The Hauraki Gulf served up a second consecutive day of ideal racing conditions on Saturday, Race Day Three of the Louis Vuitton Cup, with strong 16-22 knot Southerlies whipping up the seas.
Sweden's Victory Challenge was forced to wait for three days before getting its first taste of action yesterday, but has quickly established itself as a force, today handing Team Dennis Conner its first loss.
The OneWorld Challenge from Seattle continued its early run, becoming the only team to post three wins in the first three days of racing by beating the GBR Challenge who lost their second race of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Wight Lightning also became the first boat to pick up a penalty when it collided with OneWorld shortly before the start.
The Swiss Alinghi team bounced back from a loss yesterday, winning by a large margin after Mascalzone Latino had trouble on the starting line.
Struggling for the second day in a row with spinnaker problems is Le Défi AREVA. Today the Défi fell to Louis Vuitton Cup defender Prada Challenge, who earned its first point of the competition.
Oneworld (Usa-67) Beat Wight Lightning (Gbr-70) - Delta 03:22
In the closing stages of the pre-start battle, the British GBR Challenge starting helmsman Andy Green set up astern of the OneWorld Challenge yacht, helmed by 23-year-old James Spithill. Pushing hard from astern, the British drove into a leeward overlap and luffed hard. Both yachts went virtually head to wind, the British yacht stalled, while OneWorld was able to maintain some speed. Spithill luffed, breaking the overlap. The bow of the British yacht, now without luffing rights, then collided with the transom of OneWorld Challenge. The umpires ruled against the British team. After that, the British never recovered. OneWorld Challenge led off the startline and extended their lead on every leg. The delta at the first windward mark was 54 seconds and, by the time the British completed their 270 degree penalty turn at the finish line, they were 3 minutes and 22 seconds behind. OneWorld Challenge thus took their record to three wins from three starts.
Orn (Swe-63) Beat Stars & Stripes (Usa-66) - Delta 00:33
The match between Sweden's Victory Challenge and Team Dennis Conner of the New York Yacht Club was highly anticipated because everyone wanted to see the relative speed of Victory's Örn (SWE-63) against Stars & Stripes (USA-66), which had won its first two races with Ken Read at the helm. Conner fancied the black Swedish boat before the regatta and, it turns out, with good reason. Örn handily defeated the ultra-narrow Stars & Stripes by 33 seconds. This match was decided on the first beat. Örn came off the start line to windward of Stars & Stripes and then rode the American yacht to the port layline. Each boat tacked just once on the beat and Jesper Bank, steering Örn, led by 19 seconds at the windward mark. Showing good speed and perhaps sailing deeper angles, the Swedes then doubled their lead on the first run to 38 seconds. Örn lost 30 seconds on the final run, but controlled this match throughout.
Alinghi (Sui-64) Beat Mascalzone Latino (Ita-72) - Delta 07:08
""" This result is pending a possible protest by the Race Committee against Alinghi for failing to switch on its on-board microphones as required under the rules. The protest will be heard on Saturday evening.
A series of classic dial ups marked the start of the match between Mascalzone Latino, with helmsman Paolo Cian and the Russell Coutts skippered Alinghi. With the Swiss boat suffering a defeat on the previous day and Mascalzone Latino yet to score a point in this first Round Robin, both boats were keen to ensure a score on the board. But while the preamble to the start may have looked fairly evenly matched, Alinghi took the upper hand in a simple but devastating manoeuvre on Mascalzone Latino just seconds before the start, driving over the top of the Italian boat and leaving them dead in the water. Seconds afterwards Mascalzone Latino appeared to have a problem on board leaving them stuck on the line as Alinghi stormed away. The Italians finally crossed the line nearly two minutes after Alinghi but the damage had been done and the distance between the two boats increased on every leg. Adding to their problems, Mascalzone Latino also blew out a spinnaker just seconds after hoisting it on the last downwind leg. Alinghi went on to win the race and crossed the line well ahead of Mascalzone Latino.
Luna Rossa (Ita-74) Wins, Le Défi (Fra-69) Did Not Finish
Le Défi, skippered by Luc Pillot, made a marginally better start at the pin end of the line and held the lead for the first three minutes. Thereafter Prada, sailed by Francesco de Angelis, slowly pulled ahead with slightly superior boat speed. Prada soon ground down the French boat's lead, seemingly able to point fractionally higher and make a small gain in velocity made good to windward. The Italians slowly extended their lead throughout the race, leading by eight-seconds at the first windward mark and extending to 1:05 by the second windward mark. Le Défi lost their spinnaker overboard at the second drop and unfortunately it got dragged onto the leeward mark whilst still attached to the boat for which Le Défi was awarded a penalty by the Umpires. The spinnaker problem delayed the French boat further and allowed Prada to finish the race without a close challenge from the Le Défi. On the finishing line, Le Défi failed to finish correctly after having carried out their penalty and ended up scored as 'Did Not Finish (DNF)'. Had the French boat finished correctly the delta time would have been in the region of four minutes.