GBR Challenge have recorded their first victory on New Zealand waters, beating the American One World team by five seconds

GBR Challenge have recorded their first victory on New Zealand waters, beating the American One World team by five seconds in today’s racing at the Road to the America’s Cup Regatta.

This victory gives the British team the chance of making the finals of the event, should they win both of their races tomorrow and the American team lose their remaining contests.

Syndicate Founder and Chairman Peter Harrison commented: “I’m thrilled that we have got a win on the board to give ourselves a chance of reaching the final.” After a three hour wait for the wind to fill in, a six knot breeze arrived from the north and the race committee set a two and a half mile course. In the first race, GBR Challenge was up against America’s Cup defenders Team New Zealand. GBR 52 and NZL 60 locked horns to windward of the line, with both yachts head to wind. The British team was the first to make a move. As Dean Barker’s boat was slightly over on starboard tack, GBR 52 escaped onto port tack and bore away towards the line. By the time NZL 60 had tacked, GBR Challenge held a two boat length lead back towards the line.

GBR 52 headed off to the left, while NZL tacked off to the right-hand side of the course. Six minutes later the teams crossed and it was Team New Zealand that held a 200 yard lead. Although the British team managed to reduce the New Zealanders lead at each mark, they did not regain enough ground to challenge the America’s Cup holders.

The victory over One World in the second race of the day was one of the most thrilling races of the regatta so far. Helmsman Andy Beadsworth again won the pre-start to give his team the right-hand side and, as the teams converged, One World was forced to tack. The second time the teams came together One World ducked and GBR continued; skipper Ian Walker explained the decision. “We decided that if we were being lifted, we’d continue as they’d then get headed after ducking us. As they came at us, we chose this option, but unfortunately we ended up in a header and they got a lift which allowed them to get past us.”

GBR Challenge continued to threaten One World and after a series of tacking manoeuvres, the British team managed to inflict a penalty, as One World helmsman James Spithill tacked too close to GBR 52 and Beadsworth had to take evasive action.

At the windward mark, the American team led by 27 seconds and immediately gybed to the right-hand side. The British afterguard of Walker and Stead elected to take the left, which paid handsomely as GBR 52 crossed a boat length ahead of USA55 halfway down the run.

GBR Challenge rounded the leeward mark with a lead of 24 seconds which they extended up the run to take a 56 second lead into the final leg. One World clawed their way back, as GBR 52 gybed three quarters of the way to the layline, in a bid to defend their position on the run. One World stayed on the left-hand side of the course for longer and took advantage of the increased pressure to reach the line first. However, as they offloaded their penalty, GBR Challenge crossed the finish line to gain their first win of the regatta.