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20 May 2007, 06:25 pm
Luna Rossa Through To Final; Spanish Win Second Race
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Louis Vuitton Cup 2007
Valencia, Spain

BMW ORACLE Racing and Desafío Español faced 'must win' races on Sunday at the Louis Vuitton Cup. The Spanish won and live to race another day. The Americans lost and have been eliminated from the Louis Vuitton Cup.

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The American team took to the water with a new skipper in Gavin BRADY (NZL) and new helmsman in Sten MOHR (DEN) as previous skipper/helmsman Chris DICKSON (NZL) stepped off the boat. But it did not change the result - Luna Rossa Challenge led around the race track again, sealing the series win.

The Spanish, in contrast, made no crew changes, apart from regular crew rotations. Helmsman Karol JABLONSKI (POL) started the boat to the right of the NZL 92 and eked forward by just a few metres with a tiny right shift. They managed to lead into the top mark by just 12 seconds and protected that tiny margin the rest of the way around the track.

Racing started in a building 10 knot northeasterly breeze. By the top mark, the wind had increased, topping out near 15 knots. An enormous spectator fleet, numbering in the hundreds took in the action, supporting the home side, Desafío Español, who earned a terrific victory.

Racing will resume at the Louis Vuitton Cup on Tuesday, with Emirates Team New Zealand against Desafío Español 2007.

Match 1 - Desafío Español 2007 beat Emirates Team New Zealand - DELTA 0:15

It was an unconventional start to the match between Desafío Español 2007 and Emirates Team New Zealand, with both boats crossing the line on port tack. Soon after, the Kiwis rolled away onto starboard tack and a large split built between the two teams chasing better breeze on their sides of the course.

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Desafio Español's fans had plenty to
celebrate on Sunday
© ACM 2007/Photo: Carlos Lujan
When they came back together up the course, the Spanish held a small lead to the right, and it was close all the way to the windward mark. JABLONSKI steered ESP 97 to a 12 second lead around the windward mark, with both teams making great spinnaker hoists.

At the first gybe Spain made the better manoeuvre and extended a little, but the last gybe to the leeward gate was terrible on the Spanish boat and the New Zealand team closed the gap again, 13 seconds behind as they rolled into an immediate tack out of the right-hand gate mark. Spain tacked to cover and played a tight game up the final beat.

However New Zealand stayed close to Spain and rounded the final mark just 8 seconds behind. The first gybe would be crucial, a great opportunity for New Zealand to pounce on any error from the Spanish. But it was New Zealand who executed less than perfectly while Desafío Español nailed a beautiful manoeuvre to extend away for a jubilant 15-second victory over the Kiwis.

Speaking about the weather calls made on Sunday, JABLONSKI said, 'It was more about match racing than picking the shifts, because we were close and knew we had to protect the right hand side. We were able to survive.

'It is not possible to make the right calls every day. This is a game of mistakes. Sometimes you are fine and sometimes you are wrong. You have to deal with the mistakes that others might make, but it is a part of team work, and when you manage to survive your mistakes you get stronger. I think Desafio has glued and got stronger. All the results have come from close races. We have survived the good and bad days and that is the sport. We have showed we have a great team, with a great atmosphere and are doing a good job.'

Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman Dean BARKER (NZL) said, 'We would obviously like to be in a similar position to Luna Rossa right now, but we knew Desafio would be a very tough team and has certainly proved it to be the case. You certainly can't afford to drop your guard - if you get any decisions slightly wrong, or get the better-off start or whatever. If you give them a sniff of the lead, they are a very hard team to pass. Try as we might today, and the guys did a very good job of keeping it close and present some opportunities, the final overtaking manoeuvre just wasn't there for us.'

Match 2 - Luna Rossa Challenge beat BMW ORACLE Racing - DELTA 0:33

Luna Rossa Challenge wins the Semi Final 5-1 and advances to Louis Vuitton Cup Final

Luna Rossa helmsman James SPITHILL (AUS) showed no mercy to MOHR, the replacement helmsman on BMW ORACLE Racing, who looked uneasy against the smooth handling of Luna Rossa.

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Skipper Francesco DE ANGELIS celebrates
Luna Rossa's Semi Final victory
© ACM 2007/Photo:Guido Trombetta

ITA 94 launched off the pin end of the line at speed while USA 98 had to luff past the Race Committee boat for a slow start to the right. Seizing the early advantage, SPITHILL (AUS) tacked over to put a loose cover on the Americans. When a left-hand windshift came in, it further favoured the Italian boat which crossed the Americans to claim the right side of the course.

At the first windward mark the Italian advantage was 32 seconds, and there was little difference in the deltas for the rest of the race, with Luna Rossa crossing the finish line 33 seconds ahead of BMW ORACLE Racing. The Italians had led the Americans around every mark of every race in their 5-1 domination of the Semi Final series.

'It certainly wasn't the outcome we planned for or expected,' said BMW ORACLE Racing owner, Larry ELLISON (USA). 'Luna Rossa raised their game and deserve a lot of credit. I am very proud that our team went out and fought right down to the last gybe. We never gave up.'

Speaking about the late crew change, DICKSON said, 'When I look back we don't have any glaring weaknesses, or we would have done something about it. We were clearly out classed in a number of areas this week. We've done everything we could do. I thank my team sincerely as they have worked incredibly hard and they are all very disappointed. It was Larry's decision to take me off, and I accept that and thank Sten for stepping in. Nobody did a bad a job in our team. They simply did it better. I don't think Luna Rossa need a lot of advice for the finals and they certainly don't need it from me right now!'

Luna Rossa skipper Francesco DE ANGELIS (ITA) said the contested had been much closer than the 5-1 score looks, 'I think the racing was much harder than the score reflects. We have been taking it step by step, working on improving the boat and ourselves. The game itself is complicated and each team follows its own path and is full of smart, talented people. You have to be clear what steps to take at your own speed and people.'

SPITHILL added, 'You never relax, you only have to look at the second race in the series. A team like BMW ORACLE are so strong that if you make one little mistake they jump on you and make you pay for it. We saw that and importantly have learnt our lesson. Today we certainly weren't going to make that mistake again. No matter big or small the lead was, we kept the focus and finished the job off.'

Louis Vuitton Cup - Sunday'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 0 1 1 0 4
Desafío Español 2007 0 0 1 0 0 1 2
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Total
BMW ORACLE Racing 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Luna Rossa Challenge 1 0 1 1 1 1 5

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 is through to the Louis Vuitton Cup Final:© ACM 2007/Photo:Guido Trombetta
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