Friday, 6 February 2009

LVPS: Shifty Conditions Cost TEAMORIGIN the Race Against Alinghi

Alinghi and TEAMORIGIN against the backdrop of Auckland's North Shore. Image copyright Ian Roman.

Team faces first race loss despite holding the lead for most of the race

by Leslie Ryan

Round Robin 2 kicked off today here in Auckland at the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series. TEAMORIGIN was scheduled for first race of the day against Alinghi, the Defenders of the America’s Cup, to be sailed in Emirates TNZ boats.

Following a delay whilst the breeze built and steadied, the warning signal was eventually fired at 1315 and racing got underway in a perfect 8-10 knot breeze. The start was surprisingly uneventful with the two teams seeming to keep their distance and aim for a good start. TEAMORIGIN clearly favoured the left and started at the pin with good pace, with Alinghi just metres behind positioned in the middle of the line.

Both headed out on starboard with TEAMORIGIN taking out a small lead of 7-10m. Eventually Alinghi tacked off and TEAMORIGIN followed quite after, seeming to hold their line and height well stretching to a lead of 41m but all still pretty close. Following a number of tacks by both teams bouncing off to both sides of the course and TEAMORIGIN eventually took the lead around the first windward mark by 15 seconds only.

The first downwind leg saw TEAMORIGIN hold out on one side leading to a separation of nearly 500m at one stage. They eventually converged at the first leeward gate they split marks with TEAMORIGIN leading round by 20 seconds. Both headed out to the left hand side, with TEAMORIGIN’s steady lead hovering around 55m. At the top of the beat there were plenty of tacks by both teams narrowing the lead to 30m. Approaching the final windward mark, Alinghi appeared to purposefully overstand the mark and approach at speed to try to get an inside overlap on TEAMORIGIN and get an advantage at the mark but TEAMORIGIN managed to stay clear ahead and round in front by only 8 seconds, agonisingly close!

The final downwind went gybe for gybe and TEAMORIGIN seemed to have them covered but during the bottom third of the run, Alinghi appeared to gain some extra pressure and speed and they closed right up. When the two converged, Alinghi was ahead by a few metres and kept their pressure to cross the line 15 seconds ahead of TEAMORIGIN and snatch the win at the last moment.

Lady Maureen Mills, wife of Team Principal Sir Keith Mills, experienced her first time as 18th ‘woman’ today and gave us her impressions: “The most terrifying moment was the RIB ride over to the race boat and the rest was easy. I was very impressed by the teamwork and sense of quiet and calm on the boat. Also the lack of swearing!!”

Andrew Simpson, Strategist with the team added his thoughts on today’s race: “It was a really close race and we made a few mistakes, not ideal on Ben’s birthday too! We were racing against top team with a lot more experience than us, they kept the race tight and never let us get away from them and were ready to pounce even at the last minute. Onwards and upwards for tomorrow.”

The day produced a number of other form changes with Damiani Italia beating the, as yet unbeaten, Emirates Team New Zealand and the China Team scoring their first race win against Shosholoza.

Results from day one of RR2:
Alinghi 1 : TEAMORIGIN 0
K Challenge 1 : Greek Challenge 0
Damiani Italia 1 : Emirates TNZ 0
China Team 1 : Shosholoza 0
BMW Oracle 1 : Luna Rossa 0


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