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2 June 2005, 10:13 am
LOVELL And OGLETREE Successfully Defend Title
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International Catamaran Challenge Trophy 2005
Rimini, Italy

When the two teams first met in Newport, Rhode Island, USA in September 2003 the series winner was not decided until the last leg of the seventh and final race. For the 25th International Catamaran Challenge Trophy (ICCT) hosted in Rimini, Italy the competition was no less exciting and even featured an eighth race to determine the winner.
The Defender representing the Southern Yacht Club, New Orleans, USA, Olympic silver medallists in the Tornado, John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE (USA), defeated Daniele SARAGONI and Teo BATTISTA (ITA) from Club Circolo Vela Cesenatico, Cesenatico, Italy 4-3 in the series, coordinated by the BLURimini organization and the Vela Viva Sailing Club, which finished on Tuesday.

Prior to the Trophy Match, BLURimini proposed a fleet race in the Bimare supplied Javelin 2's among the earlier eliminated Challengers and Defenders. This race was started shortly after 1400 hours local time. The race was hotly contested with all participants finishing within a minute of the winner's time. Mark MURRAY and crew Alejo EFRE-PEREZ sailed a flawless race and came home the winners.

The fleet race served a dual purpose in that it gave the Race Committee information for setting the distance to the windward mark in the prevailing conditions in order to have a race of approximately 45 minutes in duration.

The sixth race of the Trophy Match began at about 1500 with the wind speed about 12-14 knots. LOVELL and OGLETREE had the yellow/starboard entry based on the previous alternating starts. They won the start and proved to have at least equal boatspeed in the wind range. The Defenders protected their lead and their margin was about 25 seconds at the windward mark but this lead was narrowed by two or three seconds at the first leeward rounding. LOVELL and OGLETREE maintained their lead throughout the race and evened the series at 3-3. There was some a protest by the Challenger alleging prejudice by a photography boat that was disallowed and so the competitors turned toward the seventh and final race.

Flag foxtrot (the attention signal) was hoisted and the next sequence began. SARAGONI and BATISTE had the favoured entry and had early control of their opponent, following on starboard tack, but they tacked back to port to gain the right side of the starting box. The Americans immediately followed back to port to gain a controlling position and after both boats turned back onto starboard to approach the starting line they held the leeward position and forced the Challengers to lose time and speed by gybing away behind the Committee boat. LOVELL and OGLETREE won the start, covered each maneuver by SARAGONI and BATISTE to protect their lead, and finished first to notch their fourth win and take the Trophy.

Ashore, a protest was filed and the decision was made to re-sail the sixth race. The competitors re-dressed and set off for the sailing area.

For the sixth race re-sail LOVELL and OGLETREE were aggressive in their pre-start maneuvering and forced two penalties on the Italians. LOVELL and OGLETREE won the start and worked out to a 35 second lead that they maintained throughout the early part of the race. SARAGONI and BATISTE cleared one of their penalties right after the start and saved the second penalty clearing for later. The Americans maintained a reasonably comfortable lead but got into trouble when their spinnaker fouled on a mainsail batten on the final hoist of the last downwind leg. They lost valuable seconds before it could be cleared and would have won by about 17 seconds except for the fact that SARAGONI and BATISTE were required to clear their penalty at the finish. This increased the margin substantially. LOVELL and OGLETREE successfully defended their ICCT title in an extremely close and hard fought contest.

Despite the tensions created by the sixth race re-sail, there were high spirits at the awards ceremony, good sportsmanship all around, squirting of the bubbly, and dunking the winners, and others, in the marina. There was the serious side as well, including the Trophy awards and many thanks to the organizers, staff, volunteers, umpires, Race Committee personnel, and competitors, and finally the presentation of the prize money to the finalists.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The ICCT title went down to the wire:© Massimo Martino
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