Friday, November 26, 2010

Showdown with Team New Zealand looms

BMW ORACLE Racing advanced to the final of the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai, the fitting finale for America’s Cup Class monohulls, with a sterling performance in today’s semifinal round.

Led by skipper James Spithill, the American team, which won the 33rd America’s Cup in February, defeated the German/French All4One crew 2-0 to advance to the final where it will meet Emirates Team New Zealand, also a 2-0 winner in the semifinal round.

The winning formula for today was as it’s been throughout the regatta that began 13 days ago. Tactician John Kostecki and strategist Murray Jones called the windshifts with aplomb and trimmers Dirk de Ridder (mainsail), Ross Halcrow (headsails) and Joey Newton (spinnakers) kept the boat moving fast. Not to mention, the sailhandling at the turning marks was flawless.

“It’s nice to have the option to put the boat where you want and the guys take care of the rest,” said Spithill. “We’ve got the option to go toe-to-toe or, if JK and Murray see a shift, we can speed to that. The guys have been spot on throughout the regatta.”

Spithill has been spot on too, especially in the pre-start sequence. Once again, he gave his crew the ability to call free races by winning the starts.

In the first pre-start, Spithill got a penalty on All4One for jibing too close. That penalty came in handy during the second upwind leg when All4One closed to within one length as the two crews combined for 25 tacks in a furious duel.

“We set the penalty up in the dial-up,” Spithill said. “We got control and forced him into a tight situation and he went for it. Turns out we didn’t need it, but it was nice to have that penalty in the back pocket.”

In the second race the two crews came off the line at opposite ends, but BMW ORACLE Racing was at speed at the pin end while All4One was tacking to starboard at the committee boat, making the French/German team slow off the line.

After entering onto the racecourse, BMW ORACLE Racing quickly tacked to port to get to the right and take advantage of the downspeed All4One and a right-hand windshift.

“The second start changed quite a bit during the pre-start,” Spithill said. “Initially there was a pin bias and we were going to take it, but then the wind went way right. We came off the line and JK called a tack right away. I think the fact we tacked so quickly put them under pressure.”

Tomorrow’s final against Team New Zealand pits Spithill against old rival Dean Barker. The two raced the Louis Vuitton Cup final during the 32nd America’s Cup in 2007. It’s a showdown Spithill is looking forward to.

“I’m convinced we haven’t seen our best yet, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” Spithill said.

Uphill/downhill: BMW ORACLE Racing and All4One bisect Team New Zealand and Mascalzone Latino
Bowman Piet van Nieuwenhuyzen is dwarfed by the ACC headsails
The Race 1 start: BMW ORACLE Racing to windward
The Race 2 start: Taking a stern to get to the right
BMW ORACLE Racing was in control on the runs
The Race 2 finish ensured advancement to the final