Wednesday, 11 February 2009

LVPS: Start of Countdown to the Final

Emirates Team New Zealand charges along downwind, but doesn't catch BMW ORACLE Racing. Image copyright Chris Cameron/Emirates Team New Zealand.

by Warren Douglas

The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series now enters a new stage - the challengers go into a round of knockout races while Emirates Team New Zealand starts preparing for the final.

Emirates Team New Zealand goes through to the series final which starts on Friday. Alinghi, by winning the second round robin has qualified for the challenger finals which will decide which team goes up against ETNZ. The “knock-out” sail-off will determine Alinghi’s opponent.

Monday was a bad day on the water for Emirates Team New Zealand, finishing round robin 2 of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series with three losses.

Grant Dalton said: “We didn’t start well … but after that we sailed OK. I have absolutely no worry with our crew work. It is great, but we have seen throughout this regatta that a bad start can be the beginning of the end.

“Add into the mix a couple of shifts that go the wrong way and there’s little chance of recovery against opposition that good.”

On today’s 27sec loss to Oracle, skipper Dean Barker said: “We have to stop making the silly little mistakes that have been the story of our second round robin performance.

“The pre-start is all about crucial decisions at critical stages. We had Oracle in a lot of trouble but gave them a chance to break out of it. We could easily have had the left, I chose to make it harder for them and it back-fired.

“Then we didn’t get all the shifts we needed and that meant we had no opportunity to find a passing lane.”

Barker is confident the team can turn it around for the final. “We will spend some time de-briefing – examine what’s working and what’s not. Whoever we end up racing in the final will be pretty hot. We’ve got the guys and the ability to turn things around. We’re not happy about making mistakes, but learning from those mistakes will make us stronger for the finals.”

At the post-race press conference BMW Oracle Racing skipper Russell Coutts summed up the series so far: “One of the great things about this regatta is that we have seen that all these teams are competitive. They all can win races.

“I feel that this is a fantastic feature of this event. The racing is so close, so intense, it’s an open event now. Any of the teams still competing could win this event.

“The key to being successful is being consistently good and that’s the challenge for all the teams... and it will be tough to have that consistency in a format like this.”

Dalton’s last word: “Today we were not sharp enough. We have to get back to the old form.”

Emirates Team New Zealand

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