Wednesday, 11 February 2009

LVPS: TEAMORIGIN Advance to the Quarter Finals With A Decisive Win Over Pataugas by K-Challenge

TEAMORIGIN leads Pataugas by K-Challenge downwind. Image copyright Ian Roman/TEAMORIGIN.

by Leslie Ryan

Racing turned serious Tuesday as the Challenger Sail-off round started – a ‘sudden death/knock out’ format comes into play where we will go from 8 teams in the competition to the final 3 (with ETNZ and Alinghi already 2 of them). The programme schedule was to hold 5 races today but the fickle wind only allowed two races to be completed: the two sail offs between China Team and Luna Rossa and then TEAMORIGIN vs Pataugas K Challenge. The winners of these two races move to the Quarter Finals to take on Damiani Italia and BMW Oracle respectively. And after that to the semi-final to decide who will meet Alinghi in the ‘Challenger Final’.

Wind was light and variable with shifty and testing conditions for these sudden death races. The first race kicked off with Luna Rossa awarded a pre-start penalty but winning the start. China Team needed to keep their nose clean and stay close enough to their competitor. Luna Rossa led around the first mark but the distance was only 80m, really they needed at least 120m distance clear ahead to get their penalty in and stay ahead so they had plenty on.

Meanwhile 10 minutes later the warning signal for race two was fired. TEAMORIGIN won the start from K Challenge starting right by the committee boat and with the choice of where they wanted to go. It was neck and neck however up the first beat, TEAMORIGIN marginally ahead but really close and the right side perhaps not paying off as much as TEAMORIGIN would have hoped. This race was in BMW Oracle boats and this was TEAMORIGIN’s first time racing in these boats whereas K Challenge had had plenty of experience in racing them in the earlier rounds.

TEAMORIGIN led around the first mark by only 8 seconds but appeared to have a problem with the spinnaker hoist and K Challenge managed to hoist faster and started to roll over them, TEAMORIGIN then got their kite sorted and luffed K Challenge 3 times with the French spinnaker halyard dropping, jib still up, flags flying and eventually K Challenge were awarded a penalty by the umpires for not keeping clear.

The drama was not over yet as the TEAMORIGIN spinnaker halyard seemed to be a few feet off the top, they gybed across and headed up to take the stern of K Challenge and headed for the right hand side. K Challenge took the lead again momentarily (but with a penalty) and TEAMORIGIN headed for the right and eventually moved into the lead.

TEAMORIGIN lead around bottom gate but still only 18m in it so by no means game over. They headed up the beat carefully covering the French and managed to get back into a controlling position. Ben and the boys lead around top mark and headed downwind to the finish line managing to extend to nearly 100m and crossed the line in a winning position to move into the quarter finals to meet Damiani Italia.

Meanwhile the other race had turned into a thrilling match. Luna Rossa had extended down the last run with a 150m lead, potentially enough of a lead to allow them to do their penalty turn and still finish ahead of the China Team. They dropped their kite literally on the line and did their turn with Ian Williams and China Team powered up behind and passing between the committee boat and Luna Rossa who by that stage were tacked but stalled. It really was a photo finish and everyone held their breath until the race committee announced the winner was Luna Rossa by a mere 1m and 1 second! Game over for China Team who after only a couple of weeks have managed to race competitively against the best of the teams here and look like they will be a force to contend with in the future.

After a long delay with the wind and rain squalls preventing the race committee to move on to further races, all action was cancelled for the day at 4.15pm and the teams headed back to base.

Tomorrow in the Quarter finals where TEAMORIGIN take on Damiani Italia Challenge.

Race results from Challenger Sail Off day:
Luna Rossa W : China Team L
TEAMORIGIN W : Pataugas K Challenge L


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