The sight of five 12-Metres sailing up Narragansett Bay would be impressive any day of the week. On Friday, however, the 12s seemingly ushered in the breeze that had kept competitors waiting under a postponement flag for the concluding matches.
For the first time since 1976, it would come down to the final match in this best four-out-of-seven finals before the champagne was uncorked to spray the winners and award the trophy for the 23 time since the event was created in 1961.
The final day's action was again set off Goat Island providing a perfect view of the competition. In the first race, the Challengers (the Italian team of Daniele SARAGONI and crew Teo Di BATTISTA, representing Club Nautico Rimini) appeared to have control of the start as they took a slight lead off the line on the windward-leeward course. The Defender (John LOVELL of New Orleans, La., and crew Charlie OGLETREE of Houston, Texas, representing Southern Yacht Club) caught up by the first mark just as a 140' motor yacht cruised onto the course requiring both cats to maneuver around the slow-moving vessel. By the end of two very tight laps around the course, the Italians were first to the finish line by 15 seconds over Lovell and Ogletree to tie the score at 3-3.
In race two, which would be sailed three times around the course, Lovell and Ogletree crossed the start line first and never looked back as they opened up a sizable lead on the Italians. Undaunted, Saragoni and Di Battista whittled down the distance and by the last leg had closed the minute and twenty gap to five seconds for a nail-biting finish close behind Lovell and Ogletree.
"I'm very excited by this win,"
said Lovell after he had warmed up. "Saragoni definitely had an edge with the boat, as this is only my third time in an F-18HT, which is much narrower than a Tornado, making it harder to gybe downwind and less stable in general."
Comparing the differences between the F-18HTs used for the Trophy, and the Tornado that the two-time Olympians spend most of their time racing, Lovell also noted the difference in their teamwork required by match racing in catamarans. "The crew does most of the work, I mostly steer while Charlie drags me around the course. I learned a lot from this event".
Complete scores and background on the International Catamaran Challenge Trophy can be found the event website at the address below.