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BMW ORACLE Racing leaps into the lead

BMW ORACLE Racing leaps into the lead at the UBS Trophy with two hard fought victories

21st June, 2004 - Newport R.I. - There were perfect conditions for racing on Monday, as a classic sea breeze developed over Narragansett Bay. Strong southwest winds, 15 - 20 knots, whipped up a froth of whitecaps on the bay, and allowed the crews to put on a fantastic display of match racing for the thousands of spectators afloat and ashore.

In the first match of the day, BMW ORACLE Racing won its third consecutive race, to jump into the lead in the UBS Trophy. But the real excitement came in the second match when a flurry of action near the top mark left both boats penalised, a crew member in the water, two shredded spinnakers, and several thousand thrilled spectators.

With the second match this afternoon worth two points, BMW ORACLE Racing leaps into the lead with a 5 to 2 points advantage in the UBS Trophy. Racing in the Pro-Driver series continues on Tuesday afternoon.

UBS TROPHY - Pro-Driver Series - Race Five of 12

BMW ORACLE RACING beat ALINGHI - Delta 0:35 BMW ORACLE RACING LEADS THE PRO-DRIVER SERIES 3 POINTS TO 2

With its third consecutive race win, the BMW ORACLE Racing team jumped into the lead at the UBS Trophy for the first time. Helmsman Gavin Brady again looked strong in the pre-start, and tactician John Kostecki took advantage of the narrow race course to obtain a controlling position.

In the pre-start, Alinghi helmsman Peter Holmberg allowed Brady to avoid a dial-up and the boats immediately started a series of tight circles, each looking to hook in behind the other and gain the advantage.

When the boats eventually broke for the starting line, they appeared to be dead even, Alinghi on the right, and BMW ORACLE tucked close on the left, tight to leeward. The boats raced on starboard tack towards the shoreline, and Alinghi was forced to allow BMW ORACLE room. Both boats tacked simultaneously, and Brady was able to gently nose ahead, inching forward, and eventually gaining enough to blanket Holmberg. Alinghi fought hard to escape, but wasn't able to break coverage until the damage had been done. BMW ORACLE went on to lead by 22-seconds around the first mark.

The boats surfed down the leeward leg in the strong breeze, but Alinghi wasn't able to make a significant gain. BMW ORACLE held its advantage around the rest of the track taking the winning gun by a 35-second margin.

UBS TROPHY - Pro-Driver Series - Race Six of 12

BMW ORACLE RACING beats ALINGHI - Delta 0:48 BMW ORACLE RACING LEADS THE PRO-DRIVER SERIES 5 POINTS TO 2

This was the first two-point race of the UBS Trophy, and the BMW ORACLE Racing team certainly earned the extra reward. This match was very close through the first leg, until a stunning sequence of action near the first windward mark allowed the American team to extend away from Alinghi.

The pre-start sequence was very aggressive in the heavy conditions with the boats dialling up extremely close, before breaking off in a series of circles. Alinghi's Peter Holmberg appeared much stronger in this start, forcing BMW ORACLE's Gavin Brady to tack away for the right side before the start gun fired, and the boats split off at the start.

Brady found a nice little shift early off the start line and held a tiny advantage as the boats converged, and using his starboard tack advantage, he kept forcing Holmberg back towards the shore. The boats split and converged a dozen times up the first leg, but neither boat could get clear ahead. Approaching the top mark, Brady luffed up, and held Holmberg out from rounding the mark for several seconds before breaking off to round the first mark with a narrow seven-second lead.

But the spinnaker hoist went wrong on BMW ORACLE and the sail shredded as it went up, allowing an opportunity for Alinghi. The Swiss boat executed a clean hoist and looked to be in a strong position, but Brady, without a spinnaker, aggressively luffed towards Holmberg, who couldn't respond quickly enough. The boats came very close, and the Umpires assessed Alinghi a penalty for not keeping clear.

But in all the action, Brad Webb, the bowman on BMW ORACLE, fell overboard. He was picked up by a support boat and returned to the racing yacht, but the Umpires assessed a penalty, cancelling the earlier Alinghi infraction. Responding to the aggressive luff in the heavy conditions caused all sorts of problems to Alinghi's spinnaker and in the end, BMW ORACLE was able to hoist a new sail and get racing again more quickly than Alinghi did, stretching to a 30-second lead around the bottom mark.

BMW ORACLE held on the rest of the way, winning by 48-seconds and earning a two-point victory.

* * *

Quotes of the Day

Chris Dickson, BMW ORACLE Racing, on an full day of action: It was an action packed day. We saw some good pre-starting, some great straight line sailing, some tacking duels, and then at the top mark we saw some match racing that was more reminiscent of what you would expect to see in the small boats on the match race tour, but here they were the big America's Cup class boats. So plenty of action today…we certainly had as much action today as you would expect to see in an America's Cup race.

Peter Holmberg, Team Alinghi, assessing BMW ORACLE's speed: We pretty much did what we wanted to do and we did it and we still came out short, so we think they are going a little faster since we lined up last time. They are going faster upwind than us, I think. We are faster downwind.

Josh Belsky, Team Alinghi, comparing the crew work by his team today, to the one that won the America's Cup: I can tell you that when we were sailing in Auckland every day, in those conditions, you can do it in your sleep. It's like clock work. When you get away from it for eight months, and come back a week before…even the guys that were on the boat for every race of the Louis Vuitton, and the America's Cup, you sit there and scratch your heads a bit and say, 'I'm pretty sure we used to do it like this". Throw some new team members into that mix and it definitely adds a challenge but by no means are we making any excuses. I think it's just a question of us sailing together for a longer period of time before the next event and gelling as a group a little bit better than we have for this regatta.

Ian Burns, BMW ORACLE Racing, on the new America's Cup Class rule, to be in effect from next year: When we were formulating the rule we had to balance between not making the old boats obsolete, and yet still try and move the class in a direction that the world wanted to see it go. We received feedback from a lot of designers and took that to point us in the direction the rule has gone. The main changes you'll see in the boats are downwind, the boats being lighter with more sail area should accelerate better, which hopefully will give a boat behind an opportunity to catch up on a puff of breeze or a gust. That would make the racing closer.

Juan Vila, Team Alinghi, on a frustrating day: BMW ORACLE did a very good job today of just getting ahead and extending. It was quite difficult. We did have some trouble…the situation at the windward mark was one, but obviously they defended quite well. We still have to improve a little bit, and we'll work on that.

* * *

Schedule of Races for the UBS Trophy

June 19th, Saturday 1330 Two Pro-Driver races

June 20th, Sunday 1330 Two Pro-Driver races

June 21st, Monday 1330 Two Pro-Driver races

June 22nd, Tuesday 1330 Two Pro-Driver races

June 23rd, Wednesday NO RACING SCHEDULED

June 24th, Thursday 1330 One Pro-Driver race Two Owner-Driver races

June 25th, Friday 1330 One Pro-Driver race Two Owner-Driver races

June 26th, Saturday 1330 Two Pro-Driver races

The schedule of races is subject to change

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