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7 May 2007, 05:30 pm
Victory Challenge Stays Alive
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Louis Vuitton Cup 2007
Valencia, Spain

When the week began, the Swedish Victory Challenge found itself needing to win its remaining three matches in Round Robin Two to have any hope of qualifying for the Semi Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup. On Monday, the Swedes leapt over the first hurdle, by beating the team they are chasing, Desafío Español 2007.

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Each team now has two matches left. Any combination of either a Spanish win or Swedish loss will see the home Spanish in the Semi Final.

In other matches, Emirates Team New Zealand stayed in the hunt to overhaul the top point getter, BMW ORACLE Racing, with a win over Luna Rossa Challenge. BMW ORACLE Racing is one point ahead, and will face the Kiwis on the final day, potentially with first place on the line.

It was another day with great sea breeze sailing on the waters off Port America's Cup. Ten to 12 knot southeasterlies provided ideal racing conditions, and the teams revelled in them.

Flight 9

Desafío Español helmsman Karol JABLONSKI (POL) seemed to want the right at the start, and fought hard to defend that side. However, Victory made the faster start to the left, and when they tacked the Swedes had a small edge.

Magnus HOLMBERG (SWE) gained a small lead around the top mark and extended down the run. However, some of the gybes from the Swedish crew looked a little poorer than those by their competition and the Spaniards closed the gap towards the leeward gate. It looked like the Swedes had left it very late to drop their spinnaker and when they attempted to bring it down, it flew out to leeward and fell into the water.

With the Spaniards just seconds behind, there was a narrow gap between the leeward mark and the spinnaker now floating on the surface. It didn't seem to affect the course of the Spanish boat around the mark, although a red flag went up in protest from ESP 97. From there the Swedes defended their lead successfully up the final beat, but again looked shaky down the final run. Gybing late for the finish, it looked for a moment like the Swedes had opened the door to the faster Spanish boat, but they crossed the finishing line just 7 seconds ahead.

It was the fourth win in a row for the Swedish challenger, but extending that run further looks like a tough task with Emirates Team New Zealand awaiting in Tuesday's match. However the mood in the Victory camp remains confident. 'I'm absolutely sure we can beat them,' said Santiago LANGE (ARG), traveller on SWE 96.

'We are still improving. We are sailing very well. We almost beat ORACLE, and I think we have a good chance of winning tomorrow. We will certainly fight,' was HOLMBERG's assessment.

+39 Challenge had yet to post a win on the board in Round Robin Two, and it seemed unlikely they would gain one against Shosholoza. However Iain PERCY (GBR) did a nice job in the pre-start and led a downspeed RSA 83 off the start line. By the time both boats were up to speed, ITA 85 was a boat length ahead and PERCY managed to cross clear ahead of Paola CIAN (ITA) at the first cross, claiming the right-hand side of the course. +39 extended to a surprisingly comfortable 50 second win over the South Africans.

The race between BMW ORACLE Racing and Mascalzone Latino was a duel between two of the best starters in the business, and it looked as though Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN) had got the better of Chris DICKSON (NZL). Appearing as though he was shut out above the starboard layline, DICKSON bore away for a last-gasp attempt at hooking his bow around the stern of the Italian boat. He never managed the hook, but he got close enough to scare the black boat over the line two seconds early. By the time the Italian boat had re-started, the Americans were long gone, racing away to a 57 second victory.

Both Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge started well and fought for control up the windward leg, throwing 33 tacks at each other. The Kiwis seemed to have a slight edge of speed in the 13 knot breeze, and by the top of the beat they had used that advantage to carry the Italians past the starboard layline. From there the Kiwis controlled the match for a 36-second win.

Areva and China Team both started well, but the speed difference soon became apparent as the French sailors moved to an untroubled lead, extending to 3 minutes 3 seconds by the finish.

Louis Vuitton Cup - Monday's Matches

Flight 9

1. +39 Challenge beat Team Shosholoza. 0:50
2. Areva Challenge beat China Team. 3:03
4. BMW ORACLE Racing beat Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team. 0:57
5. Victory Challenge beat Desafío Español 2007. 0:07
6. Emirates Team New Zealand beat Luna Rossa Challenge. 0:36

Bye - United Internet Team Germany

Louis Vuitton Cup - Round Robin Two - Leaderboard
Pos Team Points - End of RR1 Matches Sailed RR2 Matches Won RR2 Pts
1 BMW ORACLE Racing (USA 98) 21 8 7 35
2 Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL 92) 18 8 8 34
3 Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA 94) 19 8 6 31
4 Desafío Español 2007 (ESP 97) 17 8 6 29
5 Victory Challenge (SWE 96) 14 8 6 26
6 Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia (ITA 99) 14 8 3 20
7 Team Shosholoza (RSA 83) 12 9 3 18
8 Areva Challenge (FRA 93) 9 8 3 15
9 +39 Challenge (ITA 85) 6 8 1 8
10 United Internet Team Germany (GER 89) 3 8 1 5
11 China Team (CHN 95) 1 9 1 3

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, Victory Challenge beat Desafio Español to keep their Semi Final hopes alive:© ACM 2007/Photo: Vicent Bosch
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