Friday, 27 August 2010
Sir Keith Mills, Ben Ainslie and the TEAMORIGIN crew with the Trafalgar Cup. Image copyright Ian Roman/TEAMORIGIN.
by Leslie Greenhalgh
The three final races held yesterday between Sir Keith Mills’ TEAMORIGIN and LarryEllison’s BMW ORACLE Racing at the 1851 Cup in the Solent, saw the British crew andskipper quadruple Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie claim victory over the 2010America’s Cup champions from the US led by James Spithill.
This week in Cowes, the 1851 Cup regatta saw TEAMORIGIN come out on top on thefirst two days of windward-leeward match racing. However victory on Thursday in the re-enactment of the 1851 race clockwise around the Isle of Wight, which spawned the America’s Cup, the pinnacle event in yacht racing, went to BMWORACLE Racing, just as their forebears on America had 159 years earlier.
While TEAMORIGIN were ahead on points going into today’s match racing, morally it was even between the two teams. BMW ORACLE Racing claimed the first of the final day’s triple points scoringwindward-leeward races to even the score with TEAMORIGIN. In this Ainslie nearly managed to lock Spithill into ‘dead man’s corner’, the area ofthe start box behind the pin, however both were early for the line and the highlyexperienced BMW ORACLE Racing skipper managed to wriggle back into contention.
TEAMORIGIN had the upper hand up the first part of the beat, but bythe first mark rounding BMW ORACLE Racing had taken the lead. At the weather mark TEAMORIGIN were on BMW ORACLE Racing’s transom and in attempting toget the inside overlap, weren’t able to achieve this, and the British crew ‘expressed their frustration’ to the umpires and their opponents for which they were duly awarded with a penalty for ‘dissent’. From here the British team trailed the Americans around the race course, theirdefeat as BMW ORACLE Racing crossed the line coinciding with the British team’s spinnaker bursting.
Race two provided a fantastic display of the drama possible in top-level matchracing.In this TEAMORIGIN swapped sides in the pre-start to take the right side and afavourable shift soon after the start gun caused them to move to take an early lead.This was to be the tightest race of the day as was proved on the first run, when BMWORACLE Racing were on TEAMORIGIN’s transom creating a wind shadow. To get outof this situation Ben Ainslie luffed his opponent, causing the spinnaker on Spithill’s boat to touch them resulting in a penalty being awarded to BMW ORACLE Racing.The American team managed to slip ahead after this, leading for the next lap, butnot by enough to clear their penalty before the finish – but this was not withoutconsiderable effort spent trying.
On the final run both boats at one point found themselves pointing the wrong way up the race course as TEAMORIGIN attemptedto prevent the American boat completing its penalty turn. Eventually the two boatsdid finish the race neck and neck, but with BMW ORACLE Racing having failed tocomplete their penalty. 7-4 to TEAMORIGIN on points.In the final race today with the wind exceeding 20 knots, Ben Ainslie once againexcelled in the pre-start shovelling his opponent well beyond the right side of the start box. This resulted in both boats being late for the start line, but with TEAMORIGINahead by a boat length and in control.
BMW ORACLE Racing attempted to engage throughout the race, but were too far behind. The American team’s fate was sealed when during the spinnaker hoist on the final rounding of the weather mark they ran over their sail. This disaster handed TEAMORIGIN the race win, but also victory in the 1851 Cup Regatta with a final scoreline of 10-4.
Commenting on defeating the defenders of the America’s Cup, Team Principle of TEAMORIGIN, Sir Keith Mills said “We’ve seen some of the best match racing thisweek in Cowes from two extraordinary teams. The event has really put the America’s Cup back on the map and a British boat beating current America’s Cup holders has made the whole event very special”Skipper and helmsman of TEAMORIGIN, triple Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie commented “It was a great regatta for TEAMORIGIN.
The new team that was puttogether for this event gelled really well. Having defeated the defenders of theAmerica’s Cup in front of a home crowd, we are all now looking forward to thefuture.James Spithill, BMW ORACLE Racing’s young skipper had this to say moments afterstepping ashore: "I guess you could say it was honours even with each team winninga trophy. But fair do's to Ben and his team. We knew they would be tough opponents in home waters and they were."
Geoff Cousins, Managing Director, Jaguar UK rounded up on the overall event: “We are absolutely delighted that TEAMORIGIN racing with Jaguar won the matchracing series of the 1851 event. It's a shame we couldn't keep the Thames Cup on home soil but I would like to congratulate the entire team for their hard work anddedication.'It has been an honour working with Sir Keith Mills and TEAMORIGIN. Theirdetermination and expertise is admirable and will stand them in good stead for thefuture. Jaguar’s dedication to nurturing the best of young British sporting talentremains as strong as ever through the Jaguar Academy of Sport.”What a great day to be a fan of British sport and well done to BMW Oracle Racing on winning the Thames Cup for the round the island race."
The 1851 Cup