Sunday, 8 February 2009
BMW ORACLE Racing sails against Damiani Italia Challenge. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.
by Jane Eagleson
BMW ORACLE Racing added another point to its tally in the Gold Fleet of the Louis Vuitton Pacific series today after leading from start to finish in their match against the Damiani Italia team.
The race took place in light conditions of less than 10 knots after a two hour delay while the Race Committee waited for sufficient breeze to build. Before the yachts left the dock, Vasco Vascotto took one look at the lightwind conditions and smiled. "Racing in this Gold Fleet is tough, but the conditions today are Italian conditions," he said. "Let's go."
In the start, BMW ORACLE Racing entered with the starboard advantage, but the Italian team were able to sail deep into the box and avoid a dial-up by crossing ahead on port tack. Both yachts battled to gain control of the right hand side of the startline, but, with 1 minute to the gun Russell Coutts and the BMW ORACLE Racing crew had established a powerful position. Holding head to wind, BMW ORACLE Racing had the Italian yacht pinned to windward and above the starboard layline into the start.
In the final countdown, BMW ORACLE Racing bore off and built speed, leaving the Italian team no alternative but to follow clear astern. As they crossed the line, BMW ORACLE Racing already held a two boatlength lead. "Russell did a great job at the start," said tactician Hamish Pepper. "That certainly made it easier to gain control of the race straight away.
"The wind was very shifty and puffy. It was tough. The Italain crew did a good job of keeping it tight and I guess we did a nice job of retaining control. We played it fairly safe and did not extend. We let them come back to us from time to time, but always kept control and the power of the right."
All the way around the course, BMW ORACLE Racing maintained a close cover over their Italian rivals with the lead extending and diminishing as each team made gains and losses. However, the Italian crew were never able to seriously threaten the overall lead, trailing by 10 seconds at the first mark, by 18 seconds at the second, 47 seconds at the third and 26 seconds at the finish.
Other Gold Fleet results:
Team Origin beat Luna Rossa Challenge
Emirates Team New Zealand beat Alinghi, who declined to sail the match
In the Silver Fleet:
Greek Challenge beat Team Shosholozas
China Team beat Pataugas K-Challenge
BMW ORACLE Racing