by Daphne Morgan Barnicoat
Alinghi lost Race 1 of the 33rd America's Cup, a best-of-three series, today after a hard fought pre-start and a 40nm race. The Defender from the Société Nautique de Genève took an early lead onto the course, but didn't hold on to it.
"The crew work went well. The difference was the speed of the boats. The solution they have come up with on Oracle is very fast. It's pretty hard to beat them on a day like today," said Brad Butterworth, team skipper and tactician.
The race started at 14:35 in a southerly wind between 6 and 8 knots and flat sea, good conditions for the 90ft load waterline multihulls. The top mark was set at a bearing of 180 degrees, due south, 20nm to windward.
Alinghi, the port-tack yacht entering the start box, was penalised in the pre-start by the on-water umpires for failing to keep clear. But the Alinghi crew took the lead off the start line after BMW Oracle Racing got into “irons”, a predicament where the boat looses steerage.
"We never had a chance to cross them, so it was just one of those things. We tried to get across them but couldn't. When we realised that was the case we came up and tacked over and got a penalty. That was a bit surprising, but it didn't have an impact on the race in the end," said Butterworth.
Alinghi 5, with team president Ernesto Bertarelli at the helm, circled around the pin end and onto the race course for an early 1m27s lead, or approximately 660m. The catamaran held pace with the trimaran early, but eventually was overtaken. Alinghi was behind by 3m21s at the windward mark and 15m28s at the finish after performing a penalty turn for the pre-start infraction.
Looking forward to Sunday, Butterworth said: "As long as you've got a life you've got a chance. We will regroup and think about race two. Sunday's race will be a different sort of race. We'll see what conditions lend themselves. They looked pretty awesome upwind, and it was hard for us to hold them back. We'll have our work cut out."
Tomorrow is an off day as per the Deed of Gift, the America's Cup governing document, so racing will resume on Sunday 14 February weather permitting.