TWO BIG WINS FOR PRADA WHILE ORACLE BMW RACING DEFEATS ONEWORLD
Excellent conditions for racing on the Hauraki Gulf saw both flights of scheduled matches sailed with the exception of one afternoon race. This was an important day for the Louis Vuitton Cup with the schedule being held to.
In the morning, Southwesterlies of 9 -14 knots made for great action on the race course. The afternoon session saw three matches sailed in winds in the mid to late teens. Le Défi was excused from its afternoon match against Oracle BMW Racing having suffered hydraulic problems during its morning race.
Prada’s Luna Rossa continued its winning run today, remaining unbeaten in six Round Robin Two matches, while Oracle BMW Racing, with Chris Dickson as skipper, won its biggest match to date, beating OneWorld Challenge.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP ROUND ROBIN TWO, RACE DAY FIVE
WIGHT LIGHTNING (GBR-70) BEAT MASCALZONE LATINO (ITA-72) – DELTA 01:40
Just minutes before the match between Mascalzone Latino (ITA-72) and Wight Lightning (GBR-70), the Italian team announced that its helmsman Paulo Cian had decided not to sail today, leaving the job to Flavio Favini. The team said that Cian was over-stressed following the loss on the previous day’s racing when a spinnaker wrap after a gybe cost them the race. Favini, who’s first America’s Cup race (helming after the start) was yesterday, now faced his first America’s Cup start entering on port and squaring up to GBR Challenge starting helmsman Andy Beadsworth. After a relatively tame pre-start routine, Wight Lightning won the start and controlled the first beat, covering Mascalzone Latino closely all the way to the first mark. The same was true of the downwind leg and the boats rounded within 27 seconds at the leeward mark. Wight Lightning went on to draw out her lead on the next two legs to win the match by a safe margin.
LUNA ROSSA (ITA-74) BEAT ORM (SWE-73) – DELTA 00:10
Jesper Bank steering Orm lead Luna Rossa off the start line at the pin end with better boat speed, with the Italian boat close on their ‘weather hip’. Tactician Torben Grael called for a tack on Prada and headed right and guided Luna Rossa to a gain on the right hand side of the race track. The Swedish boat stayed close, but was sailed above the port lay line by Prada, allowing skipper Francesco de Angelis to steer the Italian boat round the first windward mark with a 22-second lead. The tussle continued on the run, with Prada holding off the advances of the Victory Challenge with boat speed evenly matched. Half way down the run, Orm tactician Stefan Rahm called for a gybe onto port and Prada failed to cover and allowed the Swedish boat to round the second mark just eight seconds ahead. The fight stayed close and Luna Rossa bounced back to ease ahead after an exciting final gybing duel before finishing just over a boat length ahead.
USA-76 BEAT ONEWORLD (USA-67) – DELTA 00:40
This was the toughest test of the new afterguard configuration on USA-76 and skipper Chris Dickson with helmsman Peter Holmberg did a nice job in handing OneWorld its second loss. The pre-start was full of action, and OneWorld helmsman James Spithill came out looking better as Holmberg was assessed a penalty for tacking too close and making contact with OneWorld. USA-76 showed more aggression by luffing hard to shut OneWorld out from the committee boat end of the line, but in the process crossed the starting line before the gun fired. When both boats finally started, over 30-seconds late, USA-76 held a very small lead and set up on the left side of the race course. Dickson got the first shift and worked that into a 34-second lead around the top mark. OneWorld cut into that a little on the run, but on the second beat, USA-76 took advantage of a big left shift to extend its lead to the point that Dickson completed the penalty turn and still had a big enough lead to sail comfortably to the finish.
STARS & STRIPES (USA-66) BEAT LE DÉFI (FRA-69) – DELTA 01:12
Team Dennis Conner’s Ken Read won the pre-start against le Défi’s Luc Pillot, and then guided Stars & Stripes to its first victory in four matches of Round 2. Read placed Stars & Stripes to leeward of le Défi off the start line, then slowly climbed to windward, pinching the French off his windward quarter. A long port-tack drag race ensued until the top quarter of the beat where Stars & Stripes was able to bounce le Défi out to the starboard layline for a 12 second lead at the windward mark. The two boats were never more than two lengths apart down the run, with le Défi threatening to roll Stars & Stripes on numerous occasions. But Stars & Stripes kept its bow out to leeward and gained one second when they rounded the leeward mark. A tacking duel early on the second beat favoured Stars & Stripes, and they sailed away to a comfortable win.
ALINGHI (SUI-64) BEAT STARS & STRIPES (USA-66) – DELTA 00:49
Much like the Round Robin One match-up between these teams, the race was over before Stars & Stripes even crossed the starting line. Ken Read entered Stars & Stripes into the start box from the port, pin end, while Russell Coutts brought SUI-64 in on starboard. The boats dialled-up mid-line and began a game of side-slipping to port with Alinghi to the right of Stars & Stripes. The pair wound up at the pin end with less than a minute to go when Coutts powered up, sailed over Stars & Stripes bow, circled around and headed for the line. Although both boats were late crossing the line, Read, with no way on, was forced to build speed and watched Alinghi begin the match with a 10-second advantage. Stars & Stripes remained in touch halfway around the two lap course, but Alinghi sped away on the second beat, sailing the shifts better than its opponent. Coutts and crew led by more than one minute beginning the final run.
LUNA ROSSA (ITA-74) BEAT WIGHT LIGHTNING (GBR-70) – DELTA 00:16
With the final delta the biggest of the race and single figures more typical, few could argue that this had been very a close race between two evenly matched teams. The pre-start ducking and diving resulted a split tack start with Luna Rossa skipper Francesco de Angelis taking the left hand end and Wight Lightning skipper Ian Walker electing for the right. Both boats seemed keen to stay in touch and not to stray too far to the sides of the course. The result was that the first beat saw the boats bounce off each other almost all the way to the weather mark. Just before the mark, Wight Lightning managed to slip across to the right to take the inside berth to round the weather mark just four seconds ahead of Luna Rossa. The run that followed was reminiscent of the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup final between Luna Rossa and AmericaOne. Both afterguards queried the Umpires with Y- flags every few seconds as Luna Rossa tried to hold Wight Lightning to its proper course and sail the British boat out to the starboard lay line – which the Italians were successful at. By the time both boats rounded the leeward mark, Luna Rossa had slipped ahead by 9 seconds, a lead that they managed to defend to the second weather mark. The last run saw the wind steadier in direction than it’s been for days, presenting few opportunities to catch up or pass and the Italians won their second close match of the day.
ONEWORLD (USA-67) BEAT ORM (SWE-73) – DELTA 00:21
OneWorld and helmsman James Spithill reaffirmed its status as one of the class acts of this regatta in a very polished performance against a valiant attack from Sweden’s Orm. Both yachts were coming off losses in the morning and OneWorld showed it had the edge. The racing was very close right from the start, but whatever Orm skipper Jesper Bank tried, OneWorld had an answer in reply. The yachts were never more than four boat lengths apart, and often much less than that. The mark rounding deltas were 14 seconds, 9 seconds, 24 seconds and, at the finish line, 21 seconds – close but not close enough for the Swedish team.