With two convincing wins in a heavy breeze yesterday BMW Oracle Racing takes firm control of the UBS Trophy Regatta

BMW Oracle Racing assumed the lead in the UBS Trophy regatta with two convincing victories yesterday, one of which counted for two points. With a solid and uneventful win in the first race of the day, the two teams provided a heavy measure of excitement for crew and spectators alike as both groups had dramatic spinnaker sets at the first weather mark. BMW Oracle Racing now leads the series 5-2.

Chris Dickson (BMW Oracle Racing CEO and skipper) commented: “The courses are short but there was plenty of action. We had as much action as you could ever expect in one race.” Following a close start in the first race of the day, Alinghi took BMW Oracle Racing to the eastern shore of Narragansett Bay much as they did in the first race of the series. After the boats tacked away from the spectator area at Fort Adams, BMW Oracle Racing tactician John Kostecki and helmsman Gavin Brady duelled with their rivals up the first windward leg. At the top mark, exhibiting what appeared to be slightly better boat speed, BMW Oracle Racing rounded 22 seconds ahead. That interval increased throughout the race with BMW Oracle Racing never surrendering the lead. The margin at the gun was 35 seconds.

The winds built to 20 knots for a spectacular second race. While BMW Oracle Racing overtook Alinghi on the first beat after the Swiss team gained a slight advantage at the start. The two yachts split tacks with BMW Oracle Racing choosing the right-hand side of the course. That proved a key tactical move. As the yachts came together the first time, BMW Oracle Racing had a one-boat length lead.

But trouble surfaced as the teams approached the first mark. BMW Oracle Racing pushed Alinghi out to the left of the layline and a brief luffing duel ensued. When the boats untangled and rounded the mark, they had less than a boat length of separation.

As BMW Oracle Racing set its spinnaker, the sail ripped. As the crew struggled to get it down and another one set, Alinghi failed to keep sufficiently clear and received a penalty. At almost the same time, Alinghi had problems with its spinnaker set. Their chute also tore and the crew had difficulty dropping it.

As BMW Oracle Racing wrestled with its spinnaker and manoeuvred to keep Alinghi at bay, bowman Brad Webb fell overboard and had to be returned to the yacht by the chase boat. This resulted in a penalty against BMW Oracle Racing, which offset the Alinghi penalty.

“It wasn’t his fault,” Dickson said of Webb’s spill. “He was doing what he was supposed to do.” With both yachts headed down the run sorting out their respective spinnaker issues, BMW Oracle Racing opened up a substantial lead they never relinquished. The margin at the finish was 48 seconds.

Dickson added: “The racing today was similar to what we experience on the match race circuit except we are competing in 80ft America’s Cup boats rather than 30ft boats. It is unbelievably close racing and we look forward to more action in the next race of the series.”