After enduring a day of relentless rain, Saturday morning unveiled Vilanova i la Geltrú in all its sunny glory, accompanied by a gentle 10-12 knot south-westerly breeze. The sailors and fans alike were brimming with optimism. With a few clouds gathering on the horizon, there was a flicker of hope for that much-awaited sea breeze to kick in and set the stage for some exhilarating racing.
The disappointment of the previous day's abandonment lingered, but the spirit was resolute aboard New York Yacht Club American Magic. The team stood ready, determined, and brimming with anticipation, eager to make up for the lost time.
Race 1: A Thrilling Start
The day's racing commenced in conditions ideal for marginal foiling. The teams surged forward, and NYYC American Magic's start was ideal - perfect placement and timing catapulted them ahead, leaving their competitors momentarily stunned. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli wasn't far behind, securing a solid start. After a delayed start, Team New Zealand displayed a remarkable recovery, positioning themselves right in the mix.
As the boats embarked on the first upwind leg towards the initial mark, it was a nail-bitingly close race. NYYC American Magic and New Zealand maintained their foiling prowess, engaging in a thrilling duel. However, the tides turned as New Zealand, attempting to round the first mark, slipped off the foils, and both teams found themselves overtaken by Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and France’s Orient Express Racing Team.
American Magic's Steady Rise
The second downwind leg witnessed American Magic's steady ascent. Yet, nature had its plans. The wind gods, fickle as ever, decided to challenge the sailors.
As the wind dwindled, Iain Murray, the race director, had to make a tough call. The first race was curtailed to just four legs, and one by one, the teams grudgingly dropped off their foils. With all boats now sailing in displacement mode, the focus shifted to scouring the racecourse for any semblance of building pressure.
A Slow-Motion Sprint
Desperation hung in the air as the teams embarked on a slow-motion sprint. The race committee further shortened the course to just two legs, intensifying the drama. Tension mounted as all eyes scoured the water for the slightest zephyr that could make all the difference.
The Italians faced a penalty from Iain Murray and the race committee. Meanwhile, American Magic charted a course along the left-hand side of the course, hoping to locate a pocket of wind. But alas, the breeze remained elusive.
Victory in Stillness
Ultimately, France's Orient Express Racing Team triumphed, riding the lightest of breezes to the finish line. The Italians initially celebrated their second-place finish but were penalized for a premature start and subsequently relegated to last place. American Magic seized this opportunity, securing second place and a well-earned seven points.
Race 1 Results:
1st: Orient Express Racing Team (France) - 10 points
2nd: NYYC American Magic (USA) - 7 points
3rd: Team New Zealand (NZL) - 5 points
4th: Alinghi Red Bull Racing (SUI) - 3 points
5th: Ineos Britannia (GBR) - 2 points
6th: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team (ITA) - 0 points
Race 2: A Battle Against the Elements
Determined to make the most of the day, race management pressed on, offering a second race. However, the elements were unrelenting, and all teams, except Alinghi Red Bull Racing, struggled to maintain their foils at the start.
In the early stages, Alinghi emerged as the standout performer, becoming the sole AC40 to take flight within the start box. Cleverly harnessing the power of the apparent wind, they maintained their foiling advantage during the upwind leg. As they rounded the top mark while still on the foils, they surged ahead, carving a commanding lead as they transitioned to the downwind leg.
Simultaneously, Team New Zealand lifted their boat above the water's surface, propelling themselves into second place. However, the unforgiving light air conditions proved challenging for American Magic and the remaining three boats. The battle to lift their AC40s out of the water was arduous.
The race committee made a crucial decision as the Kiwis overtook Alinghi at the second mark. Recognizing the extremely light air, they shortened the race to just three legs, concluding at the windward gate. Team New Zealand demonstrated their experience in the AC40s by remaining on the foils, securing a well-deserved victory and coveted 10 points.
However, nature held its grip, and race management soon confirmed that the time limit had been reached. Consequently, race two was abruptly halted, signaling the end of racing for the day. Each team's placement on the racecourse determined the positions in this challenging race.
With another day of racing on the horizon, American Magic is poised to return, ready to conquer the unpredictable winds.
Standings at the end of Day One
1st: Team New Zealand (NZL) - 15 points Orient Express Racing Team (France) - 15 points
2nd: Orient Express Racing Team (France) - 10 points NYYC American Magic (USA) - 15 points
3rd: Alinghi Red Bull Racing (SUI) - 10 points
4th: NYYC American Magic (USA) - 9 points
5th: Ineos Britannia (GBR) - 5 points
6th: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team (ITA) - 1 point