Thursday, 12 February 2009

LVPS: TEAMORIGIN End Regatta on High Note Despite Narrow Loss to Damiani Italia Challenge in Quarter Finals

Damiani Italia Challenge beat TEAMORIGIN in the quarter-finals. Image copyright Ian Roman/TEAMORIGIN.

by Leslie Ryan

TEAMORIGIN ended their impressive run today in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series after a narrow loss in the Quarter Finals to the Italian team, Damiani Italia. After controlling the start they managed to position themselves with a strong hook under the Italian boat in the last minute and a half and a penalty to Damiani seemed imminent but was not granted. They went in for the kill a second time but, having been burnt before due to a contact decision, they played safe – perhaps too safe as far as the umpires were concerned - and for a second time no penalty was awarded. Their position in relation to the committee boat at that stage allowed Damiani the room to accelerate off the start line slightly faster than TEAMORIGIN and the Italians went on to lead for the rest of the race despite pressure from Ben Ainslie’s team the whole way round the course.

Sir Keith Mills, Team Principal, shared his views on the event and future plans for the team “This has been a great first event for TEAMORIGIN. The team showed incredible promise which bodes well for the future. The format of the regatta has been great and we have been made to feel very welcome here in Auckland. Now we are looking forward to getting the team back on the water as soon as possible in our preparation for the 33rd America’s Cup.”

Ben Ainslie, Skipper and Helmsman, rounded up the event “We have come a long way in this event and the team has huge potential for the future. We are naturally gutted about the result today but its time to move on. The future of the Cup is obviously dependant on the court case but that said, we have a sailing programme ready for the rest of 2009, with mini maxis, super maxi and match racing activity and hopefully some Acts and we look forward to moving on to the next level.”

The plan for the day was for BMW Oracle Racing to meet Luna Rossa in the first Quarter Final and TEAMORIGIN vs. Damiani Italia in the other Quarter final. The winners of those matches would then race to decide who would take on Alinghi in the Challenger Final.

1345 the first warning signal was fired and BMW Oracle managed to lead off the start line by a mere 8m. Up the first beat the race was really neck and neck with the lead changing between the two teams on a number of occasions. BMWO led around the first windward mark and a luffing incident occurred where both teams were given penalties and then a 2nd penalty awarded to BMWO!

BMWO lead for the rest of the race but headed towards the finish line with their penalty turn still to be done and Luna Rossa only 100m behind them! In true style and showing the extensive skill and race experience of this team, they managed an impressively quick turn to take the race win and move forward into the Semi-final round.

Meanwhile back to the TEAMORIGIN Quarter final. After the start, TEAMORIGIN charged forward in an attempt to catch the Italians and close the margin and throughout the rest of the race the two teams remained close. The Italian team have shown themselves throughout this event to be a very quick and clean team sailing their own race and making few mistakes and they again demonstrated this skill, keeping their cool and not crumbling under the pressure of the British team breathing down their necks.

TEAMORIGIN were attacking from behind, sailing fast and trying to engage the Italians into tacking to draw them back and close the gap, they remained enticingly close but just far enough ahead to keep out of trouble. The one track race course and steady wind did not lend itself to passing opportunities or significant shifts and so the race went forward to the last downwind leg.

Ben and the team sailed a faultless race as did the Italians but it was not to be. Damiani Italia crossed the line 29 seconds ahead and move on to race BMW Oracle next in the Semi’s.

Mike Sanderson, Team Director, commented “Short term it is sad to be leaving this competition but long term I can see a really bright future for TEAMORIGIN. This group of people that we put together have shown how well they can work and sail together, we should be very proud of the way we have performed and conducted ourselves throughout this event.”

Iain Percy, Tactician, added “We are really disappointed to be knocked out of the event but should be proud of our performance generally throughout the series. We have shown our ability to be a top team in this game being able to take on and beat the most experienced Cup teams. The nature of the regatta with its sudden death format didn’t allow for any mistakes and we found ourselves on the wrong side of that today but no point in dwelling on that, better to reflect on the potential of this group of sailors.”

Race results from today’s Quarter- and Semi-finals:

Quarter Finals:
BMW Oracle W : Luna Rossa L
Damiani Italia W : TEAMORIGIN L

Semi Final:
BMW Oracle W : Damiani Italia L

Tomorrow, Thursday 12th Feb sees the Challenger Final, best of 5 races, between Alinghi and the winner of the Semi-final race, BMW ORACLE Racing.


No comments: