PRADA WINS TWO RACES AND JUMPS INTO A SHARE OF THIRD PLACE
In early racing on Wednesday, Prada’s Luna Rossa beat Mascalzone Latino to claim Italian bragging rights and finally close out Round Robin One. The defending Louis Vuitton Cup champions then went on to win their afternoon match and leapfrogged up the leader board.
Racing was delayed yet again as the breeze was initially too light for racing. But after a 35-minute postponement the Race Committee was able to hold a start and the all-Italian match was on.
In the afternoon, the light, southerly winds again meant a short delay on Juliet course before the racing began in the first flight of Round Robin Two. A close race followed between Team Dennis Conner and the GBR Challenge, while Alinghi built a handy lead over the French Le Défi squad.
But on the second downwind leg, the light wind disappeared completely, and neither of the leaders came near to completing the leg in the required 45-minutes. The races were duly abandoned before being restarted an hour later.
On Romeo course, the two Italian teams were given a short break before sailing their second matches of the day. Prada earned its second point on the day against Oracle BMW Racing, while Mascalzone Latino threw a scare into the undefeated OneWorld Challenge before eventually yielding.
All of the Round Robin Two races were held on the full length Course A.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP ROUND ROBIN ONE, FLIGHT 5
LUNA ROSSA (ITA-74) BEAT MASCALZONE LATINO (ITA-72) – DELTA 04:28
Paolo Cian steering Mascalzone Latino did a good job pre-start to hold both boats above the start line and then led the chase back to the line to start as the starting gun fired. Luna Rossa, close behind, did not quite return far enough to be completely behind the line prior to starting and the Mascalzone ‘under dogs’ were able to show a clean pair of heels to the Prada team and skipper Francesco de Angelis. Prada responded shortly after by sailing round the outside of the ‘Latin Rascals’ in the light winds. Luna Rossa then protected the right hand side of the beat and was able to make the first big jump approaching the windward mark with a big right wind shift and led by 49 seconds around the first windward mark. Thereafter tactician Torben Grael was able to guide Prada to a comfortable victory, picking the shifts cleverly to win the all Italian clash sailed over the shorter (12.5-mile) course B.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP ROUND ROBIN TWO, RACE DAY ONE
ONEWORLD (USA-67) BEAT MASCALZONE LATINO (ITA-72) – DELTA 04:01
Raced in a light and shifty southerly wind, the ‘Latin Rascals’ put up a spirited fight to lead Peter Gilmour’s OneWorld round the first two marks to nearly cause the biggest upset of the regatta so far. Paolo Cian helming Mascalzone Latino fought for the pin end of the start line and crossed the line two seconds ahead of James Spithill at the helm of OneWorld. OneWorld made initial gains on the right hand side of the first beat and started to extend ahead and looked to be in control of the battle. Italian tactician Flavio Favini put his faith in the left and split from the American boat to make a huge gain in the final quarter of the beat. Turning the race on its head, Mascalzone Latino went from what looked like a two-minute deficit to a lead of 24-seconds around the first mark. Another split developed on the run, with the Italians remaining on port gybe after the mark, whilst Gilmour took his boat out to the east in search of more wind. Initially the American boat looked to be closing, but the Italians were able to hold on and when the boats came together were still 100 metres ahead. OneWorld was able to finally get back into the lead on the third beat and took the Italians well past the starboard lay line to round ahead as the wind died. Both boats ‘parked’ shortly after hoisting spinnakers. A huge wind shift to the south east turned the downwind leg into a fetch. OneWorld was finally able to extend ahead on the third and final beat, thereafter building an unassailable lead, covering every move from the ‘Latin Rascals’.
LUNA ROSSA (ITA-74) BEAT USA-76- DELTA 01:55
Skipper Francesco de Angelis took advantage of a massive windshift to win his second race of the day aboard Luna Rossa. USA-76, with Peter Holmberg at the helm, won the start and built a handy 45-second lead at the windward mark. The Italians lost a further 29-seconds on the run and Oracle BMW Racing looked very secure. But on the second weather leg, with the American boat in a strong covering position, the wind suddenly shifted dramatically to the left. Luna Rossa was able to earn a windward position, but with the boats now well above the port tack layline, USA-76 still looked safe. However, with the wind dying near the top mark, and the boats now nearly side by side, Holmberg seemed to slow a fraction more than the Italians, and de Angelis was able to nose ahead to windward and roll over USA-76 before gybing for the mark. At this point, because of the massive shift, the Italian were actually able to hold Holmberg up from the mark, before finally relenting and leading back, eventually rounding 15-seconds clear. By the time the course was square to the wind, Prada held nearly a two-minute lead which it enjoyed through the finish.
WIGHT LIGHTNING (GBR-70) BEAT STARS & STRIPES (USA-66) – DELTA 00:46
The re-sail of this abandoned match was enthralling. Stars & Stripes, led by helmsman Ken Read, sped away on the first beat to lead by more than one minute at the first windward mark. Wight Lightning, led by skipper Ian Walker, clawed back on the first run, sailed over the top of Stars & Stripes and led by 17 seconds at the first leeward mark. Wight Lightning extended that advantage beginning the second run when Stars & Stripes began a furious charge. Read’s American crew overtook Walker’s British boys near the bottom of the 3-mile leg. But they were assessed a red-flag penalty for a port-starboard incident outside the three boat length zone of the leeward mark. Stars & Stripes, on port, failed to keep clear of the starboard tack Wight Lightning. The Umpires gave the Americans a red-flag penalty for gaining a controlling advantage, which must be taken immediately. After Stars & Stripes did its requisite 270-degree turn it fell from a 12-second lead to a 30-second deficit and never recovered.
ALINGHI (SUI-64) BEAT LE DÉFI (FRA-69) – DELTA 05:54
Alinghi (SUI-64), sailed by Russell Coutts, gybed around the committee boat as it entered the start box from that end and sailed away from the French Le Defi (FRA-69) sailed by Luc Pillot. The final approach to the line saw the French team almost force Coutts into an uncharacteristic error as the Swiss boat was forced to luff hard to get around the committee boat on port tack with the French just to weather. But the Swiss managed to get the right hand side and the leeward position to turn up the speed and bounce the French away to the left. The French were unable to stay in phase with the wind and the Swiss team started to pull ahead opening up a lead of just over a minute at the first mark. The Alinghi Team showed great confidence all day in being where the wind was and often gave up a covering position to seek a better wind slant elsewhere. The lead hovered around the 300 metres mark for the rest of the race. This seemingly straightforward win reflects the Swiss team’s confidence on the tricky Hauraki Gulf.