LE DÉFI ADVANCES, ALINGHI CLAIMS FIRST PLACE MASCALZONE LATINO IS KNOCKED OUT
A big win today by the French Le Défi team knocked the ‘Latin Rascals’ out of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Skipper Luc Pillot’s French team led from start to finish and confirmed eighth position on the leaderboard and a place in the Quarter-Finals.
With two wins on Saturday, the Alinghi Challenge confirmed its status at the top of the leaderboard, and will have the honour of choosing its opponent for the Quarter-Finals.
Alinghi’s win over GBR Challenge in the afternoon also confirmed Victory Challenge in fifth place, the top position in the second group. The Swedish team will also pick its opponent for Round Robin Two.
It was a good day for racing on Saturday with strong 15-18 knot Westerlies bolstered by the occasional rain squall streaking across the Hauraki Gulf.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP ROUND ROBIN TWO, RACE DAY SEVEN
LE DÉFI (FRA-69) BEAT MASCALZONE LATINO (ITA-72) – DELTA 01:10
The whole French team punched the air in unison to the sweet sound of the finishing gun winning the big decider against Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino. Sadly it meant the end for the popular ‘Latin Rascals’ who have added colour and emotion to the Louis Vuitton Cup. After an even start, with the Italian’s wanting and winning the pin end of the line, French skipper Luc Pillot tacked off to the right and made the first decisive gain on the right hand side of the race course. The blustery conditions suited Le Défi and they fiercely protected their lead and covered Mascalzone Latino’s every move. After ‘herding’ the Italians to the port lay line, passing options ran out for the ‘Latin Rascals’ and the French boat was able to slowly build up an unassailable lead to huge Gallic relief.
ONEWORLD (USA-67) BEAT LUNA ROSSA (ITA-74) – DELTA 00:54
OneWorld skipper Peter Gilmour and his number one helmsman James Spithill were back on board today, looking to hand Italian skipper Francesco de Angelis his first loss of Round Robin Two. OneWorld escaped a tricky situation just crossing ahead of Luna Rossa in the pre-start and went on to claim the left-hand side of the race course. Spithill enjoyed just enough of a left shift that he was able to cross ahead of Luna Rossa and switch sides, nearly two-thirds of the way up the first beat. Now on the right, OneWorld rammed home its advantage when the wind oscillated right, and Spithill led around the top mark by 22-seconds. At the bottom mark, the crew of Luna Rossa had trouble getting the genoa raised, and OneWorld sailed away, winning an important race.
ALINGHI (SUI-64) BEAT ORM (SWE-73) – DELTA 00:29
In an important match for both teams as they jockey for position on the leaderboard, the pre-start featured Alinghi skipper Russell Coutts pinning Orm’s Jesper Bank above the start line for nearly 2 minutes. Bank finally escaped Coutts’ control by gybing close to the Race Committee boat. The pair returned to the line early on starboard with Coutts to windward. The Swiss team skipper tacked to port with about 20 seconds to go and Bank matched. The two started the match fairly even, with Orm to windward on port tack. An uneventful beat saw Alinghi gain control via oscillations in the wind. There were four tacks on the 3.25-mile leg, with Alinghi remaining to the right of Orm. The run saw a similar number of limited manoeuvres, a total of eight gybes, and Alinghi led by 20 seconds after the first lap. Coutts and tactician Brad Butterworth are among the most relentless match-racers in the world, and they didn’t give Orm any breathing room on the second beat to stretch their lead to 40 seconds en route to victory.
USA-76 BEAT WIGHT LIGHTNING (GBR-70) – DELTA 02:00
A hard fought pre-start duel saw GBR Challenge come under serious pressure from Oracle BMW Racing with the American team eventually forcing a penalty on the British boat. The incident happened as starting helmsman Andy Beadsworth tried to tack Wight Lightning onto starboard in front of Oracle BMW Racing. The American’s protested and GBR Challenge had a penalty awarded against them. Seconds later, USA-76 helmsman Peter Holmberg pinned Wight Lightning out to the right and above the start line, holding the British boat there until both boats were committed to being late at the starting gun. But Holmberg had the luxury of leading back to the starting line, and for Wight Lightning the damage had been done – starting behind and with a penalty against them was going to make life difficult against Oracle BMW Racing. By the weather mark USA-76 had pulled out nearly a minute and always appeared to have more speed. Throughout the rest of the race the British managed little more than to hang on, with the penalty turn adding insult to injury on the final delta.
USA-76 VS. ORM (SWE-73) – RACE POSTPONED
Oracle BMW Racing was excused from racing and the match was postponed due to damage incurred during USA-76’s first match of the day.
ALINGHI (SUI-64) BEAT WIGHT LIGHTNING (GBR-70) – DELTA 01:26
The pre-start action was close and aggressive on both boats with Andy Beadsworth and Russell Coutts keeping each other on their toes. At the start Alinghi took the left hand end of the line and Wight Lightning the right. But just seconds after the start, Alinghi appeared to be sailing higher than Wight Lightning, a mode that continued throughout the race. At the weather mark the delta was 38 seconds and 54 seconds at the leeward mark. During the downwind leg Alinghi appeared to suffer a batten car failure on one of the upper battens which caused them some concern. But at the weather mark they had extended their lead and had the problem under control with a man up the mast to help the mainsail across in the one and only gybe of the leg.
ONEWORLD (USA-67) BEAT STARS & STRIPES (USA-66) – DELTA 01:19
This result of this match was essentially determined before the start. During the pre-start, Stars & Stripes was left very slow and vulnerable as it spun very hard in a tack. OneWorld helmsman James Spithill seized the opportunity and bore in hard on starboard tack, forcing Stars & Stripes starting helmsman Terry Hutchinson to try and tack away. However, the evading action was too slow and too late and Stars & Stripes was penalized. From then on, there was little doubt about the final outcome as OneWorld led off the start and extended its lead. With Stars & Stripes still carrying a penalty, its only hope was a major mistake from OneWorld, and that never came.