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Oracle Prove Heavy Air Kings

2nd November 2002. Oracle this morning preserved their record as the heavy air kings of the Louis Vuitton Cup, defeating GBR Challenge by two minutes. The big budget American team won the pre-start, holding the British team beyond the starboard layline before tacking for the line.

Oracle BMW then covered Harrison’s men around the course to ensure their fifth win in six matches.

After a short delay to wait for the wind to settle, the pre-start got underway with GBR Challenge entering from the right hand side in 15 knots of breeze from 200 degrees. The teams went into a dial-up, with Oracle tacking off to the right and GBR Challenge to the left. As the teams came back into another dial-up, Peter Holmberg protected the right.

The third time that the teams came together, Harrison’s men managed to sail underneath the experienced Americans. Oracle BMW reacted by gybing onto the tail of Wight Lightning. With 90 seconds to go to the gun, GBR 70 tacked back onto starboard, but was given a penalty as the jury decided that the British team had tacked in Oracle BMW’s water.

The American team luffed and threatened to shut Wight Lightning out at the Committee Boat end of the line. GBR 70 tacked, with USA 76 tacking to position to windward to cover the British team. Holmberg sailed GBR Challenge to the right, beyond the starboard layline before tacking back to the line to cross 19 seconds ahead.

GBR Challenge threw in 13 tacks, with the big budget American team reacting each time to cover their British counterparts as the breeze built to 19 knots. Oracle BMW showed their strong upwind speed in the windy conditions to take a 55 second lead at the windward mark.

On the first run, GBR 70 gybed out to the left hand side of the course with USA 76 sailing to the right. Oracle BMW gybed back to cover and extended slightly on GBR Challenge. At the first leeward mark, the margin was one minute and ten seconds.

Whilst GBR Challenge recovered two seconds on Oracle BMW on the second beat, the American team remained in control to maintain their lead for the final run and take the point from the match.


Wight Lightning (GBR-70) vs Oracle Crew List
Bow Peter Thomas
Mid Bow Mark Sheffield/
Mast George Skuodas
Pit James Stagg
Pit Runner Jonathan Taylor
Trim upwind Mal Parker
Trim downwind Simon Fry
Grinder Starboard Guy Reid
Grinder Port Greg Searle
Mid Grinder Jim Turner
Main Trimmer Chris Mason
Navigator Jules Salter
Aft Grinder Chris Main
Strategist Andy Beadsworth
Skipper Ian Walker
Tactician Adrian Stead
17th Man Julia Harrison-Lee


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