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15 May 2007, 03:47 pm
BMW Fights Back Whilst Emirates Extend
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Louis Vuitton Cup 2007
Valencia, Spain

Match of the day in Valencia witnessed a terrific comeback by Chris DICKSON (NZL) and the BMW ORACLE Racing team as the overturned a big deficit to square their Louis Vuitton Cup Semi Final with Luna Rossa Challenge at 1-1. On the other course Emirates Team New Zealand went 2-0 up after scoring a comfortable win over Desafío Español 2007.

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BMW ORACLE Racing earned one of the great comebacks in the 32nd America's Cup, beating Luna Rossa Challenge after trailing by as much as 58 seconds at the first windward mark. The American team was 14 seconds behind at the beginning of the final run, but made a great pass down the left hand side of the race course, streaking past what appeared to be a slower Italian boat.

There were ideal sea breeze conditions on the waters off Valencia on Tuesday, with Easterly winds from 10 to 14 knots. A large spectator fleet enjoyed the action on a sunny afternoon.

Match 1 - Emirates Team New Zealand beat Desafío Español 2007 - DELTA 0:40

Emirates Team New Zealand enjoyed a pleasantly uncomplicated match against Desafío Español, with Dean BARKER (NZL) winning the start and taking a few early windshifts to steer NZL 92 to an early lead.

Emirates strategist Ray DAVIES (NZL), explained, 'We certainly liked the upper right side of the course and saw a phasing breeze left and right. We spent time working on the numbers and did a good job in the pre-start with a nice initial jump. We set up to windward and protected the right from then onwards and made a big gain continuing out that way.'

By the first mark, the Kiwis were already leading by 1 minute 15 seconds. That would be the biggest delta of the match as the Spanish were fast downwind, making ground on both offwind legs to reduce the gap to 40 seconds by the finish. According to DAVIES, 'The conditions deteriorated and on the last run it was hard to cover the boat behind. The Spanish made a good gain on us. I think the other match was learning more from watching us than us from them.'

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The Kiwis went 2-0 up against Desafio
© Chris Cameron/ETNZ

Despite the Spanish fight back, never for a moment did the New Zealanders look seriously threatened, and now they are 2-0 up in the series. After two comfortable wins for Emirates Team New Zealand the pressure is now on Desafio Español 2007 to take the fight to the Kiwis. Tactician for the Spaniards, John CUTLER (NZL) pointed to two key areas in which the team must improve, 'We will focus hard on the start, hard on the strategy for the first shift, and I think if we can get in front or get close we can make a tough race out of it. We have a lot of confidence in Karol JABLONSKI [(POL)]. I think he is starting to get on more of a roll in the pre-starts so we've got to do our absolute best to either win the start, or get an advantage off the line. Then it's up to myself and Luis DORESTE [(ESP)] to pick the better series of shifts up through the first beat. I think that's probably the two areas that we'll keep our focus on.'

Match 2 - BMW ORACLE Racing beat Luna Rossa Challenge - DELTA 0:13

James SPITHILL (AUS) took the fight to DICKSON in the pre-start and made it pay, taking Luna Rossa to an early lead off the starting line.

'James had a fantastic start,' said Luna Rossa navigator Michele IVALDI (ITA). 'Our goal was to get the best start and our weather team gave a good call so we accomplished that well. We had the match in front and we could see we had the lead increasing.'

Unlike yesterday's match between these two, which was notable for big splits up the windward legs, Luna Rossa's tactician Torben GRAEL (BRA) kept a tighter game in the steadier, moderate onshore breezes for today's racing.

At the first mark the Italian lead was a surprisingly large 58 seconds, but DICKSON switched on the pace downwind, with USA 98 storming up behind ITA 94. By the leeward mark the gap was down to 20 seconds, with the Italians rounding the gate and heading off to the right and the Americans taking the left.

Up the next windward leg the match was very tight early, with SPITHILL only just hanging on to the lead. But then both teams were happy to diverge on opposite tacks, until at one point they were more than 1,500 metres apart across the course. However when they came back together at the top of the course, there was nothing to choose between these two, and DICKSON was so close that he was able to initiate a luffing match close to the top mark.

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USA 98 and ITA 94 in the pre-start
© Th.Martinez

Although USA 98 looked incredibly fast downwind, IVALDI said it was more than just boat speed that closed the gap, 'Downwind we got out of phase and it was tough to keep our lead. You cannot close that just on boat speed. I think they got two or three good puffs in phase, and made our job even harder. It was a turning point when we got out of phase, and we couldn't go back. Thinking the Valencian sea breeze was stable misled us.'

SPITHILL and his crew kept their nerve to tack around the mark first, just 14 seconds ahead of DICKSON, but the American hoist was much smoother and USA 98 was poised to pounce. GRAEL decided to defend the right-hand side of the course, but it was the last weapon in his armoury as USA 98 again showed superior downwind speed to sail around and through the Italians' cover to sneak across the finish line ahead, completing a stunning and crucial turnaround for BMW ORACLE Racing.

Commenting on yet another impressive comeback by the Americans, Peter ISLER (USA), navigator on USA 98 said, 'It's more fun and more spectacular! It is certainly harder on the heart, but with a great crew and boat, coming back is all part of the scene. Sometimes you are not going to come off the line first or get the first shifts so you have to have that ability if you want to win the Cup. Our strategy is to come into the Semi Final with the best possible equipment honed to the right mode. We are faster than ever before - but it doesn't always matter, as we have seen in the last couple of days where the sailors actually make a difference too.'

BMW ORACLE Racing owner, Larry ELLISON (USA) was delighted with the team's performance, 'We had great crew work all the way around the track. Chris DICKSON did an awesome job on the helm and the trimmers did an awesome job. Coming down the final run, Luna Rossa Challenge gybed right onto our wind. Chris DICKSON did an amazing job of wriggling out of it, soaking down when he had to and driving up when he had to. I am just in awe of what the guys did. With the series squared at 1-1, right now I feel great about tomorrow.'

Louis Vuitton Cup - Tuesday's Semi Final Matches
(the first team to win five points in each pairing advances)

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Total
Emirates Team New Zealand 1 1 2
Desafío Español 2007 0 0 0
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Total
BMW ORACLE Racing 0 1 1
Luna Rossa Challenge 1 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 Racing were the stars today in Valencia:© Gilles Martin-Raget
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