Monday, 2 February 2009

LVPS: Epic Day for Team Shosholoza but Still No Points on the Scoreboard

Team Shosholoza and TEAMORIGIN upwind. Image copyright Ian Roman/TEAMORIGIN.

by Di Meek

The scoreboard simply didn’t reflect the performance of South Africa’s Team Shosholoza at the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in Auckland, New Zealand today when two masterful battles out on the race course brought no result for the team.

Race commentators rated Shosholoza’s first match of the day against Britain’s Team Origin as displaying the most aggressive pre=start tactics yet seen in the event and when the team’s second match against Italy’s Luna Rossa finally ended as dusk fell over the Hauraki Gulf Shosholoza skipper Paolo Cian was being hailed as one of the best match racers in the world.

“It was one of the closest and most exciting matches we’ve seen so far. Without doubt It was match racing in its most extreme form where speed around the course didn’t matter. It was all about who crossed the line first,” said Matt Sheahan, racing and technical editor of Yachting World.

“There were more lead changes in the Shosholoza/Luna Rossa match than I have seen for a very long time. Paolo has proved – not that he ever had to – that he is one of the best match racers in the world,” said Sheahan.

Although clearly frustrated at not being able to put any points on the scoreboard after three matches so far, Cian paid tribute to his crew.

“They are well prepared for the fight. We just need to get to the point where we can kill the opposition. In match racing ‘going for the kill’ is the normal use of words. As far as I can see we are sailing well enough to race the other teams. We can do it,” said Cian.

Shosholoza tactician Tommaso Chieffi raises the protest flag in an epic duel between the South African team and the Italian Luna Rossa challengers in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in Auckland New Zealand today. Image copyright Guiliano Luzzatto.

Keith Taylor described the tactics and manoeuvres between Shosholoza and Luna Rossa as more like those of small dinghy boat racing than of 80 foot Cup yachts. He likened the action on the four lap race to scrapping tigers.

The victory honors went to Peter Holmberg skippering Luna Rossa but only after multiple lead changes and two penalties imposed on the South African boat.
A long delay waiting for suitable wind forced a late start to racing and nightfall was near by the time the Italians and South Africans and had their chance to sail the race that had been abandoned yesterday.

A tense pre-start battle led into a close weather leg featuring lead changes and some slow-speed jockeying for position at the weather mark. Cian was first around with an 18 second margin only to be penalized on the run as Holmberg drew level and tried to pass. At the leeward mark Holmberg scraped in by just five seconds ahead of the Cian.

At the second weather mark Cian had the upper hand again and executed a series of downspeed defensive tacks that had the boats crawling above the layline as Shosholoza’s skipper looked for an opportunity to land a penalty on Holmberg, a move that would cancel the penalty hanging over his head.

An already tactical race turned bizarre as the boats rounded and neither set spinnakers. Cian was still hunting for an opportunity to put a penalty on Luna Rossa and Holmberg was content to lay back and avoid one. The top half of the last run was a series of jerky S-turns with the big mainsails slamming back and forwards as the skippers feinted and counterpunched. Finally it was Cian who copped a second penalty which meant he had to take the requisite 360-turn to neutralize the first. Holmberg sailed away to win by 1min9sec.

In four other races today, China Team lost to Emirates Team New Zealand after blowing their race start, while Luna Rossa comfortably defeated the Greek Team. BMW Oracle Racing won by 54 seconds over Pataugas K-Challenge and TEAMORIGIN beat Shosholoza by 48 seconds.

With one day’s competition remaining in the first round robin, the scores are: Pool A – Emirates Team New Zealand, 3; Damiani Italia Challenge, 2; BMW Oracle Racing, 2; Pataugas K Challenge, 1; China Team, 0. Pool B – TEAMORIGIN, 3; Alinghi, 2; Luna Rossa, 2; Greek Challenge, 0, Team Shosholoza, 0.

Shosholoza faces the Swiss Team Alinghi on Day 5 of the event tomorrow, Tuesday 3rd February.

Team Shosholoza

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