Saturday, June 21, 2008

Coutts leads Spithill 3-1 after first day of Jaeger-LeCoultre JUST THE BEST match race

Russell Coutts, CEO and skipper of BMW Oracle, is leading James Spithill, helsman of the same team, 3 to 1 after the first day of the Jaeger-LeCoultre JUST THE BEST match race, an event held in Cattolica, on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, and organized by their Italian teammate Max Sirena.

Still, in order to be exact, Coutts only helmed in two of the day's four races, alternating with Pete Malvin, the American multihull expert BMW Oracle has hired in order to prepare for the upcoming 33rd America's Cup against Alinghi.

The conditions that prevailed during the opening day of the event were quite enjoyable and the two star sailors battled out in front of the new Cattolica marina in a truly summer, sunny day, with the local Scirocco breeze blowing between 6 and 10 knots. Without any doubt, these are excellent conditions for the millions of tourists that will flock the Italian Adriatic coast but hardly the stuff to bring the "beast" out of the Extreme 40 catamarans.

The first race started at around 2pm and it was Pete Melvin that took the helm on Coutts' boat. After a tense prestart the American gained a small advantage over the young Australian sailor. Spithill tried hard but was unable to prevent Melvin from crossing the finish line first.

In the prestart procedure of the second race Spithill showed his legendary aggressive match racing tactics and managed to force Coutts into receiving two penalties. It was obviously game over for the BMW Oracle boss who was unable to recover after offloading his penalties and the score was tied at one point.

It was Pete Melvin's turn to take helm in the third race and the American once again crossed the starting line ahead of Spithill. In a repeat of the first race, Melvin stayed ahead of Spithill, pocketing another point for the Coutts boat.

The fourth and final race of the day was more equal and the two boats crossed the starting line simultaneously but it was Coutts than prevailed in the race.

Spithill is now trailing his boss by two points and will certainly try to catch up on Saturday. Nothing is lost because each victory will now count for two points.

James Spithill and Russell Coutts in the opening day of the Jaeger-LeCoultre JUST THE BEST match race. Cattolica, 20 June 2008.

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