Facing elimination today, the Seattle Yacht Club's OneWorld Challenge couldn't hold on to a 200-metre lead halfway through the race, and fell to Oracle BMW Racing who won the race to sweep the series.
The Oracle BMW Racing team were tenacious when they trailed and were relentless when they led, maintaining textbook tactics to take their fourth win of the Louis Vuitton Cup Semi Final Repechage.
After losing eight consecutive races to USA-76, it had looked as though this would be OneWorld's day. Helmsman James Spithill didn't hesitate at all on the start, hitting the line right at the gun just one day after being called back for starting prematurely.
OneWorld skipper Peter Gilmour followed up that good start by consolidating a nice lead off the first big shift and his OneWorld crew led around the top mark for the first time in this series.
But Dickson's team never surrendered on a very shifty, puffy day on the Hauraki Gulf.
Trailing by nearly one minute at the start of the second run, Oracle BMW Racing split off to the right side of the course, and found increased pressure that never reached OneWorld. Dickson's squad made the pass on that leg, and covered OneWorld the rest of the way for a fantastic win.
With the loss, OneWorld is eliminated from the Louis Vuitton Cup. Oracle BMW Racing, representing San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club now advance to the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals, where they will meet the Alinghi Challenge, from the Switzerland's Société Nautique de Genève.
On January 6th the teams will declare what boat they use for the Finals. January 7th is unveiling day and Race One of the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals is scheduled for January 11th.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP SEMI FINAL REPECHAGE
USA-76 BEAT ONEWORLD (USA-67) - DELTA 01:04
Oracle BMW Racing wins the best of seven Repechage 4 to 0"
"Following the America's Cup Arbitration Panel decision of 9th December 2002, OneWorld Challenge would have had its first point deducted.
An extraordinary race saw OneWorld lead around the first three marks, only to see USA-76 sail around them on the second downwind leg and shoot into the lead.
In a split tack start, OneWorld hit the line at the pin end exactly on the gun on starboard tack, with USA-76 crossing slightly behind at the committee boat end. The left side immediately paid off and OneWorld moved into a comfortable lead, rounding the first windward mark 59 seconds ahead of USA-76.
OneWorld have shown a tendency in the past to allow their opponents to split off and go it alone. Coming into this race however, it was a matter of do-or-die for the Seattle-based OneWorld team. Oracle BMW Racing were on match point and the expectation was that if OneWorld gained the lead they would protect it tenaciously.
Instead, the OneWorld team rounded the second windward mark with a lead of seven boatlengths, swung into a gybe set and headed to where the breeze looked most promising on the left side of the track. USA-76 opted for a bearaway set and headed off on its own, hooked into better pressure and powered down the run and into the lead. By the time the yachts rounded the mark, OneWorld's seven-boatlength lead had been reversed and USA-76 was ahead by seven boatlengths.
From then on, the USA-76 crew were merciless, covering tightly all the way round the track and leading across the finish line by 1 minute 04 seconds.