Louis Vuitton Cup Round Robin Two Ends With Three Great Matches
Round Robin Two of the Louis Vuitton Cup finished with a flourish on Saturday. Three matches, rescheduled from Race Six, were sailed today. The matches were outstanding - all at one point featured good close match racing by teams fighting for precious points.
In particular, the race between Abracadabra and Bravo España was hard-fought right to the finish, with four lead changes around the course.
The weather helped make all the matches exciting as the Hauraki Gulf featured oscillating winds gusting between 14 - 22 knots. The afterguards struggled to figure out the shifts, the rest of the crew battled sail handling challenges - the resulting spectacle was thrilling.
LOUIS VUITTON CUP ROUND ROBIN TWO, RACE 6
AMERICAONE BEAT LE DÉFI - DELTA 00:48
AmericaOne (USA-49) was behind and to windward of Le Défi (FRA-46) at the start. Both boats were on starboard tack. The French had good speed and height after the start and two minutes into the race they forced AmericaOne to tack to port.
The French did a good job reading the constantly shifting wind. The right side of the beat was favoured and Le Défi successfully defended it.
On the skewed run, AmericaOne could not overtake but stayed in touch.
Finally AmericaOne found one small opportunity to pass Bertrand Pacé on the second beat. One rare shift to the left with AmericaOne on the inside and Le Défi's lead ended.
From here on Cayard stayed ahead, and although the race was close, the lead did not change again. Luc Gelusseau, CEO of Le Défi and head of the French Team when they won the Admirals Cup was on board today for the first time as a strategist.
ASURA BEAT YOUNG AUSTRALIA - DELTA 04:12
Gilmour sailing Asura (JPN-44) came in from the buoy end and dominated the pre-start over James Spithill sailing Young Australia 2000 (AUS-31), until the end when Spithill got to the right of the pair and tacked off to the right.
Gilmour followed immediately to windward and a drag race to the right side of the course followed.
Gilmour showed better speed and started to edge ahead managing to win back the favoured right side and benefit from a good shift to stretch his lead, in spite of a flurry of tacks, to 31 seconds at the first mark. Asura gained on every leg to win with a big margin.
ABRACADABRA BEAT BRAVO ESPAÑA -
This was an excellent match race with lead changes, luffing contests and breakdowns on both sides.
The shifty winds challenged Luis Doreste on Bravo España (ESP-47) and Chris Larson helming Abracadabra (USA-54) on the first upwind leg, with Larson picking his way uphill better to lead by 21 seconds at the turn.
But Bravo España showed good speed and tactics downwind getting into a position to luff the Americans.
The extra pressure caused the spinnaker halyard to break on Abracadabra, and Spain looked good to round ahead. But a poor spinnaker drop and Doreste could only watch as Abracadabra rounded inside and passed the Spanish boat as Bravo España's kite trailed in the water.
But Spain fought back, and holding an inside position at the top mark, luffed Abracadabra well beyond the mark before finally falling off to round with the lead. Another exciting slide to the leeward mark, Doreste engaging in another luffing contest and building his lead, rounding ahead by nearly a minute.
After all the excitement, Spain chose a conservative approach to the final weather leg, covering Larson all the way up until, disaster - a broken jib halyard near the top mark, and Abracadabra regained the lead.
Spain worked hard downwind initiating a gybing duel to the finish but couldn't sneak past, the Americans earning a good win and an important four points.