Monday, February 09, 2009

Greek Challenge scores 3rd consecutive win over Shosholoza

It was three out of three for Greek Challenge on Monday and a fantastic end to their participation in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series. The America’s Cup newcomers from Greece met the South African team for the third time, and were victorious in the sail-off for 8th challenger spot in this prestigious event.

Similar to the other two races, the prestart was aggressive but again Brady got the upper hand, crossing the line with great style in what was described as one of the most convincing starts of the regatta. The Greeks stretched out a lead in the first beat, at times leaving Shosholoza 120 meters behind. The crew carried out an excellent spinnaker hoist after the mark and soon Brady put a lid on Cian’s ambitions in the run, rounding the leeward gate comfortably ahead.

Paolo Cian tries unsuccessfully to force a penalty at the 2nd weather mark. Auckland, 9 February 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Greek Challenge

Trying to play it safe, the Greeks sailed conservatively in the 2nd beat, giving Cian the opportunity to momentarily come back. Shosholoza then tried to get the umpires in the game by forcing a possible port-starboard incident at the second weather mark but didn’t succeed. The Greek boat was on the left layline powering on towards the mark while Shosholoza was slowing down on the right one. The two boats were on collision course but Brady had more than enough space to safely round the buoy ahead of the South African team.

Greek Challenge didn’t give their opponent any breathing space in the last run, making sure they matched them gybe for gybe. A good tactical call on the last stretch allowed the Greek boat to take advantage of a puff of wind on the right side of the course and gain an additional couple of boat lengths, crossing the finish line half a minute ahead of Shosholoza.

The Greek team leaves Auckland on a very positive note. The sailing team was formed a mere month ago, trained only one week in Valencia onboard the K-Challenge boats and then another few days in Auckland, prior to the start of official racing. The goal of sailing competitively has been achieved by the Greek team and the 3 wins are the icing on the cake. The foundations have been laid for more success in the future.

Greek Challenge rounds the 2nd weather mark ahead of Shosholoza. Auckland, 9 February 2009. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Greek Challenge

Quotes of the day

Gavin Brady (NZL), helmsman of Greek Challenge: "It’s a pity the event ends here for us. The Greek crew has accomplished a dramatic improvement throughout the last couple of weeks and we are indeed impressed.

I can't sail aggressively without proper boat handling by the crew and everybody did a nice job at the start. We sailed very well, sometimes too conservatively, giving Paolo Cian the opportunity to come back but we kept our lead throughout the race.

Cian tried to put the umpires in the game in the 2nd weather mark but they didn’t have any chance. There was no way we could have gotten into trouble since we were accelerating towards the mark while they were slowing down. In addition, we once again carried out excellent gybes and were able to get a nice puff at the last stretch of 2nd run and gain a couple of boat lengths more."

Sotiris Buseas (GRE), aft grinder and Greek Challenge CEO: "For Greek Challenge it was the right decision to come to the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series. It is the right platform for world-class sailing and on any given day any team had its chance to win. We learned a lot from our Kiwi and South African crew, in fact, we learned a lot from any sailor that raced against us and we deeply thank them for that.

We will now return to Greece and transfer our knowledge and know-how to the rest of the Greek sailing community. This is not the end of our campaign, just the beginning".

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