After nearly a three-hour delay, waiting for the wind to fill in on the Hauraki Gulf, OneWorld and Prada advanced to match point, taking 3 - 0 leads in the Quarter Final Repechage of the Louis Vuitton Cup.
The wind was nearly non-existent for most of the afternoon on Thursday. But by 3:30, the breeze was beginning to build, and racing started just before the 16:00 deadline in 12 - 15 knot Southerlies.
OneWorld helmsman James Spithill was effective in the pre-start again, and gave his team the early advantage off the start-line, over Stars & Stripes. OneWorld built on that early lead the rest of the way around the race course to earn a strong win.
Prada had a harder time defeating Victory Challenge, who turning in an inspiring, 'never say die' performance. The Swedish team led around the top mark and carried that advantage down the first run. But nearing the bottom of the course, under immense pressure from Prada, the Swedes broke their spinnaker pole in a luffing match, dropped the sail in the water, and picked up a penalty. Although the Swedes pressed hard the rest of the way, they couldn't regain the lead.
Both OneWorld and Prada now have a strangle hold on their series, and can advance to the Semi Final with one more win. Their opponents now have to win four consecutive races to avoid elimination.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP QUARTER FINAL REPECHAGE
ONEWORLD (USA-67) BEAT STARS & STRIPES (USA-77) - DELTA 01:02
OneWorld leads best of seven Repechage 3 - 0.
OneWorld's young helmsman James Spithill again got the measure of Team Dennis Conner's Ken Read in the pre-start and then generally sailed higher angles on the upwind legs to move within one race of advancing to the Louis Vuitton Cup Semi Finals. Read has had troubles in the first two pre-starts against OneWorld this round, but seemed set to have a clean start with good speed today. Then, with about 3 seconds to the start gun, he bore away from the line, apparently thinking he was over early. Television seemed to show him low of the line by a half-length. The move probably didn't decide the race, but it did give Spithill and OneWorld, which tacked to starboard at the boat end after starting, the advantage they needed for the upper hand in the first cross. Spithill then covered Read relentlessly up the first beat, protecting the right side and keeping starboard advantage. With the breeze phasing right, OneWorld led by 19 seconds at the windward mark and extended on every leg from there to the finish.
LUNA ROSSA (ITA-74) BEAT VICTORY CHALLENGE - DELTA 00:51
Luna Rossa leads best of seven Repechage 3 - 0.
With Prada holding a 2-0 advantage, the Swedish crew had to lift its game and there was noticeably more aggression from Orm's helmsman, Jesper Bank, in the prestart. Approaching the start line, Orm set up astern of Prada and then drove up onto its windward side, hitting the line at speed. Both yachts were neck and neck up the first beat, but Orm carried the starboard hand advantage and led around the first mark by 9 seconds, after 19 tacks on the first leg. After a nice dummy gybe to gain some breathing space, it all fell apart for the Swedes in the closing stages of the first downwind leg. Prada managed to roll past the Swedish yacht and then both crews gybed in unison. With the Italians now to leeward, Francesco de Angelis luffed hard. In the space of a couple of minutes, the Swedes lost their lead, broke their spinnaker pole, trawled their spinnaker and picked up a penalty when the dropping sail touched the Italian yacht. Left without a spinnaker pole, the Swedes kept it remarkably close, actually closing to within seven seconds at the second leeward mark, but were unable to threaten the Prada crew, which go to 3-0 in this series.