Saturday, 7 February 2009

LVPS: A Day of Drama and Intrigue for BMW ORACLE Racing

TEAMORIGIN and BMW ORACLE Racing full on. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

by Jane Eagleson

The much-anticipated match between BMW ORACLE Racing and Team Origin was full of drama and excitement, but ended in bizarre fashion when Team Origin withdrew after just two legs with damage to their headsail foil and indicated they would be heading to the protest room to dispute an on-the-water ruling resulting from a pre-start incident.

Team Origin's withdrawal left BMW ORACLE Racing to sail around the course alone and finish with the victory. However, a collision during the aggressive pre-start saw the yachts leave the line with a hard-contact penalty against BMW ORACLE Racing. This collision occured as the yachts peeled apart from a tight dial-up. BMW ORACLE Racing had the British team in all kinds of trouble, pinned in the dreaded "coffin corner" to the left hand side of the startline and with very few options.

As the yachts bore away from the dial-up to start their run for the line, BMW ORACLE Racing headed away on port tack, while Team Origin bore away onto starboard tack. When they split apart, the two transoms touched lightly and BMW ORACLE Racing received a penalty.

After a spirited tacking duel up the first windward leg and constantly attacking on the downwind leg, BMW ORACLE Racing was close astern of Team Origin as they charged towards the leeward gate. BMW ORACLE Racing rounded the left hand side of the gate, while Team Origin headed for the right side. But, unable to hoist a genoa because of a damaged headstay foil, Team Origin kept sailing downwind away from the course and withdrew from the race.

Although they completed their penalty turn during their lone march around the second half of the race, the rules of the this regatta are that teams have points removed for "hard-contact" penalties. The initial ruling on the water was that BMW ORACLE Racing would be docked 1 point, while Team Origin would lose half a point. BMW ORACLE Racing was not aware of any contact, but accepted the ruling. Team Origin came off the water flying a red flag, indicating a potential protest against the Race Committee.

After a brief hearing, chairman of the International Jury Dyer Jones announced that the on-the-water rulings would stand and confirmed BMW ORACLE Racing would lose 1 point and Team Origin would lose 0.5pt.

Other Gold Fleet results:
Alinghi beat Damiani Italia Challenge
Emirates Team New Zealand beat Luna Rossa Challenge

In the Silver Fleet:
Pataugas K-Challenge beat Team Shosholozas
China Team beat Greek Challenge


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