Friday, February 06, 2009

Alinghi leads LV Pacific Series Round Robin 2

[Source: LVPS] The rich got richer today on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour as international teams match racing in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series competed before crowds ashore and afloat. Bright sunshine, a brisk 16-knot north-easter and flat water provided ideal conditions for crews and the crowds on North Head and on a spectator fleet that started at 60 boats and grew during the day.

Host team Emirates Team New Zealand and the Swiss team Alinghi both won races while America’s BMW Oracle Racing showed winning form and finished its race first, only to be docked a point for a pre-start collision

To celebrate New Zealand's Waitangi day, Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker experienced that winning feeling again with a conservative but comfortable victory over the Italian Luna Rossa team helmed by Peter Holmberg

The hapless Greek Challenge, with Gavin Brady steering, copped two penalties well before the start gun in their showdown with China Team and Ian Williams. The double hit effectively shattered the Greeks’ hopes of advancing any further. They will race once more tomorrow and again next week against South Africa’s Team Shosholoza in the contest for 9th and 10th places.

Russell Coutts for BMW Oracle Racing was relentless in the pre-start in his attacks on TEAMORIGIN’S Ben Ainslie With the seconds counting down after a long dialup, Ainslie made his bid to break clear. There was hard contact as the boats split away and the umpires docked Oracle one point and TEAMORIGIN half a point. Adding insult to injury, the British boat suffered headfoil damage that prevented the crew raising their jib and was forced to retire. Coutts won the race but the victory point was cancelled by the penalty point. The Britons protested but the jury upheld the umpires’ decisions against both boats.

The first race of the day saw a penalty when Italian helmsman Francesco Bruni, who was leading on the first weather leg, attempted protect his lead and trap Alinghi’s Ed Baird in a dial-down. The umpires red-flagged the Italian boat and Alinghi sailed on to win. In other racing, Sebastien Col, driving Pataugas K-Challenge for France, defeated Paolo Cian at the wheel of Team Shosholoza and eliminated the South Africans from this round.

Gold Fleet scores: Alinghi, 2 points; BMW Oracle Racing, 1; Damiani Italia Challenge, 0; Luna Rossa, 0; TEAMORIGIN, -.5; (Emirates Team New Zealand is not awarded points in this round). Silver Fleet: Pataugas K-Challenge, 2; China Team, 2; Team Shosholoza, 0; Greek Challenge, 0

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