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28 April 2007, 06:53 pm
Desafío Surprises BMW But Americans Remain Top
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Louis Vuitton Cup 2007
Valencia, Spain

The remaining races of Round Robin One were sailed on Saturday at the Louis Vuitton Cup and BMW ORACLE Racing split its matches on the day to stay at the top of the table. The home team, Desafío Español, beat the American team in Flight 10, handing BMW ORACLE Racing its first loss of the round. But skipper Chris DICKSON (NZL) and his crew recovered to beat Emirates Team New Zealand, securing first place.

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Luna Rossa Challenge won both its matches on the day, to finish clear in second place, with the Kiwi team dropping to third. Desafío Español rode its victory over BMW ORACLE Racing to a fourth place finish in Round Robin One.

Conditions were excellent for racing with a 10 knot northeasterly breeze on the race area set up just outside Port America's Cup. A large spectator fleet enjoyed the sunny Saturday weather along with some excellent Louis Vuitton Cup match racing. All of the matches featured fierce pre-starts followed by some classic match racing, as befits racing among the top six challengers.

Round Robin Two begins on Sunday with Flight One scheduled to begin with a warning signal at 14:05.

Flight 10

Of the three matches the biggest upset came when Desafío Español thrilled the weekend spectators by being the first team in Round Robin One to beat BMW ORACLE Racing. While DICKSON's crew had their bow in front coming off the starting line, at the first cross the Spanish were ahead and slowly extended on the left side of the beat to round the weather mark with a 14 second advantage. From here Karol JABLONSKI (POL) at the helm of the Spanish team managed to extend on the run reaching the leeward gate 32 seconds ahead. Desafío Español continued to increase its lead over the next two legs to take a great win for the Spanish team.

One of the closest races was between the two top Italian teams: Luna Rossa and Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team. Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN), behind the wheel of Mascalzone Latino's ITA 99, got the better of Luna Rossa's James SPITHILL (AUS) in the pre-start, winning the right and starting with an early lead. Up the beat after a lengthy tacking duel the Latin Rascals managed to hang on to their advantage, rounding 23 second ahead. Luna Rossa closed on the run, and finally on the second beat Luna Rossa prevailed by making gains on the left hand side of the course. SPITHILL's team rounded the top mark 35 seconds ahead and extended on the final run to take the win by 49 seconds.

The pre-start between Emirates Team New Zealand and Victory Challenge was an unusual one with no dial up. Eventually, Victory Challenge luffed the New Zealand team as both boats were early to the line. Emirates Team New Zealand gave up a lot to start to the right, but this strategy paid off quickly and the Kiwis held a slim advantage up the beat, which they extended the rest of the way around.

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Desafío Español 2007 and BMW ORACLE
Racing
at the startline
© ACM 2007/Photo:Guido Trombetta

Flight 11

In one of the most aggressive starts seen in Round Robin One, both boats were early to the starting line, closer than normal to the pin. DICKSON at the helm of BMW ORACLE Racing managed to lock Emirates Team New Zealand the wrong side of the line, and then took them well beyond the pin at the time of the start gun. While the New Zealanders tacked around to start, BMW ORACLE gybed and stalled in the process, allowing Dean BARKER (NZL) and his team to end up getting the upper hand off the start line.

BMW ORACLE made small gains up the beat and were first to the port layline. Here Emirates Team New Zealand tacked inside them and the two boats rounded simultaneously with BMW ORACLE on the outside - the closest rounding we have seen in this round robin. The New Zealanders mistake was to gybe to the left as BMW ORACLE stuck to the right and with big separation between the two boats, the Kiwis could do nothing as their rivals benefited greatly, reaching the leeward gate 27 seconds ahead.

BMW ORACLE Racing navigator, Peter ISLER (USA) explained, 'At the windward mark, they were still ahead of us, but there was a 1 knot current running against us there and NZL 92 were squeezing very slow against the current to make it around the mark. We came around faster and after a few minutes they were forced to gybe away to avoid being slowed by our bad air.

'After they gybed away, we liked the side of the course we were on, although halfway down the run, the windshift went against us. If we had gybed at that point, the result might have been quite different, but we were patient and the breeze came back our way again. We were also probably gaining a bit more benefit from the current on that side.

Despite a long tacking duel up the second beat, Emirates Team NZ were unable to get back into the match and DICKSON's team finished ahead by 38 seconds, to take first place in Round Robin One, relegating Emirates Team New Zealand to third overall.

'We regard the two round robins of the Louis Vuitton Cup as a single regatta, so we are now at the halfway mark,' said BMW ORACLE Racing navigator, Peter ISLER (USA). 'But, for sure we are glad to be in this position at this stage.'

Emirates Team New Zealand Managing Director and floater Grant DALTON (NZL) was not please with the team's showing in Round Robin One, "We're glad to put it behind us. We're not happy with being third. We were looking for a better performance. We can't wait to get into round robin two tomorrow. We will have to do better."

The most competitive race, came between Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team and Victory Challenge. The Swedes held a small lead up most of the first beat until the boats swapped sides, the Italian team gaining the right side, to round just three seconds ahead. While the run was close between the boats, with Victory briefly taking the lead, Mascalzone pulled ahead at the final stage to round 19 seconds in front. Mascalzone defended well up the second beat until allowing the Swedish team to take the right where they drew level and then pulled ahead as they headed for the port layline. Victory Challenge led around the weather mark with an 18 second advantage, pulling out an extra 10 seconds on the final run to secure its fifth victory of the first Round Robin.

The final match between Luna Rossa and Desafío Español could not have been more different. Instead of massive tacking duels up the beat, both boats opted for a long drag out to the left of the course before tacking back in, the Italian team slowly easing itself ahead to round the weather mark 19 seconds in front. From here the Spanish did not manage to re-engage and Luna Rossa crossed the line with a 37 second final delta.

Louis Vuitton Cup - Saturday's Races

Flight 10

4. Luna Rossa Challenge beat Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team. 0:49
5. Emirates Team New Zealand beat Victory Challenge. 1:42
6. Desafío Español 2007 beat BMW ORACLE Racing. 1:00.

Flight 11

4. Victory Challenge beat Mascalzone Latino Capitalia Team. 0:28
5. Luna Rossa beat Desafío Español 2007. 0:37
6. BMW ORACLE Racing beat Emirates Team New Zealand. 0:38

Louis Vuitton Cup - Round Robin One - Leaderboard
Pos Team Bonus Points Matches Sailed Matches Won Pts
1 BMW ORACLE Racing (USA 98) 3 10 9 21
2 Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA 94) 3 10 8 19
3 Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL 92) 4 10 7 18
4 Desafío Español 2007 (ESP 97) 3 10 7 17
5 Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia (ITA 99) 2 10 6 14
5 Victory Challenge (SWE 96) 2 10 6 14
7 Team Shosholoza (RSA 83) 2 10 5 12
8 Areva Challenge (FRA 93) 1 10 4 9
9 +39 Challenge (ITA 85) 2 10 2 6
10 United Internet Team Germany (GER 89) 1 10 1 3
11 China Team (CHN 95) 1 10 0 1

The America's Cup Match and Challenger/Defender Series are designated as ISAF Special Events. For more information on the America's Cup, the Louis Vuttion Acts and the teams competing, visit the official America's Cup website - www.americascup.com.

For a complete list of all the news about the America's Cup 2007 CLICK HERE.
ACM 2007 (As Amended By ISAF). Image, BMW ORACLE beat Emirates to win Round Robin One:© Gilles Martin-Raget
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