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2 May 2007, 07:00 pm
Luna Rossa And BMW Tied At The Top
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Louis Vuitton Cup 2007
Valencia, Spain

It took two come-from-behind victories for BMW ORACLE Racing to stay equal with the red hot Luna Rossa Challenge on Wednesday on a double flight day at the Louis Vuitton Cup. The American team first trailed Shosholoza and then Victory Challenge on the first lap of its two races, before making the pass in both contests to score the points.

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Luna Rossa Challenge, in contrast, had more straightforward wins over United Internet Team Germany and Shosholoza. The Italians and the Americans are tied at the top of the Louis Vuitton Cup leaderboard, equal on 27 points.

Racing took place after a short postponement in 7 to 11 knots of wind which started as a southerly, before shifting southeast. Flight 5 of Round Robin Two is scheduled for Thursday.

Luna Rossa Challenge, in contrast, had more straightforward wins over United Internet Team Germany and Shosholoza. The Italians and the Americans are tied at the top of the Louis Vuitton Cup leaderboard, equal on 27 points.

Racing took place after a short postponement in 7 to 11 knots of wind which started as a southerly, before shifting southeast. Flight 5 of Round Robin Two is scheduled for Thursday.

Flight 3

In Round Robin One the plucky Team Shosholoza had managed to lead the powerful BMW ORACLE Racing around one lap of the course, and today, after starting equally, by the end of the first leg, Shosholoza had edged into the lead. The two boats rounded the weather mark simultaneously and the fledgling South African team managed to remain unflustered as Chris DICKSON (NZL) and his highly experienced crew hounded them on the run. Shosholoza led around the leeward gate by 9 seconds. However the South Africans allowed BMW ORACLE to take the left hand side and the American team found a favourable shift, pulling into the lead as the two boats came back together. Shosholoza finished the race 43 seconds behind.

The pre-start between James SPITHILL (AUS) at the helm of Luna Rossa and triple Olympic medallist Jesper BANK (DEN) on United Internet Team Germany was lively with BANK receiving a penalty as he failed to keep clear as SPITHILL was attempting to keep him pinned out on the wrong side of the start line. Once under way Luna Rossa outgunned the German team and extended their lead to finish 1:02 ahead after United Internet completed her penalty turn.

Andrew HORTON (USA), traveller on Luna Rossa Challenge, said the team was focussing on taking a more conservative approach to racing, 'We wanted to keep it close, make sure we were winning and not take any chances. I think our tactics are good as we want to take the risk out of things a little. You won't maybe see us win by a kilometre, but hopefully we will win more races that way and not lose any. Today the boats were pretty even in speed with the flat water.'

China Team and Victory Challenge's match was one sided as the Chinese suffered problems with their mainsail which they were unable hoist. They received two penalties in the pre-start for failing to start properly and it was only half way up the beat that they were able finally to raise their mainsail. They completed the course, but it was two easy points for the Swedes.

Elsewhere in the flight Desafío Español out-paced Areva Challenge up the first beat to make the first rounding 43 seconds ahead and despite a last minute attack from the French team, managed to win by 30 seconds. Similarly Emirates Team New Zealand made its win against +39 Challenge look relatively easy, taking the win by 45 seconds, with Formula One legend Michael SCHUMACHER (GER) in the 18th man position at the back of the boat.

Flight 4

In its match with Areva Challenge, Emirates Team New Zealand led by a small margin around the entire course, eventually winning by 59 seconds. In a similar style match, Team Shosholoza was unable to repeat its Round Robin One win over Luna Rossa, the Italian team winning by 25 seconds, while United Internet Team Germany had a comfortable win over China Team.

After its close Flight 3 race with Team Shosholoza, BMW ORACLE Racing also trailed around the race course for much of its match against Victory Challenge. Despite a tacking battle up the first beat, the Swedish team managed to lead at the top mark by 13 seconds. They stayed ahead for the next two legs showing good pace and defensive play against the powerful American team. On the approach to the weather mark for the second time, once again with BMW ORACLE Racing came in along the port tack layline with Victory Challenge roaring in from starboard. This time DICKSON successfully managed to get the hook on the Swedes, sailing them off the course before luffing hard. After peeling back, the two boats sailed the nerve-racking final run neck and neck. In the end it was BMW ORACLE Racing which prevailed, winning by just 14 seconds in the second lucky escape of the day for DICKSON and his men.

'The boat and the crew were the real winners today,' said BMW ORACLE Racing navigator, Peter ISLER (USA). 'Our boat is really strong in those dogfight conditions. Once another boat is ahead, it is always hard to get past. But if you have a fast boat, once you manage to get past, you are away.'

Having suffered five consecutive losses, Mascalzone Latino - Capitalia Team entered its one race today with a new helmsman - New Zealander Cameron DUNN, taking the wheel from Flavio FLAVINI (ITA). The replacement took the wheel after starting helmsman Jes GRAM-HANSEN (DEN) managed to push Desafío Español 2007 to the wrong side of the Race Committee boat causing the Spanish to start 11 seconds late. The situation remained the same with the Mascalzone Latino holding the advantage, despite a lengthy tacking duel up the beat. The Spanish team closed on the run to round on Mascalzone's transom, but the Italians managed to keep their nose ahead around the second lap to finish 35 seconds in front putting a stop to their string of losses.

Explaining the change behind the wheel, Mascalzone skipper Vasco VASCOTTO (ITA) said, 'We needed some energy and an extra push, and if we had lost today it might well have been me to step down next! Flavio came this morning - he was the person who put the mast for us after painting, and the first to hug us after the victory with Desafio. Our team has a big heart, a good boat and can win all the races no matter who is on board.'

Louis Vuitton Cup - Wednesday's matches

Flight 3

1. Desafío Español 2007 beat Areva Challenge. 0:30
2. Emirates Team New Zealand beat +39 Challenge. 0:45
4. Luna Rossa Challenge beat United Internet Team Germany. 1:02
5. Victory Challenge beat China Team. 11:49
6. BMW ORACLE Racing beat Team Shosholoza. 0:43.

Bye - Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team

Flight 4

1. Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia Team beat Desafío Español 2007. 0:35
2. Emirates Team New Zealand beat Areva Challenge. 0:59
4. United Internet Team Germany beat China Team. 2:16
5. Luna Rossa Challenge beat Team Shosholoza. 0:25
6. BMW ORACLE Racing beat Victory Challenge. 0:14

Bye - +39 Challenge

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 4 3 27
1 Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA 94) 19 4 4 27
3 Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL 92) 18 3 3 24
4 Desafío Español 2007 (ESP 97) 17 3 2 21
5 Victory Challenge (SWE 96) 14 4 2 18
6 Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia (ITA 99) 14 3 1 16
7 Team Shosholoza (RSA 83) 12 4 1 14
8 Areva Challenge (FRA 93) 9 4 2 13
9 +39 Challenge (ITA 85) 6 3 0 6
10 United Internet Team Germany (GER 89) 3 4 1 5
11 China Team (CHN 95) 1 4 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, Luna Rossa eased to another two wins in Valencia:© ACM 2007/Photo:Carlo Borlenghi
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