Thursday, August 5, 2010

BMW ORACLE Racing wins race around the island

UPDATE: 1645 hours

BMW ORACLE Racing defeated TEAMORIGIN in the race around the Isle of Wight by 1m:22s. The two crews stormed down the Solent in a 20-knot wind with 4-knot favorable tide. BMW ORACLE Racing defeated TEAMORIGIN by more than a minute, the final delta inflated due to a blown spinnaker on TEAMORIGIN.

A full report with pictures will follow later.

UPDATE: 1415 hours

BMW ORALCE Racing has passed St. Catherine’s Point on the south side of the Isle of Wight with a lead of approximately 300 meters over TEAMORIGIN. The two crews have been hard on the wind since passing Bembridge Ledge on the eastern side. The race is approximately half way around the island and now the crews can crack sheets a bit and sail a rhumbline course towards The Needles, the point of land that marks the western approach to the Solent.

UPDATE: 1330 hours

The race around the Isle of Wight between BMW ORACLE Racing and TEAMORIGIN is two hours old and the crews are off Dunnows Point on the southeast side of the island. BMW ORACLE Racing has maintained a lead between 350 and 500 meters as the two crews beat upwind across Sandown Bay. Below are some pictures at the beginning of the race from team photographer Gilles Martin-Raget.

Just after the start
Passing No Man's Land Fort
BMW ORACLE Racing gets the lead

Aboard BMW ORACLE Racing

UPDATE: 1250 hours

BMW ORACLE Racing has opened a sizeable lead approaching Bembridge Ledge Buoy on the east side of the Isle of Wight. TEAMORIGIN dropped behind during the takedown gone awry. A crewmember had to go overboard to help un-wrap the spinnaker from the keel. Reports from the racecourse indicate the wind is blowing from the southwest between 15 and 17 knots in flat water.

UPDATE: 1230 hours

BMW ORACLE Racing and TEAMORIGIN are approaching Nab Light Buoy.

As the two crews sailed past No Man’s Land Fort and out the east end of the Solent TEAMORIGIN gained a second penalty for luffing BMW ORACLE Racing and gaining an advantage while the crews navigated through some classes of Cowes Week. Saddled with a second penalty, TEAMORIGIN had to perform a 270-degree penalty turn.

Then, TEAMORIGIN luffed head-to-wind when the crew lost the spinnaker overboard during a takedown. TEAMORIGIN slowed up for what seemed like 30 seconds while recovering the sail, and BMW ORACLE Racing sailed past to regain the lead in the fourth lead change of the race.

UPDATE 2: 1150 hours
The race around the Isle of Wight is underway. BMW ORACLE Racing and TEAMORIGIN began on time at 1130 hours. With a northwesterly wind blowing, the two crews took an offwind start.

BMW ORACLE Racing skipper Jimmy Spithill crossed the line on starboard and then the crew made a clean jibe set to port. TEAMORIGIN performed a similar maneuver.

About two minutes into the race both crews jibed back to starboard. That placed TEAMORIGIN to windward and the British crew rolled over the top of the America’s Cup winners.

In the pre-start, however, BMW ORACLE Racing placed a penalty on TEAMORIGIN, which jibed too close. So the British crew will have to complete a penalty turn before the end of the race, which is expected to last approximately six hours.

UPDATE 1: 1110 hours
The early morning southwesterly has shifted around to the northwest and decreased in strength to around 10 knots or less as the classes in Cowes Week begin the day’s racing.

The start of the race around the Isle of Wight for BMW ORACLE Racing and TEAMORIGIN is still set for 1130. The course will be clockwise around the Isle of Wight, starting between the Cowes Week buoy Gamma Buoy and the Committee Boat (Thames 5) to the North of Gamma Buoy, leaving to port Horse Sands Fort and to starboard No Man’s Land Fort, Nab Light Buoy, Bembridge Ledge Buoy, St Catherine’s Point, Bridge Buoy and finishing at the ‘Squadron’ line.

Will the wind hold northwesterly? Or is there a punch in store for the two crews? Team meteorologist Chris Bedford (right) examines.

FORECAST DISCUSSION: NW winds 10-15 knots at first. Then some easing is expected especially in the Solent and east/southeast of IOW from late morning through early afternoon. Winds backing toward W midday through early afternoon. Chance of 15 in the East Solent easing to 10 knots or less off the southeast coast. Clouds moving off the island may bring right shifts and less/unstable pressure.

Approaching St Catherine’s Pt, the breeze will tend to build from around 10 to 15-20 and possibly 20-25 west of St Catherine’s Pt. Winds will then ease again approaching the Needles. The wind direction in this area will back to the WSW while building.

From Needles to the Western Solent, the wind will be highly dependent on the cloud. Clearing and left (W/WSW) breeze will tend to be strongest around 15 knots. Clouds will tend to ease the wind. A sharp transition between WSW and WNW could exist somewhere along the route from the Needles to the finish.

WEATHER: Scattered clouds at first. Thinning cloud moving across the area from WNW/NW. Cumulus developing on the Southampton shore from about mid-morning onward and moving offshore over The Solent and IOW. Some cumulus also develops over IOW. Clouds will generally push offshore where they will dissipate. A clear zone is expected off of the IOW south coast.

ORIGINAL POST: 0920 hours
On Aug. 22, 1851, in a light wind off the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, England, a race around the Isle of Wight began in auspicious fashion. The fleet consisted of the usual British cutters and gaff-rigged yachts of the day. It also included a visitor, a schooner from the new world named America.

The legend of the race is well known. Following on a terrible start – America had trouble raising its anchor – the schooner went on to win the 53-nautical-mile jaunt around the island to win the Hundred Pound Cup. Later, the trophy was renamed the America’s Cup when the sole surviving member of the syndicate, George Schuyler, donated the trophy to the New York Yacht Club for friendly competition among foreign nations.

Today, almost 159 years to the day, BMW ORACLE Racing and TEAMORIGIN sail a reenactment of the race in modern America’s Cup Class sloops as the highlight event of The 1851 Cup. Today the trophy is called the Trafalgar Cup, a bulbous trophy specially crafted by Garrard, the royal jeweler that crafted the America’s Cup.

BMW ORACLE Racing and TEAMORIGIN are set to start their race at 1130 Cowes local time. With the southwesterly wind blowing across the Solent at 15 knots, a downwind start is expected. We’ll endeavor to update this blog with reports from the racecourse throughout the day.