Valencia, Spain. BMW ORACLE Racing maintained its position at the top of the Louis Vuitton Cup leaderboard after winning two tough matches in Valencia today.
In both races, the first against the South African Shosholoza team and the second against Victory Challenge, the USA 98 crew came from behind to add four valuable points to their score. The wins leave BMW ORACLE Racing with 25 points, equal with Luna Rossa Challenge.
“The boat and the crew were the real winners today,“ said BMW ORACLE Racing navigator, Peter Isler. “Our boat is really strong in those dogfight conditions. Once another boat is ahead, it is always hard to get past. But if you have a fast boat, once you manage to get past, you are away.“
Race One summary: Shosholoza held the advantage and maintained it up the first windward leg and down the run to lead BMW ORACLE Racing by 7 seconds and 9 seconds at the respective marks. On the second windward leg, the two yachts split tacks, with USA 98 going out to the left and the South African team heading right. After a long separation, USA 98 gained the lead. At the final mark rounding, USA 98 led by 24 seconds and then extended down the run to finish with a 43 second margin.
Race Two summary: After 14 tacks up the first windward leg, USA 98 kept the action tight all the way against a 10° shift to the right which advantaged the Swedish team. USA 98 rounded the first mark 13 seconds behind at the first mark and 17 seconds behind at the second mark. Back up the windward leg the grinders and crew on USA 98 completed 17 tacks, gaining all the time. Once again, the approach to the mark was tight, with USA 98 on port tack ducking the transom of the Swedish yacht coming in on starboard. As the yachts crossed, skipper Chris Dickson spun up inside the Victory Challenge yacht and rounded the mark ahead by just 1 second and then luffed the Swedes, forcing them to tack away. Towards the end of the final leg, the afterguard on USA 98 had done a great job of positioning the boat in pressure and BMW ORACLE Racing took the match by 14 seconds.
Quotes from Peter Isler, BMW ORACLE Racing navigator:
“In the match against Shosholoza, we were able to gain big leverage out to the left on the second windward leg. Gavin Brady (tactician) and Eric Doyle (strategist) held their nerve out to the left and the wind went our way.
“The second match against Sweden was very close. Over the past three or four years our crew has done so much work with our in-house racing, so we have been in those close situations many times. The experience of pushing and pushing and keeping the pressure on all the way came good. The move we made at the second windward mark rounding is something we have practised many times before. If you play it right, you can make gains. If you get it wrong, it is game over.
“The final run to the finish was close all the way. Eric Doyle was up the rig calling the pressure. But it was a tricky day. The wind kept clocking around, so when Sweden was way across the course from us, they were getting the benefit of the shifts, but we were sailing in more pressure.“
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