Today's win was the eighth in a row by USA-76 over USA-67 since the Louis Vuitton Cup regatta began in October, leaving Oracle BMW the task of winning just one more race to progress to the finals.
Today's race began with some close action in the pre-start in which OneWorld came off worse by the time the starting gun was fired. Not only did the Seattle team carry a penalty, but they were over the line at the start.
Despite these two set backs which saw them trailing Oracle BMW from the start, OneWorld went on to sail a skilful first leg and managed to haul back much of Oracle's initial lead. By the first leeward mark the lead had been reduced to just 8 seconds. This turned out to be the closest that the pair got for the remainder of the race.
Oracle BMW Racing USA-76 went on to beat OneWorld USA-67, leaving Oracle at match point, with OneWorld staring elimination squarely in the face. Five straight wins are required to stay in the competition.
"It was very shifty out there,"
said Oracle's navigator Ian Burns shortly after crossing the line. "Either side of the course paid but if you got caught in the middle you could lose, so it was a very difficult day today."
LOUIS VUITTON CUP SEMI FINAL REPECHAGE
USA-76 BEAT ONEWORLD (USA-67) - DELTA 00:55
Oracle BMW Racing leads OneWorld in the best of seven Repechage 3 to (-1)"
"Following the America's Cup Arbitration Panel decision of 9th December 2002, OneWorld Challenge has had one point deducted from its score.
This race was decided in the prestart, with USA-76, skippered by Chris Dickson, gaining a comprehensive advantage over OneWorld in the crucial five minutes before the starting gun. USA-76 came in from the port entry and dialed up head to wind. OneWorld came in from starboard and dialed up very close to USA-76. With both yachts head to wind and slowly reversing back from the line, OneWorld found itself trapped in the windward position, too close to their opponents to tack away or move forward. Eventually, the inevitable happened and OneWorld incurred a penalty for failing to keep clear from the windward position.
OneWorld did a nice job of recovering control of the start in the final seconds before the gun, heading for the line well ahead of USA-76. But, the OneWorld crew misjudged their timing and compounded their problems by crossing the line a split second ahead of the gun. Forced to return for a restart and carrying a penalty, OneWorld, skippered by Peter Gilmour, faced an uphill battle to overcome USA-76.
Although OneWorld made a valiant effort to keep the battle close, they were never able to overcome the burden of their pre-start mistakes. OneWorld threw everything at USA-76 in the final run, including a duel of 17 gybes, but ultimately trailed across the finish line by 12 seconds. Once the pin end was rounded and the penalty had been unloaded, 55 seconds was the final delta.