Sunday, November 21, 2010

BMW ORACLE Racing keeps top spot at Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai after split

By splitting its two races today BMW ORACLE Racing maintained the top spot at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai.

BMW ORACLE Racing skipper James Spithill and his crew split their races against All4One, the combined French/German team, and the Swedish flagged Artemis Racing, a challenger for the 34th America’s Cup.

BMW ORACLE defeated Artemis by 1 minute and 3 seconds in the second race while All4One scored a 45-second victory in the first.

“It was a little disappointing to lose the first race, but give credit to All4One,” said Ian Moore, the navigator from England. “They started well and sailed impeccably well. We see a lot in these races that if you win the start it helps to go on and win the race, and that’s what they did.

“But you can’t let it get you down. You’re going to lose races in a tournament as long as this and we rallied in the second race. Jimmy got a fantastic start and John (Kostecki, tactician) did a nice job calling the race and picking the shifts. It was good to get a victory against a strong team like Artemis.”

Day 8 of the regatta that runs through next weekend got off to a slow start as the race committee postponed the first start for more than two hours waiting for the wind to settle. Once in, the conditions were some of the lightest of the week, 6 knots from a northerly direction.

In the first race, the key moment came about two-thirds of the way up the beat. BMW ORACLE and All4One approached each other on opposite tacks, with BMW ORACLE holding the starboard advantage. But All4One was able to tack to starboard on the leeward bow of the American yacht and gain control of the match.

“It was a split tack start and we were in phase coming off the line on port tack with a left shift,” said Moore. “Later up the beat a right shift did come in, but if it had come in 30 seconds earlier we might’ve had a different result. They got a strong lee bow and did a good job not giving us an opportunity to get past the rest of the way.”

In the second race Spithill gave his crew an early advantage off the start line, crossing the line as the starting signal sounded while Artemis was slow and a few seconds late, but to windward.

The key moment came about 2 minutes in when BMW ORACLE was able to ride port tack across the bow of Artemis and plant a covering tack. From there Spithill and crew covered to sail away to their largest win of the series.

“We could almost tack and cross them straight after the start, but we held on for a little longer,” Moore said. “Then they got up to speed and it started looking dubious. We were getting out towards the port tack layline and at some point you’ve just got to go for it. You tack, have a look and decide if you can cross. If you can, that’s it. It was a very important moment in the race and we all sort of held our breath, but in the end it was an easy cross.”

The win improved BMW ORACLE Racing’s record to 11-2, good for 13 points, and allowed the team to keep its 4.5-point cushion over second-placed Emirates Team New Zealand on the leaderboard ahead of tomorrow’s showdown race. The pair is the third scheduled match of the day and will race in BMW ORACLE Racing’s two boats.

Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai Standings
1. BMW ORACLE Racing (USA) James Spithill – 13 points (11-2)
2. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker – 8.5 points (7-5)*
3. All4One (FRA/GER) Sebastien Col – 6 points (5-6)
4. Artemis Racing (SWE) Cameron Appleton – 5 points (5-7)
5. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team (ITA) Gavin Brady – 4 points (4-7)*
5. Synergy Russian Sailing Team (RUS) Francesco Bruni – 4 points (5-6)*
(* Points deducted for collision)

BMW ORACLE Racing leads Artemis Racing to the first windward mark
In the pre-start against All4One
More pre-start versus All4One
Chasing All4One downwind, with no lane to pass
Pressed up trying to roll the French/German team
Riding starboard across Artemis Racing