Saturday, 24 January 2009

BMW ORACLE Racing Prepares for Louis Vuitton Pacific Series

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, Auckland: BMW ORACLE Racing preparing USA 87 and USA 98 with Emirates Team New Zealand. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

by Jane Eagleson

BMW ORACLE Racing, one of 10 world-class racing teams competing here at the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series (LVPS) starting in a week's time, has been preparing the boats on the Waitemata Harbour in what promises to be a close and exciting world-class competition.

"It's been great to be back on the water in New Zealand," said Russell Coutts, BMW ORACLE Racing skipper. "Full marks to Emirates Team New Zealand and Louis Vuitton for organizing this regatta. It's an imaginative and cost-effective way to get a lot of teams racing and the format will place a premium on sailing skills."

Four America's Cup Class (ACC) yachts - Team New Zealand's NZL 84 and 92 and BMW ORACLE Racing's USA 87 and 98 - have been simplified for the LVPS, which will use a match racing format as in the America's Cup.

BMW ORACLE Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand tuned-up this week to get the boats race-ready for the competition. This week was the first time BMW ORACLE Racing's America's Cup Class (ACC) yachts were back in action since the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup. The two teams swapped boats throughout the week to simulate the regatta format where the 10 teams will rotate through the four Cup boats.

After two days of testing in blustery conditions in the 20-plus knots, the two teams lined up Wednesday and Thursday in a moderate 10-12 knots. The race course area, situated between North Head and the volcanic island of Rangitoto, the Waitemata Harbour provides shifty conditions for the teams.

Russell Coutts is delighted to be back on the water in Auckland. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

"I think it's a great piece of water for this format," said Coutts. "It adds another dimension to the racing. All the teams here want to do well and will be trying to win. We are looking forward to some really close racing."

The regatta features ten international teams from nine countries match racing for a special trophy created by Louis Vuitton. In addition to Emirates Team New Zealand and BMW ORACLE Racing (USA), the competing teams are: Luna Rossa (ITA), Team Shosholoza (RSA), K-Challenge (FRA), Damiana Italia Challenge (ITA), Greek Challenge (GRE), Team Origin (GBR), Alinghi (SUI) and China Team (CHN).

There will be six races each day on the Waitemata off North Head, readily visible to spectators ashore and afloat. A daily draw will determine which of the four boats each team will sail.


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