Thursday, November 18, 2010

BMW ORACLE Racing wins Round 1 at Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai

BMW ORACLE Racing today wrapped up a nearly flawless performance in Round 1 of the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai with two wins over Mascalzone Latino Audi Team of Italy.

Skipper James Spithill and crew won the two races on Day 5 in light winds by 41 and 45 seconds to finish the round with a 9-1 record. A 1-second loss yesterday is all that kept the 33rd America’s Cup winner from a perfect score.

“I think we sailed pretty well. We had some very, very tight racing,” said Spithill of Australia. “The big improvement has been the communication throughout the boat. John (Kostecki, tactician), Murray (Jones, strategist) and Soapy (Ian Moore, navigator) have done a nice job in the afterguard.”

The last time the team raced a Louis Vuitton event was in La Maddalena, Italy, in June. Coming a few months after February’s emotional win in the America’s Cup, which BMW ORACLE Racing won aboard the 90-foot trimaran USA, the crew wasn’t quite ready to jump back into monohulls.

“We prepared properly for this one,” said Spithill. “We’ve done a lot of work in the afterguard with our coach, Philippe Presti. And Dean Phipps has stepped up the crew work on the boat. Everyone’s been a lot more honest about where we’re at in the monohull world and the amount of work we have to do to get to this level. Everyone’s had an open mind and wants to learn and improve. We’ve just got a very, very good attitude at this event.”

Spithill’s crew has credited him with giving them a great advantage off the start line. Spithill is known as a fierce pre-start competitor, and he’s shown that killer instinct again this week. The skipper credits Presti, the coach from France, for helping him regain his focus.

“A letdown was to be expected in La Maddalena,” said Presti. “It was so soon after the America’s Cup win. I’ve worked with the team to get them to visualize the game. I try to give them options. We’ve been working to create an atmosphere of good relationships and to build everyone’s confidence.”

While communication is flowing in the back of the boat, the good vibes are flowing throughout the crew.

“Everybody’s pretty happy about the performance,” said Brian MacInnes, the port-side grinder from Canada. “Things have tightened up a lot over the past few weeks and we’re getting it done. In the past we’ve been working on other things while in different places and it’s kept our mind out of sailing. This week our mind’s in the game.”

Round 2 of the regatta is scheduled to begin tomorrow. The six crews will sail a single round robin and wins will be worth 2 points instead of 1. The top four crews after the second round advance to the semi-finals, scheduled to begin next Friday, Nov. 26.

Trimmer Ross Halcrow has his eyes on the headsail
Skipper James Spithill checks his watch during a pre-start
BMW ORACLE Racing approaches Mascalzone Latino on starboard tack
Murray Jones in a familiar spot up the rig
On starboard jibe down the run
James Spithill has his eye on the leeward mark