Oracle BMW Racing team beat Alinghi again yesterday and now leads the Owner-Driver series at the Moet Cup, 2-0

Larry Ellison, the Oracle BMW Racing team owner, showed that his practice sessions over the past month were well worth the time as he sailed a very strong race yesterday, to beat Alinghi, and take a 2-0 lead in the Owner-Driver series at the Moet Cup.

The America’s Cup winning Alinghi team found no relief in the Pro-Driver race either, as Oracle BMW won its third consecutive race to take a 3-1 lead in the seven-race series.

The weather conditions were spectacular once again on San Francisco Bay, and the local sailing fans responded with a 70-boat strong spectator fleet, and big crowds lining the sea wall and breakwaters along the racecourse.

Larry Ellison won the start over Ernesto Bertarelli and never looked back, converting a three-second advantage over the start line into a dominant lead.

Ellison led Alinghi back towards the start line, and was in a strong position, just to leeward of SUI-64. He luffed hard, closing the gap, and forced Bertarelli to respond. As the ALINGHI boat slowed, head to wind, Ellison put his bow down and accelerated to the start line. Although both boats were late, it was the American who crossed the line first.

Both skippers looked to escape the strong flood current by tacking up in the lee of Alcatraz Island. With his start line lead, Ellison was able to cover Alinghi at every turn, and although Bertarelli tried to escape by throwing in 11-tacks in the one-mile beat to the Island, the Oracle BMW Racing team didn’t let him escape.

The boats sailed past Alcatraz and then held a long tack in towards the city. Again, Ellison stayed with Bertarelli, and led him around the top mark by 36-seconds, the biggest lead to this point of the Moet Cup.

The Alinghi team couldn’t find any passing opportunities for the rest of the race, and were forced to follow USA-76 around the course. But that didn’t stop the sailors from thrilling the crowd assembled on shore, as both boats tacked in towards the shoreline. At one point, the spectators at Fort Mason could nearly step off the pier, and land on deck.

After a short postponement of the first start sequence, racing started in a 15-20kt westerly, and both teams immediately engaged in the traditional dial-up.

After a long time spent head-to-wind, Oracle BMW helmsman Gavin Brady broke away first, with Alinghi in close pursuit. The teams began circling downwind of the committee boat. As they broke for the line, Alinghi skipper Jochen Schuemann caught the American team on a close starboard-port incident, but Brady was able to tack quickly, and come out ahead and to leeward with the teams racing for the start line.

As the gun fired, the Oracle BMW crew was slightly ahead, and to leeward, and as both boats tacked, USA-76 settled into a strong controlling position, slightly ahead and upwind of SUI-64. Alinghi tried to escape, but the Oracle BMW team held cover and led into the top mark by 22-seconds.

Alinghi continued its trend of making gains downwind, and closed up on the first run, but the Swiss team never found a passing lane in this race, and fell by 40-seconds to Oracle BMW.

With the win, skipper Chris Dickson’s Oracle BMW Racing team takes a 3-1 lead in the Pro-Driver series for the Moet Cup.

Racing continues on this afternoon, with two races scheduled, one in each of the Pro-Driver and Owner-Driver series.


Moet Cup – Owner-Driver Series

Race two of five)

Oracle BMW Racing (USA-76) beats Alinghi (SUI-64) – Delta 0:38

Pro Driver Series (race four of seven)

Oracle BMW Racing beats Alinghi – Delta 0:40