Official race reports
ONEWORLD COMPLETE ROUND ONE UNBEATEN ON THE WATER
OneWorld Challenge continued their relentless march through the opening round of the Louis Vuitton Cup, defeating Oracle BMW Racing in their closing match to emerge as the only unbeaten team in the fleet.
The race saw the fiercest start of the series so far, with both yachts executing very tight turns at close quarters. Control shifted from one team to the other, with OneWorld slightly ahead at the starting gun.
Racing on the Hauraki Gulf took place in mixed conditions, with moderate south-westerlies punctuated by some strong squalls. To catch up with the race schedule, two flights of races were scheduled for the day, on shortened courses, one flight in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The French le Defi AREVA team gained a lucky reprieve when their match against Team Dennis Conner was abandoned because the wind exceeded the 23 knot limit for more than 5 minutes. The abandonment came after le Defi suffered a broken forestay, which immediately put them out of the match.
The British GBR-Challenge beat Mascalzone Latino, despite sailing over their spinnaker at the first leeward mark rounding.
Mascalzone Latino were due to meet Prada Challenge in an all-Italian battle today, but the match was postponed because the Latin Rascals suffered damage in their earlier match.
In the afternoon, Stars & Stripes sailed the course alone after le Defi did not start because of their broken forestay. Oracle BMW Racing’s USA-76 was also left more or less to sail its own race after Sweden’s Örn broke their headsail halyard early in the first beat and were unable to re-hoist their genoa.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP ROUND ROBIN ONE, RACE DAY 10
STARS & STRIPES (USA-66) BEAT LE DÉFI (FRA-69) – FRA-69 DNS
Team Dennis Conner picked up its fourth win in eight matches in one of the most unusual matches of Round 1. Stars & Stripes gained the point when le Défi was disqualified for failing to start the match within 15 minutes of the start time. The result occurred after the first attempt to complete the match was abandoned due to strong winds. In the first attempt, Stars & Stripes led off the line by 1 second, but le Défi helmsman Luc Pillot gained the controlling position soon after and led by 31 seconds around the windward mark. Stars & Stripes regained the lead and was stretching away on the third leg of the four-leg course, when drama struck on the French yacht. Approaching the windward mark, le Défi’s headstay failed in winds around 22 knots. The headstay went limp, overloading the genoa halyard and pulling the halyard winch off the deck as the sail fell in the water. Shortly thereafter the race committee abandoned the race because the wind strength exceeded the 23-knot limit. Unable to fix the headstay, le Défi was disqualified from the second attempt at the match. Stars & Stripes started and sailed the first 15 minutes, as required, to earn the point.
ONEWORLD (USA-67) BEAT USA-76 – DELTA 00:40
An incredible pre-start sequence saw Peter Holmberg, USA-76 helmsman, execute an amazing gybe, ducking between OneWorld, helmed by James Spithill, and the pin end of the starting line, with just inches to spare on both sides of the boat. The manoeuvre allowed Holmberg to escape a precarious position, and start on essentially even terms with OneWorld. Earlier, Spithill got in control with some sharp boat movement of his own, and this was a pre-start that was full of action. Both boats started on starboard tack with OneWorld a couple of boat lengths to leeward. Spithill was slowly able to climb to windward enough that Holmberg was forced to tack away. The wind shifted slightly to the left, and with OneWorld on the left side of the course, Spithill earned the advantage, and led USA-76 around the top mark by 22-seconds. OneWorld doubled its lead on the first run and added a further 18-seconds on the second beat, going on to win the race and become the only team to finish Round Robin One with a perfect record.
WIGHT LIGHTNING (GBR-70) BEAT MASCALZONE LATINO (ITA-72 ) – DELTA 00:54
Mascalzone Latino steered by Paolo Cian opted for the starboard end of the line and initially led off from the start. Andy Beadsworth guided Wight Lightning to the pin end of the line and the GBR Challenge boat soon got into her stride to recapture the lead. The Latin Rascals held onto their position close to the right of Wight Lightning and both boats lined up for a long tack on starboard. Italian tactician, Flavio Favini called for the first tack after three minutes when it became apparent that the Brits were starting to extend to leeward. British tactician Adrian Stead responded immediately and held a close cover to lead by 22 seconds round the first mark. Thereafter the GBR Challenge team slowly extended and were never really threatened again by Mascalzone Latino on the shortened ‘B’ course (two laps only).
USA-76 BEAT ÖRN (SWE-63 ) – DELTA 10:45
After three attempts at getting a start sequence away in winds constantly nudging the top limit, the Race Committee were finally successful. Just inside the 4pm deadline, the yachts were on their way. USA-76, helmed by Peter Holmberg, managed to gain control of the start and led over the line with Orn directly astern and 12 seconds behind. Orn, helmed for the first time in this round by Magnus Holmberg instead of Jesper Bank, suffered a breakdown early in the first beat when their headsail halyard failed. The Swedish team sailed both upwind legs without a headsail and USA-76 sailed away.