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Americas Cup Full Report - Perfect Race Conditions

Americas Cup - Challenger Series Round Robin two - Race Seven - Full Match Summaries:

Excellent racing conditions returned to Auckland on Monday. After a short postponement on both courses, races were sailed in North-East winds building from 5 to 12 knots under warm sunshine. This was the first example of the classic sea breeze scenario that we can expect to dominate during the summer months on the Hauraki Gulf, with the wind gradually shifting to the left as the afternoon wore on.

On the racecourse, Prada’s Luna Rossa scored a big win over AmericaOne to stay atop the points table. Peter Gilmour on Asura rebounded from a poor start to earn a win over Le Défi, and America True stopped the winning streak for Team Dennis Conner. Young Australia suffered a hard loss to Bravo España while Abracadabra continued to struggle, losing to Young America.

James Spithill on Young Australia (AUS-31) controlled the final stages of the pre-start taking Luis Doreste in Bravo España (ESP-47) across the start line early at the committee boat end. But when the gun went, Spithill who was also over early, dipped back a little too far allowing the Spanish to regain half of their deficit. Young Australia, on the left side of the course, sailed out on starboard tack whilst the Spanish split tacks straight away to get clear. The Australians tacked to cover and the pair sailed parallel for half of the first beat with the Australians showing equal speed. Spithill demonstrated great confidence when the Spanish initiated a tacking duel at the end of the first beat. The Australians managed to stay in phase with the shifting sea breeze and rounded the first mark with a lead of ten seconds. On the next two legs Young Australia gained a bit - both boats showed equal speed but the better tactical situation went to Spithill. That was soon to end. On the second downwind leg he allowed the Spanish to gybe away and gain some useful separation. When the next shift came, the advantage was to the Spanish allowing them to dictate the approach to the starboard gybe layline. Spithill gybed too early, maybe hoping to get the inside advantage on the rounding, but his boat was a length too far back to gain the overlap and his crew weren’t ready either. The Australians sailed past the leeward mark with the spinnaker still set and no genoa in sight. By the time they had it all cleaned up the Spanish had a lead of over a minute and were never threatened the rest of the way home.

America True (USA-51) steered by John Cutler seized control of the left at the start, after one dial up and a long chase from above the line and around the bow of the committee boat. Cutler started at the pin end but the start went to Ken Read, steering Stars & Stripes (USA-55). The first leg could have gone either way but Cutler’s control of the left let him carry Read beyond the starboard tack layline. Read stayed relatively close but never really threatened, ending a good winning streak for Team Dennis Conner.

Nippon Challenge (JPN-44) came back on the third leg after a premature start to pass Le Défi (FRA-46), winning for the third time in Round Robin Two. Two match racing masters met today and gave an amazing demonstration of pre-start manoeuvres using all of the start box area. Pacé eventually gained the upper hand and forced Gilmour over the line early at the committee boat end. By the time the Japanese had restarted correctly they trailed by more than 30 seconds. When the wind was shifty the French were able to stay in phase, but as soon as the wind stayed steady for a few minutes in the middle of the leg the Japanese boat showed its superior speed and made up most of the early deficit. Early on the second beat Pacé gave up the left hand side of the course and Gilmour began to enjoy the kind of freedom that a slight speed edge and the sea breeze shifts to the left gave him. Asura passed Le Défi three quarters of the way up the second beat and extended its lead from there. Although the final delta was less than a minute when the start line deficit is added in, the win looks more impressive.

Ed Baird with Young America (USA-58) was on top of his game during the pre-start. He forced John Kolius on Abracadabra (USA-54) to the left and to windward of the start line. After that Baird prevented Kolius from getting back to the line. Young America bore off and timed it well. Baird gybed and dipped the line to continue on starboard tack. Kolius tried to follow closely but wasn’t on top of maintaining his speed and Abracadabra stalled – the Hawaiians eventually crossed 28 seconds later. Their lead extended to two minutes and 15 seconds at the top mark and on the first run Young America shifted gears again and extended its advantage. The rest of the race saw Young America sail on undisturbed.

Francesco de Angelis and Luna Rossa (ITA-45) continue to dominate the Louis Vuitton Cup. Today, the Italians beat Paul Cayard and AmericaOne (USA-49) to remain atop the points table. This was a good race with both boats hitting the start line as the gun fired, the Italians with better speed and both boats right at the pin end. As Luna Rossa accelerated to a lee bow position, Cayard was forced to tack off. After a short separation both tacked and de Angelis crossed three boat lengths ahead. Italy held a 44-second lead at the top mark, gave away a little time downwind, but was never again threatened in the race. The Italian skipper de Angelis was bold on the final legs, not always covering the Americans, but it didn’t hurt him as Luna Rossa held its lead and won handily.

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