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Team Dennis Conner Extend Lead


Team Dennis Conner Extend Lead

Team Dennis Conner today beat GBR Challenge to take a 3-1 lead in the Quarter-Final series. The result means that Harrison’s men need to win three matches in a row against the seasoned America’s Cup campaigners to progress in the Louis Vuitton Cup. Despite the loss today, Wight Lightning’s increase in speed around the course means that hope remains for the British team. After two days in which the Americans showed superior speed, GBR Challenge continually threatened the four-time America’s Cup winner’s team around the course.

Despite forecasts of strong winds, the racing got underway on time with 15-17 knots from 275 degrees. GBR Challenge, with skipper Ian Walker on the helm, started from the right hand side of the box and immediately went into the dialup. After a minute, the teams tacked off to the right hand side with USA 77 pursuing GBR70. The American boat pinned Wight Lightning out to the right hand side of the course, with the British forced to gybe to escape. The America’s Cup veterans tacked off to lead back towards the line and cross 14 seconds ahead.

Stars & Stripes took control of the first beat, tacking on top of GBR Challenge to extend their lead. However, GBR Challenge took 21 seconds out of Stars & Stripes lead on the first run to round 14 seconds behind to ensure a closely fought race. A tacking duel ensued on the second upwind leg, with Stars & Stripes just managing to force the young British team off.

With the lead at the second windward mark just 22 seconds, GBR Challenge again sailed lower and managed to soak towards Stars & Stripes. Wight Lightning closed to just 10 seconds towards the end of the run, but USA 77 found some extra pressure to pull away and gain three seconds on the leg.

Pressure from Harrison’s men on leg five meant another tacking duel towards the top mark, with the British team throwing in 10 tacks. At the mark, Wight Lightning had shaved a further two seconds off the Americans lead and again pressurised Stars & Stripes. The pressure told, as Conner’s spinnaker filled before it had reached the top of the mast, meaning that the American boat was harder to control. However, the team showed their experience to reassert control. A split gybe by GBR Challenge did not pay off, and the Americans won by 34 seconds.

Wight Lightning (GBR-70) Bow Matt Cornwell Mid Bow Mark Sheffield Mast George Skuodas Pit James Stagg Pit Runner Jonathan Taylor Trim upwind Ian Budgen Trim downwind Simon Fry Grinder Starboard Guy Reid Grinder Port Ian Weighell 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 Peter Harrison

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