Sweden's Victory Challenge and Team Dennis Conner (USA) have advanced to the Quarter Final Repechage Round of Louis Vuitton Cup 2003.
The two teams advanced to the next round of competition after winning their Flight 5 matches today. Victory defeated France's le Défi AREVA and Team Dennis Conner downed GBR Challenge, each by a score of 4-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Light winds early this afternoon forced a 55-minute postponement of the first warning gun and then a procedural error by the race committee delayed it another 20 minutes. But when racing started the breeze was blowing 15 knots and it ranged up to 20 knots by the end of the day.
There were big windshifts to contend with in each race. The wind shifted 20 degrees to the right, necessitating course changes on the first run and second beat.
Victory and Team Dennis Conner handled the oscillations with aplomb. Each team held the upper hand in the first cross and led around the first windward mark.
As the breeze built, some of the teams experienced gear troubles. Team Dennis Conner broke a genoa sheet on the second beat. GBR Challenge had troubles setting the spinnaker at the second windward mark. Le Défi had spinnaker halyard and top-mast backstay troubles at the second windward mark and blew out a spinnaker on the last run.
Victory and Team Dennis Conner both advance to the Quarterfinals Repechage Round along with OneWorld Challenge of the U.S. and Italy's Prada Challenge. The pairings will be determined tomorrow when OneWorld, as the highest seeded boat of the four repechage competitors, chooses its opponent.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP QUARTERFINALS, RACE DAY FIVE
ORM (SWE-73) BEAT LE DÉFI (FRA-69) - DELTA 02:34
ORM WINS THE BEST-OF-SEVEN SERIES, 4-1
It proved a sad goodbye for the French team in a race that slipped inexorably away once the Swedes took the lead on the first beat. Orm sailed an efficient and well-disciplined race to win by a handsome margin. In the pre-start le Défi gained early control as the boats headed to the right into the spectator fleet. Jesper Bank, at the helm of Orm, managed to escape with an aggressive gybe around the Victory Challenge's own flagship, the famous motor launch Black Knight. Nevertheless, the French hit the line at speed and slightly ahead of the Swedes, who were to leeward. On the beat the French initially gained on the right-hand side, but their lead soon evaporated as the Victory Challenge boat got into its stride and benefited from the left shift and crossed clear ahead of le Défi at the second cross. Bank then extended Orm's lead to round the first windward mark by 33 seconds. Downwind, Orm stretched her legs to build up an unassailable lead and le Défi struggled to fight back, hindered by spinnaker halyard problems. They also had to sail the second run with out the spinnaker pole topping lift.
STARS & STRIPES (USA-77) BEAT WIGHT LIGHTNING (GBR-70) - DELTA 01:42
STARS & STRIPES WINS THE BEST-OF-SEVEN SERIES, 4-1
Team Dennis Conner helmsman Ken Read, showing new life in the pre-start, again took the action to GBR Challenge counterpart Ian Walker. GBR's Wight Lightning seemed to have problems manoeuvring in the pre-start, as evidenced by the frightened look in Walker's face. The boat often stalled in the pre-start the last two races, and this gave Read added incentive to attack. Although Read failed to gain a penalty on Walker and the Brits, he did get a better start at the committee boat end on port tack and a length ahead of Wight Lightning. Stars & Stripes wanted the right side of the beat and it paid off early. The American crew kept tacking on the British. After the first three meetings about 10 minutes into the match and halfway up the beat, they led by five boatlengths. The Americans led by 42 seconds at the windward mark but the British, flying a full-size symmetric spinnaker on the run to the Americans' asymmetric, attacked and closed to 22 seconds beginning the second beat. But the Americans kept protecting the right and sailed away to a comfortable series win.