A SUCCESSFUL MORNING SESSION, BUT THREE OF FOUR AFTERNOON MATCHES CANCELLED
With pressure building to complete Round Robin Two on time, two flights of races were scheduled today. After successfully completing four short-course matches in fresh southwesterly winds this morning, the afternoon session was reduced to one match because of damage.
The morning’s racing saw victories for Luna Rossa over le Défi, Alinghi over Mascalzone Latino, Orm over Stars & Stripes and OneWorld over Wight Lightning. Orm also won its afternoon match over Mascalzone Latino.
Neither Luna Rossa (ITA-74), nor le Defi (FRA-69) was able to race in the afternoon, which meant their matches against Alinghi and Wight Lightning respectively had to be postponed. Luna Rossa suffered unspecified winch damage, while le Defi broke one of its jumper struts.
Then drama unfolded on the Romeo course when Stars & Stripes forced a halt to racing, claiming that damage incurred to their yacht during the morning meant they were unable to proceed. Just before Stars & Stripes (USA-66) and USA-76 were about to go into a starting sequence, a call went out from the Team Dennis Conner yacht reporting damage.
An umpire and chief measurer Ken McAlpine went aboard USA-66 to inspect the problem, which appeared to be to the port-side genoa car system.
Because the delay meant racing could not resume before the 4pm deadline for starting, the race had to be abandoned. The crew on Stars & Stripes said they were not willing to agree to a start after 4pm, even though their opponents, Oracle BMW Racing, and the Race Committee both said they were prepared to continue. Immediately after Stars & Stripes declined to extend the deadline, Oracle BMW Racing announced they were initiating a red-flag protest.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP ROUND ROBIN TWO, RACE DAY THREE
LUNA ROSSA (ITA-74) BEAT LE DÉFI (FRA-69) – DELTA 01:04
This was a closer race than the final delta indicates, with the lead changing at the halfway point, and neither boat able to hold more than a three-boatlength advantage until late in the contest. Luc Pillot, skippering Le Défi had a strong pre-start, pressuring Luna Rossa before tacking away for a split tack start. The Italian skipper, Francesco de Angelis, suffered a tough moment on the weather leg, his boat sailing into a hole, while the French streaked ahead of him. When the boats finally crossed, halfway up the leg, Pillot enjoyed a two-length lead. It was a close contest at the top mark, with de Angelis luffing up on starboard tack, trying, but unable, to reach the French boat, which swept ahead of him on port tack, rounding five-seconds ahead. On the downwind leg, the Italians were able to get ahead, and Pillot just missed out on an inside overlap at the bottom mark, Luna Rossa rounding clear ahead. Playing the shifts on the final beat, ITA-74 stretched away, eventually winning by a comfortable margin.
ALINGHI (SUI-64) BEAT MASCALZONE LATINO (ITA-72) – DELTA 02:11
Working the right hand side of the first beat, Russell Coutts and his crew onboard Alinghi sailed a near faultless first leg, to round the first mark 53 seconds ahead of the ‘Latin Rascals’. The opening gambit of the pre-start was a ‘dial up’ that allowed Coutts to sail astern to get into a position to force Paolo Cian at the helm of Mascalzone Latino to tack off. He then jumped onto the stern of the Italian boat to take up a controlling position. Alinghi broke off the control with 50 seconds to go, opting to set up a committee boat end start, leaving the Italians a free run to start at the pin end. The Swiss boat hit the line at speed and quickly took the lead after making the most from the first right hand wind shift. Tactician Brad Butterworth did a splendid job of covering the Italians’ every move, as well as calling the shifts and knowing when to separate to make a bigger gain in the shifting wind. Alinghi’s superior boatspeed helped the Swiss extend and by a third of the way down the first run, they looked unassailable and slowly extended further to win by a convincing margin.
ORM (SWE-73) BEAT STARS & STRIPES (USA-66) – DELTA 00:13
Sweden’s Victory Challenge scored its second triumph over Team Dennis Conner simply by being in better position on the racecourse and using solid match-race tactics. The Swedes, led by Danish helmsman Jesper Bank, started to the left of Ken Read and Stars & Stripes. While Read was forced to tack away shortly after the start, Bank continued on starboard and took up the left side of the beat. At the first cross there was nothing in it, but at the second cross about halfway up the beat Orm had opened a two-boatlength lead. The Swedish boat showed good form upwind. Conversely, Stars & Stripes gained on both runs. But Orm’s upwind pace outweighed Stars & Stripes downwind advantage, and the Scandinavian crew held on for their second win in a row while Stars & Stripes dropped its third straight.
ONEWORLD (USA-67) BEAT WIGHT LIGHTNING (GBR-70) – DELTA 01:05
A conventional dial up at the start quickly turned into a push and shove pre-start with OneWorld keeping pressure on the British starting helmsman Andy Beadsworth for much of the pre-start. Yet, what might have looked like a clear advantage to the American team at first, quickly turned into an even start with OneWorld tacking off just seconds before the start to take the committee boat side of the line. With the boats starting on split tacks, Wight Lightning had a slight advantage up the first half of the first beat. But as the boats sailed across the course on a long port tack, OneWorld seemed to put more pressure to the pedal and climbed up towards Wight Lightning’s line, pulling out a decent lead in the process. From there on OneWorld slowly but surely drew out her lead.
ORM (SWE-73) BEAT MASCALZONE LATINO (ITA-72) – DELTA 01:17
After an aggressive early pre-start by Paolo Cian helming Mascalzone Latino, Orm’s Jesper Bank did well to wriggle free from the clutches of the Latin Rascals and got the best start at the pin end with better boat speed. The Swedish boat soon built a commanding lead and took their second gun of the day. Mascalzone Latino’s owner, Vincenzo Onorato helmed for the final downwind leg, but was unable to dent the Swedish lead.