Official reports


The weather spoiled the sailors on the Hauraki Gulf for the first time in a long while with a solid 8-13 knot north-northeast breeze and bright early summer sunshine caressing the boats around the race course.

In the heavyweight matchup, the Swiss Alinghi Challenge sailed a very strong race to hand OneWorld its first loss in the Louis Vuitton Cup. On the same race course, Prada’s Luna Rossa won its third match in two days, a convincing victory over Team Dennis Conner.

With Chris Dickson at the helm, USA-76 won its second race in six starts over Mascalzone Latino, while the Swedish Victory challenge unveiled its new weapon, Orm, to great effect over the French Le Défi.


ORM (SWE-73) BEAT LE DÉFI (FRA-69) – DELTA 01:19

Orm in its first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup beat Le Défi in a successful debut for the Swedish boat. With Jesper Bank back on the helm, the black Scandinavian boat excelled as the wind increased in a day of superb sailing conditions. Le Défi fought to start at the committee boat end of the line, whilst Bank opted for the pin end, resulting in the French boat leading over the line by just one second. Orm soon looked slightly faster, however tactician Sebastian Destremau on Le Défi did well to call the favoured right side up the first beat, showing a small gain as the boats converged with the French on starboard, close to the first mark. Le Défi tried a lee bow tack, but were unable to ‘bounce’ Orm back off to the left and its lead soon evaporated as Magnus Holmberg and team were able to sail the yellow boat past the starboard lay-line and round the first windward mark 14 seconds ahead. On the downwind leg, Orm slowly extended and despite a tacking duel on the second leg, the Scandinavian team cleverly covered Le Defi’s every move leaving the French still searching for a win after ten races.


The big news of the day was that Chris Dickson took over the helm of USA-76 from Peter Holmberg. Dickson stamped his mark on the match from the outset, gaining a controlling position over Mascalzone Latino by doing a dummy dial-up. As Mascalzone Latino helmsman Paolo Cian went head to wind, USA-76 dived back down and hooked onto their stern. Seconds before the start, Mascalzone Latino wriggled free and both yachts came off the line more or less even. The Italians launched a tacking duel on the first leg and managed to keep it close, but as soon as the yachts stretched off into a drag race, Oracle BMW Racing was able to assert superior boatspeed and make gains. Apart from the first downwind leg, USA-76 gained on every leg to finish with a commanding lead.


Russell Coutts, skippering Alinghi, handed James Spithill and the OneWorld crew its first loss of the Louis Vuitton Cup in a close contest. Coutts nearly avoided the initial dial-up in the pre-start, heading up and above Spithill immediately after entering the start box. But the OneWorld crew soon began chasing the Swiss boat, and Coutts used the spectator fleet to peel the American boat off his transom. Both boats turned back for the starting line early, and after burning the extra time, Spithill started with speed right at the pin end, while Coutts started on his weather hip and tacked away. That tack would prove to make all the difference, as the wind shifted slightly to the right and when the boats converged again, Coutts enjoyed a two boat length lead that translated into a 22-second margin at the windward mark. OneWorld gained on each downwind leg when Coutts allowed Spithill some separation, ensuring Alinghi never enjoyed more than a 29-second lead. But Coutts sailed a very tight upwind race with the lead, never giving Spithill a passing lane. These two boats and teams looked very evenly matched, and provided some great racing.


The Yacht Club Punta Ala’s Prada Challenge continued its resurgence by handling the New York Yacht Club’s Team Dennis Conner. A lively pre-start saw Prada’s Rod Davis fight for and win the pin end. That proved pivotal on the first beat as a left-hand shift gave Prada’s Luna Rossa and skipper Francesco de Angelis an early advantage on the inside. Ken Read and the Stars & Stripes crew closed up on the first run to round just 11 seconds behind, and it appeared that a furious duel was about to ensue. But Luna Rossa tactician Torben Grael protected the left side of the beat and his team was rewarded with another left-hand shift. Sailing again on the inside of Stars & Stripes in another lift, Luna Rossa opened a 29 second lead halfway through the race and never looked back.