BMW ORACLE Racing today ran its record at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai to 10 wins in 11 starts with a 48-second victory over Synergy Russian Sailing Team on Day 6 of the two-week regatta, the start of Round 2.
The win allowed BMW ORACLE Racing, led by skipper James Spithill of Australia, to retain the top spot on the leaderboard with 11 points, 4.5 points ahead of second-placed Emirates Team New Zealand.
“We’re in a pretty solid position,” said mid-bowman Brad Webb of New Zealand, who has been with the team since its inception in 2000. “Jimmy’s been starting the boat brilliantly, and between JK (John Kostecki, tactician) and Murray (Jones, strategist), they’re putting the boat in the right place on the racecourse.”
By many accounts, the race was over before it started. With about 80 seconds to the start, Spithill lured Synergy into a trap, locking the Russian yacht on his windward aft quarter with no avenue for escape.
In full control, Spithill slowed the match down by sailing close to the wind. When the start gun sounded both boats were a couple of lengths behind the committee boat.
Then Synergy’s bow drifted to leeward and the port side grazed the starboard keep-off wand on the transoms of these 80-foot America’s Cup Class yachts. The on-water umpires penalized the Russian yacht for failing to keep clear.
Spithill entered the racecourse with a two-boatlength lead, and the race was all but over. BMW ORACLE led by 34, 37 and 50 seconds at the three mark roundings en route to the finish.
“It was an error on Synergy’s part,” said Webb, who mans the running backstays in the back of the boat during the pre-start. “With a minute to go they were locked out, and it’s one of those situations where they have to sit back and wait it out. When their bow went down I think they were trying to build speed, but fortunately for us they incurred a penalty.”
“We’re pretty confident in our boathandling,” Spithill said. “The guys are doing a good job on the winch handles and trimming the sails. At the end of the day, the penalty was a bonus. I’m happy with how the guys are sailing the boat. Everyone’s getting better and learning every day. There’s a long way to go so that’s exciting.”
Tomorrow is an off day for the regatta as the sailors have been invited to participate in a local dhow race. The regatta schedule resumes Sunday with BMW ORACLE slated to race All4One and Artemis Racing.
Webb said that in this morning’s crew meeting coach Dean Phipps of New Zealand emphasized not to get too comfortable with the early success. There are still four races to sail, each worth 2 points, before the semifinals next Friday.
“I like our chances, but we can’t get too carried away,” Webb said. “We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing and stay focused on our jobs. At any minute the wheels could fall off. We’ve seen it happen to other teams and it’s happened to us. If we keep doing what we’re doing all will be fine.”
Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai Standings
1. BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) James Spithill – 11 points (10-1)
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker – 6.5 points (6-5)*
3. Artemis Racing (SWE) Cameron Appleton – 5 points (5-5)
4. All4One (FRA/GER) Sebastian Col – 4 points (4-6)
4. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team (ITA) Gavin Brady – 4 points (4-6)*
4. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) Francesco Bruni – 4 points (4-6)
(* Points deducted for collision)