Thursday, 12 February 2009
Alinghi pipped BMW ORACLE Racing on the line, after the latter had led for most of the race. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.
by Louis Vuitton Pacific Series media
Race 1: BMW ORACLE Racing beat Luna Rossa, 09s
Russell Coutts showed why he is still a master of match racing, astounding sailing experts by exquisitely executing a penlaty turn at the finish line and driving BMW ORACLE Racing to victory over Luna Rossa in their quarter final thriller. In the pre-start, Coutts made it clear he wanted the left, and did a sterling job holding out Luna Rossa, with Peter Holmberg at the helm. Both boats crossed the start line on starboard tack, with BMW ORACLE marginally ahead, but it wasn't long before Luna Rossa had to tack away.
BMW ORACLE Racing leads Luna Rossa Challenge upwind. Image copyright Stefano Gattini/Damiani Italia Challenge.
Coutts tacked in response and managed to protect the left all the way to the first mark, but could not shake a dogged Italian attack. As the boats rounded the mark, the American boat copped a penalty for failing to keep clear of the Italians, but that penalty was negated almost immediately when Luna Rossa was flagged for ssailing above its proper course. A third of the way down the run, ORACLE gybed directly across Luna Rossa's bow and was penalized again for gybing too close.
Holmberg then knew the game was to throttle BMW ORACLE Racing's lead to less than siz boat lengths. On the final run, Luna Rossa shadowed BMW ORACLE Racing by 100m, and it seemed improbably Coutts' crew could carry out the penalty and still cross the line ahead. But they did so and with total mastery of the situation and won by a clear 9s - advancing Larry Ellison's team to the semifinals and ending Luna Rossa's run in this regatta.
A close race between Luna Rossa Challenge and BMW ORACLE Racing. Image copyright Stefano Gattini/Luna Rossa Challenge.
Mark 1 - 0:04 BMW ORACLE Racing
Mark 2 - 0:12 BMW ORACLE Racing
Mark 3 - 0:19 BMW ORACLE Racing
Finish - 0:09 BMW ORACLE Racing
Race 2: Damiani Italia Challenge beat TEAMORIGIN, 29s
Damiani Italia Challenge beat TEAMORIGIN. Image copyright Stefano Gattini/Damiani Italia Challenge.
An umpire's green flag at the start of TEAMORIGIN's semi-final match against the other newcomer team, Damiani Italia Challenge, was the defining moment that spelled the end of the British team's bid for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series trophy. British skipper Ben Ainslie controlled his opponent, Francesco Bruni, throughout an aggressive pre-start sequence but the Italian helmsman wriggled off the hook with seconds to go before the start gun.
An initial bid to land a protest on the Italians had been green-flagged by the umpires but Ainslie still appeared to be in control as the boats reached down the line on prt tack towards the committee boat. The Italian boat gybed across TEAMORIGIN's bow to start on starboard. Ainslie protested, claiming his opponent didn't have room for the manoeuvre. The umpires responded with another green flag leaving the British boat to follow Damiani Italia Challenge around every mark of the course.
Mark 1 - 0:14 Damiani Italia Challenge
Mark 2 - 0:12 Damiani Italia Challenge
Mark 3 - 0:22 Damiani Italia Challenge
Finish - 0:29 Damiani Italia Challenge
Race 3: Semi-Final - BMW ORACLE Racing beat Damiani Italia Challenge, 35s
BMW ORACLE Racing beat Damiani Italia Challenge. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.
In sharp contrast to previous matches there were no fireworks or flags when the semi-finalists met. It was a boat speed contest and the American ORACLE team prevailed. With a minute and a half to go, both boats were stemming the tide at low speed below the line. Russell Coutts, steering ORACLE, was protecting the committee end and Francesco Bruni had taken up position well to leeward.
They stayed that way before speeding up for the fun with Coutts starting fractionally ahead and with a touch more speed. The American boat had a small advantage on a long drag race to the port layline, broken only by two sharp but unsuccessful luffing attacks by the Italians that cost them valuable seconds and metres. Coutts led into the mark and was never threatened after that.
Mark 1 - 0:18 BMW ORACLE Racing
Mark 2 - 0:20 BMW ORACLE Racing
Mark 3 - 0:31 BMW ORACLE Racing
Finish - 0:35 BMW ORACLE Racing
Race 4: First Race, Louis Vuitton Pacific Series Challenger Finals
Alinghi beat BMW ORACLE Racing, 01s
Alinghi versus BMW ORACLE Racing. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.
The Swiss boat Alinghi pulled off a one-second come-from-behind victory over BMW ORACLE Racing today on the Hauraki Gulf in the first race of the challenger finals for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series. The American boat skippered by Russell Coutts led the whole race only to see Alinghi, with Ed Baird at the helm, get to the favoured end of the finish line and snatch the win. Alinghi's start against ORACLE was without incident.
The Swiss boat used its starboard entry inot the start box to claim the right hand side of the course and lined up for the start with ORACLE to leeward. Coutts had a tiny edge at the start and leveraged it to a 70 metre lead at the first windward mark. Baird drew level and threatened on the spinnaker run and Alinghi was just two seconds astern as they started the second beat.
Coutts opened the lead on the next beat but on the run, sailing some 90 metres ahead of his rivals, Coutts only applied a loose cover as the boats split apart. A 20 degree wind shift at the top of the run had made the committee boat end of the finish line favoured and it gave Baird the break he needed.
BMW ORACLE Racing led Alinghi around most of the course. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.
Mark 1 - 0:12 BMW ORACLE Racing
Mark 2 - 0:02 BMW ORACLE Racing
Mark 3 - 0:18 BMW ORACLE Racing
Finish - 0:01 Alinghi
Louis Vuitton Pacific Series