Saturday, February 7, 2009

British Nail Convincing Win Against Italy

British Nail Convincing Win Against Italy

AUCKLAND, NZ – A taut and tense battle between Italy’s Luna Rossa and the newcomer British team TEAMORIGIN went to the wire in a fresh southerly breeze during racing on the Waitemata Harbour today in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series. The British team won by four seconds, barely a boatlength.

A first attempt to race was abandoned in light air when the time limit ran out and the race committee moved to a new course as the southerly filled in. Spectators crowding North Head were treated to a battle royal as Cup veteran Peter Holmberg steering the Italian boat swapped tacks and gybes with three-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie. After a pre-start that included a high-speed reach into the spectator fleet, the pair split at the gun with the Italians going right and the Britons going left. A big left shift under North Head put the Italians just ahead at the weather mark.

The boats tore down the run, side by side, but despite his efforts Ainslie’s team trailed by 16 seconds as they split at the leeward gate. Another challenging beat ended when Luna Rossa carried the British boat past the mark.

Both boats wheeled into crash gybe sets around the buoy with the Italians just in front. The Britons split away on the run and moved out to an 80 meter lead as they closed the finish line on opposite gybes. The gun sounded for TEAMORIGIN with the Italian boat only a boat length and four seconds astern.

In other racing today, Alinghi conceded a match to Emirates Team New Zealand by failing to start. In the other Gold Fleet race, BMW Oracle Racing beat Damiani Italia Challenge. In the Silver Fleet China Team finished the round unbeaten with a convincing win over Pataugas K Challenge, while the Greek Challenge gained some redemption with a victory over Team Shosholoza.

Gold Fleet scores: Alinghi, 2 points; BMW Oracle Racing, 2; TEAMORIGIN, 0.5; Damiani Italia Challenge, 0; Luna Rossa, 0. (Emirates Team New Zealand is not awarded points in this round). Silver Fleet: China Team, 3; Pataugas K-Challenge, 2; Greek Challenge, 1; Team Shosholoza, 0.
The event web site has content in English French and Italian. Race reports, press reports, features and photographs are being updated daily. The site includes a link to live streaming radio commentary about the racing originating from Auckland’s radio BSport Sailing 103FM.

The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series is being organised in association with the New Zealand Government, Emirates Team New Zealand, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Auckland City and SKYCITY Entertainment Group.