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31 May 2005, 12:32 pm
Challengers Lead Trophy Match 3-2
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International Catamaran Challenge Trophy 2005
Rimini, Italy

The competition for the 25th International Catamaran Challenge Trophy (ICCT), started today in Rimini, Italy sailing Bimare, Javelin 2's, right where it left off in 2004 and 2003.
This year's regatta is coordinated by the BLURimini organization and the Vela Viva Sailing Club.

In 2004, the team of John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE (USA), number two in the Tornado ISAF World Sailing Rankings and 2004 Olympic silver medallists, took six races to defeat Enrique FIGUEROA and Jorge HERNANDEZ (PUR). In 2003, LOVELL and OGLETREE took seven races to defeat the Italian team (ITA) of Daniele SARAGONI and Teo BATISTE. Today's start of the ICCT Trophy Match is a re-match between LOVELL and OGLETREE (the defender from Southern YC, New Orleans, USA) and SARAGONI and BATISTE (the challenger from Club Circolo Vela Cesenatico, Cesenatico, Italy), however so far the Italians are in control with a lead of 3-2. Racing continues tomorrow in the best of seven series.

The first race began after 1400 hours local time in winds of about seven knots. The Italians had the yellow (starboard) entry, but LOVELL and OGLETREE were better tactically and controlled the start and the first leg to windward. It quickly became apparent that SARAGONI and BATISTE had superior speed in the wind range. They took control and increased their lead on each leg finishing more than one and a half minutes in front. The course was windward/leeward three times around.

The teams switch boats after odd number races and each team had 15 minutes to check out the new boat before the next starting sequence. The Americans had the yellow entry in the second race. They controlled their opponents and led by a slim margin at every mark finishing about 24 seconds ahead. The wind had increased during the race to about nine knots but dropped down to about seven knots as the third race was about to begin.

For the third race, although entering from the port side, LOVELL and OGLETREE took control and held it until the last twenty seconds when they got squeezed out at the committee boat end of the line and had to gybe away just before the start. Even with the gybe, they were only a couple of seconds late. Again, SARAGONI and BATISTE with their speed, were able to avoid engaging and sped away to an ever increasing lead finally finishing more than two and a half minutes before the Defenders.

A point of interest became apparent during the races. The course became very lopsided with regard to wind speed. The wind on the right hand side of the course was much stronger, so that whoever controlled that side had a considerable advantage, and their were limited the options for the team behind. At the start of the fourth race, LOVELL and OGLETREE had yellow, took control, and slowly built a lead which they held on to to win by over a minute.

In the fifth race, the Americans forced SARAGONI and BATISTE into a penalty before the start, then won the start, but the wind had dropped, and the advantage was lost due to SARAGONI and BATISTE's speed. Nevertheless, LOVELL and OGLETREE hung on hoping to use the Italians penalty absolving manoeuvring as an opportunity to regain the lead. SARAGONI and BATISTE sailed to a sufficient lead on the third upwind leg to do their 270 degree penalty turn with room to spare. The Americans tried to go deep while maintaining speed on the final downwind leg and closed the gap but finished about twenty seconds behind. Final score for the day: Challenger 3, Defender 2.

Douglas Wefer (As Amended By ISAF). Image, SARAGONI and BATISTE hold the lead in Italy:© Massimo Martino
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