Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Moving up

Strangely enough, without sailing, BMW ORACLE Racing moved up a place at the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Nice on Tuesday. Only one match - between Emirates Team New Zealand and Synergy - was scheduled. But when it couldn't be sailed - no wind - race officials were forced to dig into the rule book to re-score the first two rounds based on an incomplete series.

The result saw BMW ORACLE Racing move up to fifth place. It wasn't enough to climb into the Semi Finals, but the fifth place finish means the team could pick its opponent for the first of two remaining matches that will determine its final ranking.

"It's always hard to choose. All the teams are tough, but we're going to pick Team French Spirit," announced Hamish Pepper at Tuesday's press conference. The French team, a new one, has but one win in the event to date.

"They are a new team, and I think their record reflects that," Pepper said.

Their skipper Bertrand Pace will be well known to our team. Pepper sailed with him when both were with Team New Zealand in the 2003 AC, and Pace was a member of BMW ORACLE Racing in the last edition of the Cup.

"He's a very good technical match racer," was Pepper's assessment. "He has a strong understanding of the game and he's one of the top match racers in the world. They don't have a great record, but we'll have to bring a good game to beat them."

BMW ORACLE Racing has two matches left to determine its final position. Two wins will allow the team to hold on to fifth place, while two losses drop them to eighth. A win and a loss puts them somewhere in the middle.

The good news is that, so far, the team has a perfect record against the three teams it might sail over the coming days. But Pepper says that's meaningless now. Points aren't carried forward.

"We would have preferred to have been in the top four, but these are top teams we've been racing here, so it hasn't been easy," he said. "We have to win two races to finish fifth and if we lose a race, we'll be further down the table."

Wednesday is an off day. Racing resumes on Thursday.