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6 October 2002, 10:28 am
Louis Vuitton Cup - Round Robin 1 Day Four
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Mascalzone Latino©Franck Sacha/Louis Vuitton

America'sCup
Hauraki Gulf, Aucklane

Racing was delayed for nearly four hours with light, shifty conditions plaguing the sailors on the Hauraki Gulf.
Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio and his crew waited for predicted strong southerlies to reach the race area, and their patience was rewarded just minutes before the 16:00 time limit for starting racing.

Displaying some pent up energy, the first match pre-start featured plenty of action with both Mascalzone Latino and the Victory Challenge's Örn engaging in some close-quarter jousting. A similar engagement between Oracle BMW Racing and Stars & Stripes saw an early advantage translate into a convincing win.

The strangest start featured the GBR Challenge, who incurred a penalty for not entering the start box within the two-minute time limit. In fact, the British team nearly didn't make it to the starting line before the start gun fired, but they recovered to sail a very close race against the French Le Défi.

The easiest win of the day went to the Alinghi Challenge, who handed Prada's Luna Rossa its third loss of the Louis Vuitton Cup.

ÖRN (SWE-63) BEAT MASCALZONE LATINO (ITA-72) - DELTA 00:35

Italian helmsman Paolo Cian on Masclazone Latino (ITA-72) was very aggressive in the pre-start, and led Swedish skipper Jesper Bank on a long reach out to leeward below the Race Committee boat. As the boats rounded up on port tack, they luffed just outside the starboard tack layline, and Cian, protecting the right, forced Bank on Örn (SWE-63) to tack. The Swedish boat led back to the start, with the Italians in a strong position looking for a hook to leeward. But Bank was able to climb to windward and gained enough separation to tack away. When the boats converged again, he had starboard-tack advantage and Cian was forced into a quick tack in a safe leeward position. Both boats crossed the line early and had to restart, with the Italians dipping back across the line first. The Swedish boat, however, showed good speed on the first beat, and led at the top mark by 21-seconds. Mascalzone Latino showed its best form of the regatta to date, but couldn't get past the Swedes who earned their third win.

ALINGHI (SUI-64) BEAT LUNA ROSSA (ITA-74) - DELTA 01:32

The right hand side of the start was clearly favoured and Russell Coutts, skipper on Alinghi (SUI-64), was able to capture the advantage with very little resistance from the Italian team, which seemed reluctant to engage in the pre-start duel. However, the two yachts came off the line together and, in the early stages of the first beat, Luna Rossa (ITA-74), skippered by Francesco de Angelis, showed excellent speed. From the leeward position, Luna Rossa was able to edge out ahead of the Swiss yacht. After a long drag race on starboard tack, Alinghi was forced to tack away first. Prada maintained its advantage until the Swiss appeared to benefit from a right-hand shift and gained the upper hand. From then on, Coutts and his Alinghi team extended their lead, rounding the first windward mark 21 seconds ahead and finishing with a commanding advantage.

WIGHT LIGHTNING (GBR-70) BEAT LE DÉFI (FRA-69) - DELTA 00:13

Wight Lightning (GBR-70) skippered by Ian Walker, was over two minutes late into the start box following a problem changing mainsails. The lower batten was not installed in time and GBR-70 sailed the whole race with this handicap. Le Defi (FRA-69) skippered and steered today by Luc Pillot, came to meet the British boat to try and make matters worse. Andy Green at the helm of Wight Lightning managed to start at the pin end just two seconds behind. The French held off a British advance to the top mark but were held above the starboard tack layline and the complicated rounding saw the French boat penalised twice. For the rest of the race the pair sailed in close quarters with the French struggling to extend sufficiently to fulfil their penalty obligations on the water without losing the lead. The finish line saw Le Defi drop its spinnaker and turn around the pin end at the same time as GBR stole past.

(USA-76) BEAT STARS & STRIPES (USA-66) - DELTA 01:58

Stars & Stripes (USA-66) helmsman Ken Read has started to the left of his competition in each race of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Today, he couldn't convert the position into a controlling one and it may have cost his Stars & Stripes team the race against helmsman Peter Holmberg and his Oracle BMW Racing crew. Stars & Stripes came off the start line less than one boatlength to leeward of Oracle BMW's USA-76. The blue and black sloops, respectively, powered off the line. Then Read tried to luff USA-76's Peter Holmberg, hoping to clear away the long black boat and free up his options. But the move backfired. USA-76 squirted ahead as the two headed up and when they fell off to close-hauled USA-76 was a half-length ahead. Stars & Stripes did gain enough room to tack to port, and a furious tacking duel ensued. But USA-76 gained on each exchange. USA-76 led by 35 seconds at the windward mark and was never threatened. Syndicate head Larry Ellison was seen on the helm during the third beat.


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