June 23, 2007 America’s Cup Defender Alinghi won the first race of the 32nd America’s Cup Match on Saturday afternoon in the waters off Valencia. In perfect conditions for racing, with a stable 12 knot sea breeze, Emirates New Zealand skipper Dean Barker won the start, but within a few minutes, Alinghi showed enough pace to force the Kiwi boat to tack, and from there, the Swiss were in control. Alinghi is now long odds-on with bookmakers to win the best of nine race series,
Match 1 – Alinghi beat Emirates Team New Zealand – DELTA 0:35
With the advantage of starboard entry, Emirates Team New Zealand sailed into an early dial-up against Alinghi. It wasn’t an aggressive pre-start, with both helmsmen preferring to keep it clean for the first race of the Match. On the final approach to the start line, Dean Barker held the right hand side, with Ed Baird controlling the lead into the line on the left.
Both teams made very good starts, but NZL 92 was quicker to get up to speed in the lumpy, bouncy conditions. SUI 100 looked very wet and appeared to bounce around in the choppy waves, and yet after a few minutes Baird was sailing faster and forced Barker away to the right. When the Swiss tacked to go with New Zealand over to the right, they found a small left-hand windshift and moved into a lead that gave them control of the match. Around the top mark the lead was 13 seconds. The Kiwis attacked with a number of gybes downwind, but Brad Butterworth refused to be engaged in a gybing duel and SUI 100 had gained at the leeward gate, now 20 seconds ahead. However, Terry Hutchinson made the most of a bit of separation up the next windward leg and the Kiwis were snapping at the leader’s heels again. Around the final mark the Kiwis trailed by 14 seconds, not quite close enough to really threaten the increasingly confident Alinghi. Down the final run SUI 100 found an extra gear and, with Hutchinson trying a few more gybes to find something different, the Defender extended to win by 35 seconds.