Valencia, Spain. The Louis Vuitton Cup semi-final mountain got steeper today as BMW ORACLE Racing went 3-1 down against Luna Rossa Challenge, but the USA team remained confident about fighting back. The two yachts engaged in a spirited battle all the way around the course, with very little difference evident in boatspeed. Racing in a steady 10-12 knot seabreeze, the course presented few passing opportunities and, despite strong tacking and gybing attacks upwind and downwind, USA 98 was unable to break through. “We never feel good about losing and being 3-1 down is not where we wanted to be at this stage,” said BMW ORACLE Racing navigator, Peter Isler. “But, there is still a long way to go and the strategy remains to go out and win one race at a time. We have confidence in the crew and the boat and we are determined to go out there and turn it around.”
Race summary: The afterguards of both teams in the Louis Vuitton Cup semi-final engaged in a battle of nerves out on the race course as they separated right across the course by 2.7km. The split took place on the second windward leg after Luna Rossa Challenge led around the first two marks by 13 seconds and 12 seconds respectively. In a steady breeze and with very similar boatspeed, the two yachts reconverged after the split with no significant change in their relative positions. At the start, skipper Chris Dickson and the BMW ORACLE Racing crew fought for and won the right hand side. It was close round the first windward mark and even closer round the leeward mark as the yachts split through the gate and then marched away from each other in that massive split. When they rounded the final mark, Luna Rossa Challenge had a 28 second lead. USA 98 mixed it up again downwind, throwing gybe after gybe to keep the pressure on the Italian team. BMW ORACLE Racing gained all the way, but was unable to find a passing opportunity and trailed by 23 seconds at the finish.
Quotes from BMW ORACLE Racing navigator, Peter Isler: “We wanted the right hand side at the start and everybody did a nice job of getting it. After a drag race on starboard, we both tacked over and Luna Rossa Challenge was marginally ahead. On the long port tack, we expected a right hand shift, but the wind was remarkably steady. It was as if the two boats were tied together and that half boatlength advantage remained for Luna Rossa.
“The big split in the second windward leg was like a battle of nerves. As we split through the leeward gate, the Italians made an effective gain of a couple of boatlengths by sailing a shorter distance. We were looking for something to go our way on the left, but the shift did not come. When we came back together, the gap was about the same. We threw a lot of tacks and gybes at them and our guys did great work. But, without any mistakes on the Italian boat and no big windshifts, we could not erase their lead.”
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