Monday, 2 February 2009

LVPS: BMW ORACLE Racing Scores Solid Win

BMW ORACLE Racing leads China Team downwind against the backdrop of Auckland's skyline. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

by Jane Eagleson

BMW ORACLE Racing put its first point on the board in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series today with a solid 1 minute 28 second win over China Team.

Sailing in brisk 18-20 knot southwesterlies on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour, Russell Coutts and the BMW ORACLE Racing crew gained control early in the pre-start. As they sailed deep downwind in the starting box in a controlling position behind the Chinese team, the action was close and hectic. With the yachts circling in the pre-start battle, China Team incurred a penalty for gybing too close to BMW ORACLE Racing.

Pre-start between BMW ORACLE Racing and China Team. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

"We managed to get a great start," said BMW ORACLE Racing tactician Hamish Pepper. "We wanted to protect the right hand side of the course and we won that."

Coming off the startline, BMW ORACLE Racing was clear ahead with Team China tucked away to leeward. Up the first beat, the BMW ORACLE Racing afterguard kept in phase with the windshifts and led around the first windward mark by 24 seconds. China Team closed the gap to 16 seconds on the first run, but BMW ORACLE Racing extended again on the second windward leg to round the final mark with an 18 second advantage.

"After getting the penalty on China Team, our strategy was just to ensure we stayed between them and the next mark and ensure we gave them no opportunities to come back at us," said Pepper. "On the first downwind run, China Team were sailing in a bit more pressure and made some gains. The wind was shifty especially towards the top of the course and it was quite gusty, at times rising above 20 knots in the puffs.

"We had no dramas on the boat. The crew work was good and we made no mistakes. It was a good day."

China Team's spinnaker rips in half. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

With the wind rising to over 20 knots on the final run, China Team blew their spinnaker and all hope of bringing the action close again was gone. BMW ORACLE Racing romped down to the finish line and, by the time China Team had completed its penalty turn, the final delta was 1 minute 28 seconds.

BMW ORACLE Racing meets the French Pataugas K-Challenge team in tomorrow's racing.


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