" America True attempted to tack across
Nippon's bow, but misjudged and was penalized for a port/starboard
The hook made John Cutler tack away. 10 seconds before the start Cutler tried to tack back. Again a misjudgment and another penalty. America True skipper John Cutler described this incident: "We clearly tacked too close and actually lost our mast unit at that point.
This second penalty was crucial. The second penalty meant that America True had to execute an immediate penalty turn.
America True led across the line by 13 seconds. At 45 seconds they initiated their penalty turn with a 70 meter lead on Nippon. They made a 270 degree turn which they completed at 1' 40" after the start. By the end of the turn Nippon was 330 meters ahead, a total distance lost of 400 meters for America True.
Nippon took advantage of this and built a lead of 37" at the first mark. They held this lead with the lead peaking at 41 seconds at the end of the 2nd windward leg.
America True narrowed the lead to 27" by the end of the 2nd leeward leg. On the 2nd upwind leg America True sailed past Nippon benefiting from a left hand shift. At the final windward mark they led by 28".
Their dilemma was now that although they were in the lead, they still had a penalty turn left. Their lead was not great enough to survive this turn.
America True decided to take an aggressive approach and try to draw a penalty from Nippon. 2/3rds of the way to the finish they aggressively luffed Nippon. Nippon didn't react quick enough and was penalized. Penalties now even at 1. The first luff slowed America True so a 2nd luff was needed to stay ahead. This time America True was penalized. So, America True luffed a third time, during which Nippon sideswiped America True. Nippon was again penalized.
Most of the luffing occurred under spinnaker. America True made quicker work of the spinnaker takedown. Nippon's maneuvering was hampered by having their spinnaker flying longer. Finally, America True reset her kite and sailed to an exciting 12 second win.
Back on shore after this contest there is now a possibility of a protest by Nippon. There is controversy over the penalties awarded during the luffing match.
Sailing at this world championship board sailing regatta continues in New Caledonia. At stake our berths in the Men's and Women's Mistral fleet at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Among teams needing to grab a men's berth, the Netherlands looks the best sitting 4th. Other teams looking for a berth are struggling. Germany's best is 36th, the USA is 39th, Spain 28th, Sweden 38th and Canada 42nd. The top ten countries not already qualified will get a berth. So a top 10 finish is not necessary, but at this point only the Netherlands looks close to certain.
Teams needing a women's berth are also struggling to produce quality results. The Netherlands's holds 11th place, and Great Britain 13th. These placings are solid as the first 8 non qualified countries get a slot. Not as certain are Israel in 28th and Greece in 31st. The USA has already qualified. Winner of the US Olympic trials Lanee Butler is 30th.