BMW ORACLE Racing widened the gap at the top of the leaderboard with two more wins in the Louis Vuitton Cup Round Robin One regatta in Valencia today, maintaining its unbeaten record and jumping three points clear of the next team.
With two more matches left to complete the opening round, USA 98 is on 19 points, with Emirates Team New Zealand on 16 points, setting up a much-anticipated battle between the two top teams tomorrow. USA 98 is also scheduled to meet the respected Spanish Desafio Espanol team tomorrow, making for a challenging final-day program.
USA 98 beat two Italian teams in today’s racing, first with a comfortable win over the +39 team and then with an enthralling battle against the Mascalzone Latino Capitalia team, which ended with the yachts racing in near darkness as night descended on Valencia.
USA 98 came from behind on the first windward leg and, after a 25-tack duel, emerged with the lead and a penalty over the Italian team. 'We had a fun first beat against Mascalzone Latino Capitalia,' said BMW ORACLE Racing navigator, Peter Isler. 'Every race where you have a lead change and a lot of action like that is fun.' Race one summary:
Sailing in a 7-9 knot breeze, USA 98 hit the line at speed on starboard tack at the pin end of the line, with the +39 crew downspeed on port tack at the Committee Boat end. As it has throughout this regatta, USA 98 stuck to the textbook and immediately tacked to slam a tight cover on the Italians. USA 98 completed only three tacks in the first windward leg and two tacks in the second. The mark rounding deltas were 38 seconds, 52 seconds and 1 minute 46 seconds in favour of USA 98. At the finish line, BMW ORACLE Racing recorded a convincing 2 minute 14 second win. Race two summary:
After a split-tack start, the Italian team gained an early advantage and when the yachts converged on the upwind leg, Mascalzone was able to cross ahead on port. A 25-tack duel followed up the windward leg in a breeze of 10-12 knots. Towards the top of the leg, Mascalzone Latino Capitalia was penalised for tacking too close. USA 98 maintained a cover over Mascalzone for the rest of the match, but extended constantly round the track, leading by 20 seconds at the first mark, 42 seconds at the leeward mark and 1 minute 9 seconds at the final mark. By the time Mascalzone Latino Capitalia completed its 270° penalty turn, the finish delta was 1 minute 38 seconds in favour of USA 98. Quotes from Peter Isler:
'Mascalzone did a nice job out of the start, getting an early lift off the line when the breeze shifted to the left. After that they tried to push us out to the port layline and in the process we engaged in a rapid-fire tacking duel. Our guys did a great job of grinding into them, tack for tack. Towards the top of the first windward leg, they tacked too close and the umpires penalised them. Once we were in the lead, we were able to boatspeed away from them.'
In order to complete the second match of the day, the Race Committee shifted the course and racing got away, by agreement, after the usual 6.30pm deadline. 'It was a tricky situation,' said Isler. 'We had to do a last-minute mainsail change and shift from one course to another. Everybody did a great job of getting things rolling in a very short time. 'It is nice to have a three-point margin on the leaderboard, but it is very early days. There is a long way to go yet. We are just taking it one race at a time.'