A shock result on Day 2 of Round Robin 2. Matthew Sheahan reports on a breezy day at the Cup.

 As the Chinese crossed the finish line the body language said it all, arms in the air, smiles all round and high fives. Few, if any, would have given the China Team a chance against the super power BMW Oracle Racing, two teams separated by the biggest margin in the Louis Vuitton rankings. The American team at the top, the Chinese at the bottom.

The problems started for the American team when their headsail blew out of the headfoil a third of the way up the first beat. Re-hoisting another headsail had the same result and BMW Oracle were forced to sail the remainder of the upwind leg under mainsail alone as the Chinese stretched out their lead to over 4 minutes.

Despite managing to raise a smaller headsail and keep it in place for the next upwind leg, the Chinese were simply too far ahead and went on to take their first win this year.

Of course one win won’t change the Chinese fortunes, but there’s little doubt that given their structural problems with their mast gate and more importantly, hull to keel connection, getting around the course was a success and gained them a clear victory.

But spare a thought for the crew of BMW Oracle as they took a broken boat back to the dock on a day when Chris Dickson, Larry Ellison and most of the ‘A’ team had stepped off for the day, presumably to allow the ‘B’ team some real race course action and give their ‘A’ team a break. In a match against the bottom ranked Chinese, what could possibly go wrong?

Charging around the box like a raging bull in the pre-start was perhaps a suggestion that today’s crew were enjoying the prospect of a real match with the prospect of placing some more points on the board but, as one commentator and ex-Cup crewman said, this is precisely the kind of match where a strong team racing a weak team has nothing to gain and everything to lose.

Another team who discovered the hard way just how damaging gear failures can be was Iain Percy’s 39.

Having led the Spanish team around the course for virtually all of the race, despite a string of problems and breakdowns, the final run across the finish line saw Desafio Espanol take the lead by one second.
In their second match of the day against Areva Challenge, the race was once again very close but ended with the same result for Percy’s team, despite holding the upper hand for most of the race.

To his credit, the British skipper is always quick to take defeat on the chin and explain the problems. This evening was no different.

“We failed in a lot of areas, myself included. The boat let us down as well, but as I said to the crew on the way in, I probably made 20 mistakes today and if I’d only made 10 we probably would have won the race,” he said. “But it comes down to the way we prepared the boat and if you only get set up on the day before the first race you’re simply not going to be ready.

“We are however still disappointed at not scoring points in two races that we had been leading comfortably.”

Meanwhile, the team that started the event underperforming and have got better with each day’s racing has been the Areva team. Beating both Mascalzone Latino and 39 has seen the French team make a last minute scale of the scoreboard. Success in reaching the semi finals looks unlikely but not impossible. And if there was one race that proved that anything is possible, it was today with the Chinese takeaway.


Flight 3
Shosholoza BEAT United Internet Team Germany
China Team BEAT BMW Oracle Racing
Luna Rossa BEAT Victory Challenge
Areva BEAT Mascalzone Latino

Flight 2
Emirates Team New Zealand BEAT Mascalzone Latino
Areva BEAT 39

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