Friday, 6 February 2009

LVPS: BMW ORACLE Racing Opens Round Robin 2 with a Win in Boisterous Conditions

Luna Rossa Challenge chases BMW ORACLE Racing downwind. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

by Jane Eagleson

After a long delay as the Race Committee waited for the breeze to build enough strength for racing, the day ended with BMW ORACLE Racing having to contend with boisterous conditions in 20 knots of wind and strong opposing tides.

Racing against the Italian Luna Rossa team, the BMW ORACLE Racing crew gained an early lead and then extended all the way around the track to open their account in the second Round Robin with a valuable 59-second win.

The pre-start was marked by aggressive tactics as the yachts circled and jousted with the Italian team claiming the early advantage. However, in the closing countdown to the starting signal, skipper Russell Coutts and the BMW ORACLE Racing crew wound up into a perfectly timed run, hitting the startline at full pace and positioned on the right hand side of the line, with Luna Rossa tucked away to leeward and behind.

"It was pretty close," said skipper Russell Coutts afterwards. Asked how much room he had left at the line, he held forefinger and thumb close together to indicate just centimetres. "I was pretty confident and there was a bit of room to leeward to save a second or two."

From that early advantage, the yachts headed up the course on split tacks, with BMW ORACLE Racing on port tack and heading away to the right hand side of the course. After opening up a 700m lateral separation, Luna Rossa tacked to parallel the BMW ORACLE Racing track, but behind by two boatlengths. Working up the right hand side of the course, BMW ORACLE Racing took advantage of flatter water in the lee of Auckland's iconic Rangitoto volcano and led around the windward mark with a 36 second advantage.

"The wind and the tide bend around the Rangitoto shore at that point," said Coutts, "so you get a bit of a lift through there. I know it quite well. I grew up sailing Finns there."

On the first downwind leg, both yachts elected to round the right hand side of the leeward gate with BMW ORACLE Racing holding a lead of about four boatlengths. Once again Coutts and the afterguard headed for Rangitoto Island as the wind over tide conditions built up a choppy sea in the channel running into Auckland's Waitemata Harbour. The yachts were racing under heavy loads as they came into the final mark rounding with BMW ORACLE Racing holding a 38-second lead.

"It was quite rough," said mid-bowman Albi Barovier. "At the top mark, you had to hang on to stay on the boat. It was a good race, but the key moment was hitting the line exactly right at the start."

As they hurtled back towards the finish line, BMW ORACLE Racing had extended to a lead of more than 300m and crossed the line 59 seconds ahead of the Italian team to claim its first point in the second Round Robin of the regatta.

Other Gold Fleet results:

Alinghi beat Team Origin
Damiani Italia Challenge beat Emirates Team New Zealand

In the Silver Fleet:

Pataugas K-Challenge beat Greek Challenge
China Team scored its first win of the regatta over Team Shosholoza


No comments: