Friday, February 06, 2009

Greek Challenge sadly thwarted by gear failure

A gear failure beyond the control of the Greek Challenge crew cost them the race against China Team and their chance to move on to the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series quarterfinals. In a day marked by breakages in almost all races, the first ever America’s Cup team from Greece suffered in the prestart when the crew was unable to hoist the jib due to gear failure.

Since the 10-minute prestart sequence had begun the Greeks were denied a postponement of the start and had to try to enter the start box with just their mainsail while at the same time trying to fix the problem. World match racing champion Ian Williams on China Team took advantage of the situation and pushed the Greek boat out of the start box. With 2 minutes to go Greek Challenge was given a penalty for failing to enter and 1 minute later another one. Unfortunately, the race was over before it even started for the Greeks as China Team sailed conservatively and crossed the finish line ahead.

In the day’s most thrilling match, Team Origin conceded defeat to BMW Oracle when a similar failure in their headfoil sent the British home halfway through the race.

In the other race of the Silver Fleet, Pataugas K-Challenge scored a convincing victory over South Africa’s Shosholoza. China Team and Pataugas K-Challenge will move to the quarterfinals, regardless of Saturday’s results while the Greeks and the South Africans will face each other for the final match of Round Robin 2 and in a second confrontation for 8th and 9th place overall, next week.

Quotes of the day

Gavin Brady (NZL), helmsman of Greek Challenge: “We had a gear failure on the boat. The jib wouldn’t go in the foil and as a result we had to pull our jib down for the start. We were then unable to pull the jib back up and tried to enter without a jib, something very hard. When we found out what the problem was we were not close to the start line and had to go to the start line with just the mainsail up.

The race committee wouldn’t postpone the start and we didn’t enter the start box because we were on port entry. If we were on starboard entry it would have been much easier. We would have just gone with the main and deal with the problem”.

The frustrated kiwi helmsman added that “there was nothing we could do; we couldn’t start the race properly. We got the jib up with two minutes to go and they gave us a penalty and then another one. With two penalties, one of which had to be done right away, there was nothing we could do.

We can’t protest because the umpires decision is final, which is good, because otherwise we would have endless protests and hearings and nobody wants that. That’s the way it is and we will have to accept it.”

Sotiris Buseas (GRE), aft grinder and Greek Challenge CEO: “You know, Greeks never give up and never abandon a race, regardless of the circumstances. Due to this gear failure, beyond our control, we were unable to race. Our helmsman asked me to abandon the race but that was not an option. I asked the crew to go ahead and sail until we crossed the finish line.

We came to the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series to sail with our heart and that’s what we have done. We will win with our mind in future races.”

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