Thursday, April 29, 2010

Grudge match

You can say it was for bragging rights, or call it a grudge match, or maybe it was just about who would buy dinner, but both teams desperately wanted to win the match between BMW ORACLE Racing (with Larry Ellison on the helm, Russell Coutts calling tactics) and RC 44 Challenge (Jimmy Spithill at the wheel, JK as tactician).

In the event, the combo of Ellison and Coutts crossed the line ahead, on the way to an impressive 5-1 record on the day. And Ellison couldn't have been happier.

"That was the most important race. Maybe more important than the whole regatta!" Ellison said jokingly afterwards. "We won by about half a boat length. It was all-on and it was a lot of fun. And now we're in a good position to win the regatta (the match race portion) if we sail well tomorrow."

"These boats are a lot of fun to sail. It's great to be out here where everyone is driving identical boats. We were 5-1 and we had a chance to win the race we lost, so we're pretty happy with our sailing today."

Indeed, BMW ORACLE Racing is sitting at the top of the table after day one, with that 5-1 record. Two teams are one win behind and Spithill's RC 44 Challenge is in the middle of the pack on 3-3.

"The level of the fleet is very, very tough. I was in the fleet two years ago and it's great to see where the level is now. I really think it's the highest level out there," Spithill said. "I can only really point the finger at myself for today. My hand is up for the mistakes. But we're a new team now and we're going to learn and get better together."

More match racing is scheduled for Friday. Full results and event information at the class website here.