All of yesterday’s winners repeated on Friday, despite some close racing. The results mean the French Le Défi team is one loss away from being eliminated from the Louis Vuitton Cup.
Both Alinghi and Oracle BMW Racing can win their series and advance directly to the Semi-Finals with one more win.
Team Dennis Conner and GBR Challenge are in the closest series, with the Americans up 2-1, but the races themselves have been very lopsided for the past two days, with the Stars & Stripes crew shrugging off a first match loss to turn in two dominating performances.
The conditions were favourable for racing again, with Southwesterlies of 13-18 knots on the Hauraki Gulf.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP QUARTER-FINALS, RACE DAY THREE
ORM (SWE-73) BEAT LE DÉFI (FRA-69) – DELTA 01:12 ORM LEADS THE BEST-OF-SEVEN BY 3-0
The Swedish march towards the repechage continues despite a change of helm on Orm, with Magnus Holmberg stepping behind the wheel and helping to provide another polished performance for Victory Challenge. On board conversations as the boats entered the pre-start, indicated that the Le Défi afterguard wanted the right side of the start and the Swedes the left. After some early aggressive moves by Le Défi, the boats approached the line early, resulting in a split tack start with the French boat taking the right and Orm the pin end. Orm tacked onto port at the pin end, crossing the line with good speed and the first shift proved to be a left-hander that helped the Swedes into an early lead. Fractionally better boat speed on the Victory Challenge yacht soon allowed Orm to get into its stride and consolidate a lead. Two minutes into the race, Le Défi gave up the right hand side of the course and tacked to cross behind Orm and allowed the Swedes to gain further from the next right hand shift. Orm rounded the first windward mark 45-seconds ahead and then inexorably extended to win by another comfortable margin.
USA-76 BEAT ONEWORLD (USA-65) – DELTA 00:19 USA-76 LEADS THE BEST-OF-SEVEN BY 3-0
There was a lot of action in the pre-start, but as the countdown progressed, the boats split off and started at opposite ends of the start line, with OneWorld helmsman James Spithill at the Committee Boat and USA-76 at the pin end on the left. A quick left shift favoured USA-76 skipper Chris Dickson on the left, but the OneWorld crew hung in and was rewarded for its patience with a big wind shift to the right. Spithill converted this advantage into a tenuous eight-second lead at the top mark, but Dickson sailed USA-76 like a demon on the run. The Oracle BMW boat showed great speed, and Dickson, and helmsman Peter Holmberg positioned it well, eventually taking OneWorld well past the layline before gybing back to lead around the bottom mark. From here Dickson covered well, and extended to the finish.
STARS & STRIPES (USA-77) BEAT WIGHT LIGHTNING (GBR-70) – DELTA 02:10 STARS & STRIPES LEADS BEST-OF-SEVEN SERIES BY 2-1
Team Dennis Conner and GBR Challenge have put on entertaining matches in Louis Vuitton Cup 2003. They split their first four encounters, two in the round robins and two in the quarterfinals, and each was entertaining. Today, however, Team Dennis Conner got down to business and convincingly beat GBR Challenge to gain the upper hand in the quarterfinal series. An innocuous pre-start saw Ken Read place Stars & Stripes to leeward and ahead of Wight Lightning, started by Andy Beadsworth who later handed off to skipper Ian Walker. Soon after the start Wight Lightning tacked away to port. Stars & Stripes continued on starboard for a short bit, tacked to port and into a lift. From there, Stars & Stripes showed boatspeed previously not seen and patient, covering tactics. The Americans padded their lead on every leg and stormed to a runaway win.
ALINGHI (SUI-64) BEAT LUNA ROSSA (ITA-74) – DELTA 0:08 ALINGHI LEADS THE BEST-OF-SEVEN BY 3-0
For the second day running, Alinghi beat Prada by exactly the same delta – just eight-seconds. But, despite close finishes, Alinghi dominated this enthralling battle between two very strong European teams. In today’s match, Alinghi and skipper Russell Coutts, continued to show a speed edge upwind and gained early control of the race. However, Italian skipper Francesco de Angelis kept it close and were ready to pounce on any mistake. At the second leeward mark rounding, Alinghi’s foredeck crew allowed their spinnaker to go under the bow. Alinghi led around the mark, but Prada rounded close behind and tacked away immediately. Alinghi’s housekeeping problems prevented them from tacking to cover and Prada gained the right hand advantage and took the lead. However, Alinghi’s upwind strength and a left-hand windshift saw them power back into the lead just before the windward mark rounding. Despite Prada’s determined efforts, the Swiss held on to the lead down the run and took the gun again