Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series: Day Five Race Reports

Shosholoza wins against America's Cup holders Alinghi. Image copyright Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.

by Louis Vuitton Pacific Series media

Race 1: BMW ORACLE Racing beat Damiani Italia Challenge, 52s

On a sparkling day on the Waitemata Harbour with a brisk 15 knot northeasterly blowing, BMW ORACLE Racing and Damiani Italia Challenge lined up with two wins apiece. In a relatively tame pre-start, BMW ORACLE Racing skipper Russell Coutts crossed the line with speed at the right-hand end, while Vasco Vascotto and the Italian boat went to the left but tacked immediately on to port to join the Americans. Coutts tacked cleanly in front and kept heading left, but Vascotto caught a wind shoft on the right and held the advantage.

It was shortlived, and BMW ORACLE Racing led the march to the top mark, rounding 21s ahead. Downwind the Italians gained ground and the two boats then sailed on opposite gybes, separated by 450m across the course, with Damiani Italia only 8s behind rounding the leeward gate. The next leg was dominated by shifty breezes coming off Rangitoto Island, each boat taking turns to benefit, before BMW ORACLE Racing made a big gain near the mark extending to a 6-boat length lead. Vascotto's crew did not recover, finishing the race 55s behind; the win guaranteeing BMW ORACLE Racing's place in the gold fleet for the second round.

Damiani Italia Challenge and BMW ORACLE Racing head upwind with the backdrop of Rangitoto. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Mark 1 - 0:21 BMW ORACLE Racing
Mark 2 - 0:11 BMW ORACLE Racing
Mark 3 - 0:31 BMW ORACLE Racing
Finish - 0:55 BMW ORACLE Racing

Race 2: Shosholoza beat Alinghi, 3m 49s

Chalk up a massive victory to South Africa! Italian skipper Paolo Cian steering Shosholoza delivered a virtuoso performance at the start of the South Africans' match up with the America's Cup champions Alinghi. With the benefit of a starboard entry, Cian superbly controlled Alinghi helmsman Ed Baird in a prolonged dial-up that carried both boats above the start line. They hund head to wind for more than three minutes until Cian, timing his move perfectly, returned with a long swooping turn to hit the line at speed, with Baird trailing by almost three boat lengths. Shosholoza sailed away and was never threatened.

Alinghi was caught in light, shofty air approaching the leeward mark and lost more time in an uncharacteristically untidy spinnaker takedown that had crewmen scrambling on the foredeck to contain the billowing chute as their boat knifed to windward. Shosholoza was still extending on the last run, over a kilometre in front as she finished.

Mark 1 - 0:32 Shosholoza
Mark 2 - 2:32 Shosholoza
Mark 3 - 3:19 Shosholoza
Finish - 3:49 Shosholoza

Damiani Italia Challenge chases BMW ORACLE Racing downwind. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

Race 3: Emirates Team New Zealand beat Pataugas by K-Challenge, 1m 38s

There wasn't a second wasted in a lively pre-start duel between Dean Barker on the New Zealand boat and Sebastien Col on the French boat that saw three successive dial-ups. ETNZ went for the left end of the line with K-Challenge on her hip and both boats at speed. After a short starboard tack both boats went off on a long port board with Col leading. Closing the weather mark after four tacks they were still neck and nack but Barker got control coming into the mark and although Col kept it close for the run and part of the next leg, the New Zealanders cruised to a comfortable victory.

Mark 1 - 0:22 Emirates Team New Zealand
Mark 2 - 0:33 Emirates Team New Zealand
Mark 3 - 1:26 Emirates Team New Zealand
Finish - 1:38 Emirates Team New Zealand

Race 4: TEAMORIGIN beat Greek Challenge, 58s

TEAMORIGIN near the top mark. Image copyright Ian Roman.

Greek offshore sailor Theodoros Tsoulfas took the helm of Greek Challenge today, while Kiwi Gavin Brady who has been steering all week, stepped back to take the tactician's role after starting the boat. For the 37-year old Greek Star boat champion this was only his second week aboard a Cup boat, much less steering one, but he kept the racing close for the first two legs and finished less than a minutes behind the British boat steered by triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie. Tsoulfas is prominent in Greek offshore competition and has sailed on Greek big boats like Atalanti and Okyalos, but he acknowledged that stepping up to the helm was a big move.

Ainslie herded Brady over the line before the start but then broke away for a midline start at speed while Greek Challenge started at the committee boat. There was little between them for the first five tacks and most of the weather leg and the Greeks were still just 17 seconds behind TEAMORIGIN at the first leeward mark, but Ainslie sailed clear after that.

Mark 1 - 0:16 TEAMORIGIN
Mark 2 - 0:17 TEAMORIGIN
Mark 3 - 0:44 TEAMORIGIN
Finish - 0:58 TEAMORIGIN

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series scoreboard at the end of Round Robin 1, copyright Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series

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