Tuesday, November 16, 2010

BMW ORACLE Racing defeats Synergy, eyes showdown with Kiwis

BMW ORACLE Racing kept its winning streak intact on Day 3 of the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai, but only just.

Competing against Synergy Russian Sailing Team, BMW ORACLE Racing won the first race by 58 seconds. The team then had to scramble from behind in the second race to improve its record to 6-0.

“It feels good to be 6-0, but our second race was quite tight,” said tactician John Kostecki of the U.S. “Synergy got an inside overlap at the bottom mark. We managed to get them to tack away and incur a penalty, and out of that we got the starboard advantage and got ahead on the last beat. It was a good race.”

The second race was tight from the start. The two yachts came off the start line close together, with BMW ORACLE Racing to leeward and its bow slightly ahead (above). BMW ORACLE Racing led by 12 seconds at the first mark after Synergy had to complete two extra tacks.

The American yacht maintained its lead down the run, but Kostecki said they got into trouble when he misjudged the layline, the optimum course to the next mark.

“I called a bad layline and put the boat in a position we call ‘no man’s land,’” he said. “We ended up losing a lot and having to drop the spinnaker early. They carried theirs in and got the inside overlap and rounded ahead of us.”

Then the key moment of the race occurred. To leeward and outside, BMW ORACLE Racing skipper James Spithill luffed twice. After the second luff the on-water umpires penalized the Russian yacht and helmsman Francesco Bruni of Italy for failing to keep clear as a windward yacht.

“We luffed, they kept clear, but stayed there,” Kostecki said. “We luffed again and they were still there. I think the umps saw they should’ve tacked and penalized them. They tacked away and we were able to rumble out to the right and had a strong position after that.”

BMW ORACLE Racing led by 16 seconds beginning the run to the finish and pushed its record to 6-0. The team leads the standings with 6 points and is followed by Emirates Team New Zealand in second with 2.5 points on a 3-2 record.

Tomorrow sees the two teams, the two most experienced crews in the regatta, square off for two races that should provide enthralling racing. BMW ORACLE Racing won the 33rd America’s Cup in February, while Team New Zealand was a finalist in the 32nd Cup and previously won two Cups (1995, 2000). Additionally, Team New Zealand won the past two Louis Vuitton Trophy events in Italy (June) and New Zealand (March).

Looking forward to the showdown, Kostecki and the crew were happy to have a tough race against Synergy.

“I think if we would’ve won that second race [without incident] we probably would’ve come out flat tomorrow,” Kostecki said. “Behind the scenes, it was good to have a tough race like that and make some mistakes.”

Racing tomorrow isn’t scheduled to start before 12:00 pm.

BMW ORACLE Racing leads off the start line in the first race against Synergy.
BMW ORACLE and Synergy on a run of the first race.
A clean rounding at the leeward mark.
Bowman Piet van Nieuwenhuyzen and back-up mid-bow David Blanchfield.
Sailing off-wind.