Friday, January 30, 2009

Origin wins Day 1 in Louis Vuitton Pacific Series

Juerg Kaufmann of By Stuart Alexander in Auckland -

Ben Ainslie steers Team Origin to victory with Iain Percy as tactician
A satisfying first win was notched up by Britain's Origin America's Cup team in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in New Zealand today.

It was made sweeter because it was against one of the top teams attracted to the opportunity of some stiff competition in a European winter and at a time when the Cup itself is frozen in the American courts.

With quadruple Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie as skipper, the British team made short work of a crew which is led by Peter Holmberg and includes Ainslie's arch rival on the Olympic circuit, Brazilian Robert Scheidt.

"We are really happy to win out first ever match race against Luna Rossa, a team always viewed as one of the top four in the America's Cup," said Ainslie's tactician and double gold medallist Iain Percy. "Ben did a great job gaining an advantage off the start line."

But there was a costly mix-up at the start of the race between the Cup holders Alinghi and a brand new team from Greece, though skippered by the US-based Kiwi Gavin Brady. A misjudgement caused a collision with the stern of the Team New Zealand boat which the Alinghi crews was sailing, resulting in a chunk being knocked out of the matching TNZ boat being sailed by the Greeks.

Sam Davies is set to move up to third on the water in the Vendee Globe solo round the world race after second-placed Roland Jourdain reported he had lost his keel bulb.
'Bilou', as he is known, is limping the 600 miles to the Azores, but his hopes of making it all the way back to the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, are slim.

Davies, whose boat Roxy was first in both 2000 and 2004 as PRB, has to beat the man in fourth place, Marc Guillemot, by over 50 hours to secure that third place as he has 82 hours in hand for standing by Yann Elies during a rescue operation and Davies was given 32 hours for being diverted.

It would also mean Brian Thompson would move up to fifth, Dee Caffari to sixth and Steve White to eighth.

The leader, Michel Desjoyeaux, was moving through the 700 miles to go marker but a shadow was hanging over his prospect of adding 2008-09 to his 2000-01 win as it has to be established if he has a valid certificate for his 60-foot Foncia. He could finish on Sunday.