CLOSE RACING AS MASCALZONE LATINO WINS ITS FIRST RACE DURING AN EXCITING DAY ON THE HAURAKI GULF
The forecast heavy weather never fully materialised during racing on Saturday and the full flight of races was sailed in 9 -15 knots of northwesterly breeze.
The most exciting match of the day featured the two winless teams, the Italian Mascalzone Latino against the French Le Défi. The lead changed hands several times and the result wasn’t decided until end of the final run, when the Italians made the final pass.
Close racing was the order of the day between USA-76 and Wight Lightning as well. The first cross went to the British boat, but Oracle BMW Racing came back and it was only on the final lap of the course when the lead looked secure.
The OneWorld Challenge and Alinghi both consolidated their positions at the top of the leader board with wins today, but not before Alinghi was stretched to the limit by Sweden’s Victory Challenge. Both teams are sitting on seven points, three points clear of the third place boat.
The three remaining races from Flight Six have been scheduled for Sunday, with the two matches from Flight Five scheduled for Monday.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP ROUND ROBIN ONE, RACE DAY NINE
WIGHT LIGHTNING (GBR-70) BEAT USA-76 – DELTA 00:36
Yesterday’s win against the Swedes may have been the start of a change in fortunes for the British. Beating one of the top three teams in a close race that saw the lead change three times, seemed to suggest that GBR might be on an upswing. The pre-start duelling between the two boats was fairly tame and saw Peter Holmberg aboard USA-76 win a perfect start at the pin end, with Wight Lightning slower and sailing off the line on port tack. But the right hand side of the course proved to be the better move as the British gained from the breeze swinging to the right. With some skilful tactical sailing, USA-76 pulled back to Wight Lightning and ground her lead down by the time both had reached the weather mark. Wight Lightning held a lead of just 13 seconds. (Talk of USA-76’s slightly slower downwind pace in these conditions seemed to be confirmed as Wight Lightning pulled out slightly). The next upwind leg saw USA-76 take the lead as the boats played out opposite roles to the previous beat, USA-76 rounding ahead by 27-seconds. Once again however, Wight Lightning showed more speed downwind, enough to take their lead back. A lead that they kept and built to the finish.
ALINGHI (SUI-64) BEAT ÖRN (SWE-63) – DELTA 00:25
This race was delayed for 45-minutes when the Swedish requested a postponement due to equipment failure, likely a winch problem, When racing started, the match was like two separate contests, as Russell Coutts and Alinghi dominated the upwind legs, with Jesper Bank’s Örn making up time on every run. The pre-start featured significant engagement, with Bank eventually starting on the right, but soon falling behind as Coutts appeared to be able to call on better speed and height whenever he wanted it rounding the first windward mark 30-seconds to the good. But on the first run, Victory Challenge roared down the course, closing to within 9-seconds. That set the pattern, with Coutts adding 51-seconds to his lead on the next two beats, and Bank closing up by 31-seconds on the second run. On the final downwind leg to the finish, the Swedish boat closed the game up significantly and Bank engaged Coutts in a gybing duel, closing a little bit more with each manoeuvre. But on the fourth gybe, the Swedish spinnaker tore along a horizontal seam, and that effectively ended the race. Alinghi is the only boat to have completed its eight Round Robin One matches and will watch the rest of the action with a 7-1 record.
ONEWORLD (USA-67) BEAT LUNA ROSSA (ITA-74) – DELTA 01:11
OneWorld, with James Spithill at the helm was able to claim the right hand side of the starting box, with Prada putting up little resistance. The two yachts started on starboard tack on opposite ends of the line. Throughout the regatta so far, OneWorld has been impressive for the way in which they have established early control of their matches. Once in control, OneWorld shut down the options for their opponents, covering relentlessly and relying on boat speed, solid tactics and excellent crew-work to maintain, or extend their advantage. This match was no different and OneWorld shrugged off any attempts by Prada to make inroads, extending to a comfortable lead on the final run to the finish.
MASCALZONE LATINO (ITA-72) BEAT LE DÉFI (FRA-69) – DELTA 05:19
A battle royale between Le Défi and Mascalzone Latino made for a gripping race and a hugely exciting finish. Vincenzo Onorato’s ‘Latin Rascals’ captured the lead in the final two minutes of the race to score a memorable victory. The lead changed hands many times during the race and the Italian boat crossed the finish line just four seconds ahead, with all the Italian crew punching the air in jubilation. Le Défi was awarded a penalty for luffing above proper course with one minute to go and subsequently exonerated themselves to finish properly some five minutes later. Le Défi led by two seconds across the start line and to windward of Mascalzone. French helmsman Luc Pillot opted to protect the right hand side of the race course, with the lead swinging back and forth all the way up the first beat. The French were able to make the power of the right work for them as they approached the first windward mark and rounded seven seconds ahead, perhaps aided by the Italians breaking two jib sheets on the first beat. Mascalzone, steered by Paolo Cian recaptured the lead on the run and then protected the lead vociferously until Le Défi edged ahead approaching the final windward mark. It looked set for a French victory until the Latin Rascals engaged with just two minutes to go and stole a significant victory. The French team picked up a penalty just metres from the line.