Sunday, 8 February 2009

LVPS: Second Victory for Greek Challenge

Greek Challenge against the backdrop of Rangitoto. Image copyright Pierre Orphanidis/Greek Challenge.

by Pierre Orphanidis

On a beautiful day on Waitemata harbour, hundreds of spectator boats witnessed an exhilarating victory for Greek Challenge. Not only did the new America’s Cup team score their second victory in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, they beat the team that a mere two days past defeated the America’s Cup Defender, Alinghi. Greek Challenge nurtured a slight advantage at the start line into a huge lead of 1 minute 26 seconds at the finish.

The two aggressive match racers, Gavin Brady on the Greek boat and Paolo Cian for the South Africans, had a tight and close pre-start. The two boats hit the starting line on an equal footing, the Greeks on the left and the South Africans on the right, both powering towards the left side of the course. Nevertheless, Greek Challenge soon got a slight speed advantage over Shosholoza, allowing them to be ahead in the first cross. Brady’s astute match racing tactics forced Cian to do 2 additional tacks, slowing the South African boat even more. Greek Challenge rounded the first weather mark with a comfortable 35-second advantage.

Despite being the novice crew in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, Greek Challenge sailed with confidence in the first run, doing a fantastic job in gybing under tricky conditions, and increased their lead to 38 seconds in the leeward gate.

From there on, it was plain sailing for the Greek crew, their Kiwi teammates and the South African navigator onboard Greek Challenge. They did a magnificent job in covering their opponent, putting an excellent display of teamwork and realizing their motto of “sail with your heart, win with your mind”.

The two teams will now face each other again next Tuesday in a race that will decide the 8th and 9th positions in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series.

Quotes of the day

Gavin Brady (NZL), helmsman of Greek Challenge: “Everything came together very well today, from start to finish. We had a good start, our tacks and gybes were excellent but more importantly there was good communication on the boat. We were calm, relaxed and quiet, undoubtedly the quietest day so far. Boat handling is undoubtedly getting better by the day. After yesterday’s unfortunate chain of mishaps we rallied and won the race.

All Greek sailors that took part in this regatta are now in a position to impress anyone on a Cup boat, no matter what team they might end up with. They could very well crew any big boat and I urge them to do it this summer in the Med.”

Marc Lagesse (RSA), navigator of Greek Challenge, on beating twice his former team: “...[Big smile]”

Sotiris Buseas (GRE), aft grinder and Greek Challenge CEO: “It was a great day and I have to thank the entire team for this very positive end to the Round Robins. Poseidon was on our side, as he always was. Our goal when we first arrived here was to sail correctly and participate. We finish the Round Robins with two victories under our belts but the most important thing is what we learned from the New Zealanders on the boat in two short weeks. We faced the world’s best sailing teams and we feel honored to take part in such an event”.

H.E. Evangelos Damianakis, Greek Ambassador to New Zealand and 18th man today: “This is my first time on a sailing yacht and I’m exhilarated. I was also told this was the second victory of the team and Greek Challenge proved they were up to the challenge. I’m proud I was part of the crew even if as a simple spectator at the back. It was a wonderful experience and I was surprised by the coordination and teamwork required in order to sail these yachts, let alone win a race.

I have to congratulate Mr Buseas for accomplishing this Herculean endeavor, bring a team down here to New Zealand and achieve two victories. I wish him all the best and I really look forward to a continuation”.

Greek Challenge

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