Sunday, May 6, 2007


So the top three boats are now untouchable--BMW Oracle, Luna Rossa, and Emirates Team New Zealand--and Desafío Español is out of reach of Victory Challenge barring a shift in the laws of gravity--but there still are sparks of interest as we come to the last two days (Hallelujah baby! Let's cut some boats!) of round robin racing. I'd count Monday's matchup of Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand as a spark of interest, and Sunday's race between Shosholoza and Mascalzone Latino, that got me going.

They mixed it up good in the prestart, with Shosholoza helmsman Paolo Cian putting some moves on the Latin Rascals (Jes Gram-Hansen has generally been an ace starting helmsman for the Italians) and laying on a penalty for failing to keep clear as Shosholoza, to leeward, swung into the wind. As it turned out, that was the ball game. After the start, Gram-Hansen turned the helm over to Cameron Dunn (this is Cameron; I've seen him happier) who drove Mascalzone into the lead. But with a penalty turn left to burn--a minimum of 30 seconds--that gave us a whole race in which to wonder and wait. The Italian boat was pulling away. Then the South African boat was gaining. The Italian boat was pulling away. Then the South African boat was gaining. Did I mention that already? And reaching down to the finish, Dunn stretched a bit, but it was thin. Thin as the foils on an AC boat. And Dunn made his spin. And stalled. And Shosholoza got through.

There's a new continent in town. Welcome to the America's Cup, Africa.

Dunn said, "We knew we'd have to do the turn perfectly. We didn't."

With the loss, Mascalzone joined Shosholoza in the ranks of the mathematically eliminated.

Ian Ainslie, who is sort of the godfather of the Shosholoza crew, was ready to look forward.

Quote Unquote Ian Ainslie

On the round robins:
"We have two more races, and they're winnable. Areva and +39. We respect both of them, but those races are winnable."

On continuing to the next Cup:
We really haven't spoken of it inside the team. We're too heads-down. It's a rumor to us, but yes, we keep hearing that we're going to keep going, and we'll have a two boat program next time. We were supposed to have a two-boat program this time . . ."

Would two boats have been good? Or a distraction? The latter:
"But we're at a point where we could profit from a two-boat program. This is a really good boat."

On highlights:
"When we beat Prada!"

On going home to a whole new life:
"No, I'll be going back to work [he's a teacher] and life will be the same."

With its pro-forma win over China Team, Emirates Team New Zealand locked a spot in the semis, but the number one spot--and with it, the right to pick your opponent--is still in play. There's a mere two-point spread between BMW Oracle, Luna Rossa, and Emirates. One of the big three is sure to lose on Monday, with Luna Rossa racing Emirates. And Oracle goes against Mascalzone Latino, which is not an opponent you can take for granted. It was the Mascalzone upset of the Kiwis that set off the first sparks in round robin racing. But it's time to cut some boats.

Now for a few shots I picked up by taking the long way home on Saturday after talking to Juan K (see the web story at SAIL.

We're backstage at an outdoor festival . . .

And now we're coming out "on stage" in the Plaza de la Virgens, and somebody's hat keeps falling off . . .

But with the hat in place, it's time to please the folks.

Every kid loves a jumping contest . . .

But who can jump as high as a man on stilts?

I'm not going there, mate. This was all part of the Festival de la otra Mirada (the other look) which is happening around town through July, to complement the sailboat racing that's happening at the port. There was music, dance, and an art show, and more to come, so they say. Life can be good in España—Kimball