Saturday, 7 February 2009

LVPS: Testing Times for TEAMORIGIN

TEAMORIGIN leads BMW ORACLE Racing on the first downwind leg. Image copyright Ian Roman.

by Leslie Ryan

An easterly fresh wind greeted the competitors on day two of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series here in Auckland. The inner race course was being used providing a narrow and challenging race track.

Race one between Alinghi and Damiani Italia saw Damiani win the first start and lead upwind only to have a erroneous ‘over the line’ call scupper the race which was re-started 20 minutes later. Damiani again led off the start line but gained a penalty up the beat forcing them back behind Alinghi. Alinghi went on to win giving them two points so far in RR2.

TEAMORIGIN were next up in race 3 against BMW Oracle, an important race for the guys to get them back into winning mode. Wind was still a fresh 18 knots and Sir Keith Mills climbed aboard as 18th man for what promised to be an exciting match. A short delay ensued whist a cargo ship went through and then the action started.

Russell Coutts, helmsman on BMW Oracle, seemed intent on close combat with Ben Ainslie and the two engaged actively before the start. TEAMORIGIN were at one stage pinned in by BMWO and looked to be in trouble but then managed to gybe away and at the same time inflict a penalty on BMW Oracle for not keeping out of their way. Contact was made between the two boats at the time of the incident. TEAMORIGIN crossed the line ahead and to leeward by around 50m.

The pair headed upwind and following numerous tacks by both teams, TEAMORIGIN lead around the windward mark by 13 seconds, incredibly close but with BMW Oracle still to do their penalty. The downwind leg remained close with TEAMORIGIN holding onto their lead.

At the leeward left hand gate TEAMORIGIN still retained the lead, dropped the kite and seemed to have trouble hoisting the jib. They had to carry on downwind and it appeared that the bolt rope on the headsail had pulled out and hence the jib could not be hoisted. Once there is a fracture in the headfoil there is nothing that can be done to repair it there and then and the boat cannot go upwind without a headsail so this led to them having to retire from the race and head back to shore, leaving BMW Oracle to complete their race alone, carry out their penalty and win the race. However having incurred a penalty for contact before they race they were docked a point and therefore end up on 0 points for that race.

Furthermore, despite inflicting a penalty on BMW Oracle before the start, TEAMORIGIN were also deemed to hold some responsibility for what was seen as unnecessary contact between the boats and were docked half a point (a regulation of this regatta to ensure teams do everything possible to avoid contact and therefore damage to any of the boats) and so end today with a – 0.5, despite having sailed an impressive race until equipment failure hit them and forced retirement.

TEAMORIGIN did protest on this matter but the Jury upheld their decision.

Iain Percy, Tactician, commented: “We were undoubtedly in the right in that incident and felt that we had done all we could to check our turn and avoid contact and so thought there was a good chance that the Jury would remove the half point penalty. They deliberated for a long time and unfortunately decided to stick with the regulation set down by this specific even.”t (penalising any team for contact between boats)

Other results from day two of RR2:
Alinghi 1 : Damiani Italia 0
K Challenge 1 : Shosholosa 0
BMW Oracle 0 : TEAMORIGIN – 0.5
(BMWO win race but incurred a contact penalty so get docked a point = 0 points; TEAMORIGIN retired due to equipment failure but get docked half a point as they were also involved in contact before the start = -0.5)
China Team 1 : Greek Challenge 0
Emirates TNZ 1 : Luna Rossa 0


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