The weather took a turn for the worse yesterday, with rain showers putting a damper on the festivities but not the BMW Oracle squad as Larry ELLISON'S team sailed another strong match in the first contest, extending its lead in the UBS Trophy.
But Team Alinghi fought back, winning the second start, and covering well in a good overall performance in the second race of the day. The teams split the day's races for the first time in the regatta.
The wind was light for the first match at seven to 10 knots, and the shifty, South-easterly breeze challenged the Race Committee who responded with an action inducing race course - each leg was just one mile long. In the second match the wind had picked up to a solid 15 knot breeze and the one mile legs on the short, two and a half-lap course provided a big challenge for both crews.
Today is a lay day at the UBS Trophy with no races scheduled. On Thursday, racing resumes with the first two Owner-Driver races, as well as race nine of the Pro-Driver series.
UBS TROPHY - Pro-Driver Series - Race Seven of 12
BMW ORACLE RACING beat ALINGHI - Delta 0:39
BMW ORACLE RACING LEADS THE PRO-DRIVER SERIES 7 POINTS TO 2
Team Alinghi appeared to be vulnerable at one point in the pre-start, sailing well to windward of the starting line, with BMW ORACLE in position to perhaps hold them out from the line. But Alinghi helmsman Peter HOLMBERG was able to get his team out of trouble there, and Alinghi appeared to start strongly, slightly ahead and to leeward on the left of the BMW ORACLE boat.
Gavin BRADY, the BMW ORACLE helmsman, immediately tacked to the right, to clear his air while Alinghi sailed on for several boat-lengths before also tacking. A significant left shift meant the first leg would be nearly all port tack, and Alinghi appeared to be able to lay the mark. At the same time, as the boats approached the top mark, it became clear BMW ORACLE would need two tacks to make it around.
But when Brady tacked, the afterguard on Alinghi realised they wouldn't be able to cross the starboard tack BMW ORACLE boat, and Holmberg put the helm down to cross behind. Brady was able to sneak inside at the mark rounding and BMW ORACLE led by 10-seconds around the first mark.
BMW ORACLE was able to extend on the first run with its spinnaker, compared to the Alinghi asymmetrical gennaker, and Brady enjoyed a 36-second lead after the first lap of the course. With the Race Committee unable to completely realign the race-course because of the constraints of the shoreline, passing opportunities were all but non-existent, and Alinghi fell for the fifth consecutive race.
UBS TROPHY - Pro-Driver Series - Race Eight of 12
ALINGHI beats BMW ORACLE RACING - Delta 0:24
BMW ORACLE RACING LEADS THE PRO-DRIVER SERIES 7 POINTS TO 4
Team Alinghi needed to win this match to keep BMW ORACLE Racing in sight on the leaderboard, and helmsman Peter HOLMBERG responded with a strong start, setting the team up for victory.
The boats engaged in some fierce circling in the pre-start, before breaking back towards the starting line. Holmberg held his nerve, and was able to grab the right hand side, pushing Brady to the left. BMW ORACLE had more speed at the start, as Alinghi threw in two quick tacks to take the right side, but it was a price worth paying, as Alinghi was able to sail most of the first beat in more favourable current.
Each time the boats converged on the first leg, Alinghi used its starboard tack advantage to protect its position on the right side of the race-course, and that strategy paid off with a 13-second lead around the top mark.
BMW ORACLE made a nice move rounding the mark, throwing in a quick gybe that allowed it to sail a shorter distance to the next mark. Nearing the leeward mark, the Alinghi afterguard realised they were vulnerable and luffed up sharply, sacrificing a bit of their lead to ensure they would round the leeward mark first.
BMW ORACLE was trailing by just 10-seconds at that bottom mark, but Alinghi again covered well and extended on the upwind leg, and protected its lead diligently around the rest of the race-course.