Andrew Bray, Editor of Yachting World, watched asTeam GBR Challenge lost their first race of the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series to Team Dennis Conner
And the winners are…or would we learn more by looking at the losers? Today, the first day’s racing, everyone started with a clean slate, well nearly clean because in the ‘unofficial’ racing over the last couple of weeks, Alinghi clearly showed herself to be fast whilst the French Le Defi Areva not so fast, so perhaps it was no surprise that the latter trailed by several minutes at the end of the race, and that was without any hindrance from Greenpeace. The other underdog, the colourful Italian Mascalzone Latino team also had the misfortune to draw one of the favourite teams for race one, One World and were similarly embarrassed.
That left two matches, Prada against Oracle and the Viagra-boosted Team Dennis Conner (see earlier story) against the relatively unknown quantity of GBR Challenge. Stars and Stripes was also a bit of a dark horse as she had not indulged in any of the earlier trialling because DC did not want to risk damaging his only boat before the series started – the ill-fated USA 77 was still being repaired after sinking in early trials off San Diego. But then DC and his team have a long track record in the class and GBR none. More on this pairing later.
Prada and Oracle had the makings of a very close match but Oracle pulled out an early and apparently unassailable lead, though Prada seemed to find top gear later in the race and closed the gap, though never by enough to threaten the Americans.
So back to Dennis vs GBR. It was close, at times very close but Stars and Stripes was first out of the box, was ahead at the first crossing and even though the new kids on the block were snapping at their heels all the way round the course, the result was a victory to the Americans by just 20 seconds. Boat and sail handling on both boats was immaculate, perhaps a bit slicker on GBR, and the very narrow Stars and Stripes had a boat speed advantage downwind, partially offset by GBR’s greater manoeuvrability. However, the result, even though a defeat for GBR, certainly gives lie to some rumours that GBR 70 is slow. And this young and, in AC terms, inexperienced crew can hold their heads up at having held their own against Mr America’s Cup Team DC.
The result of this match tells us less than any of the others and a better idea of form will be had tomorrow when Team DC race Prada, whilst GBR have a layday to reflect and the fancied Victory Challenge race tomorrow for the first time against Areva.
As for the others then predictably we have top dogs Alinghi, One World and Oracle whilst last time Louis Vuitton Cup winners Prada must be doing some very intense navel gazing before tomorrow’s race.
…and finally A story in Monday’s New Zealand Herald reports that a Rottweiler called Ronan won a personalised numberplate and a year’s supply of dogfood for two (why not two years’ for one?) in a National dog show.