Saturday, May 22, 2010

Faulty crew work costs Team Origin race against Aleph

[Source: Team Origin] After a short postponement on Saturday morning, racing for the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena regatta in Sardinia, got underway with TEAMORIGIN taking centre stage in the first race against the French Aleph Sailing Team, skippered by Bertrand Pacé. Wind strength at the start was 7-8 knots from the North East.

TEAMORIGIN, with starboard entry, controlled the first part of the pre-start fairly conventionally with a dial-up. Towards the end of the five-minute countdown skipper Ben Ainslie committed to the right hand side of the pair and tacked in the last 30 seconds to start on port tack.

Aleph started at the pin end at speed and headed out to the left of the course in good pressure. When the pair came back together the French boat was marginally bow-forwards but not far enough to cross ahead. Tacking in the lee bow position forced TEAMORIGIN back to the right. The pair tacked back towards each other three more times and on all three approaches the British boat closed down the French advantage and took over the lead to round the top mark with a two length advantage.

Faulty crew work costs Team Origin race against Aleph. La Maddalena, 22 May 2010. Photo copyright Paul Todd / Louis Vuitton Trophy

The race was still close, the wind was dropping and the teams had to concentrate on keeping the boats moving fast. TEAMORIGIN was in control and gybed. The spinnaker sheets were rigged for an outside gybe instead of an inside resulting in a twist in the spinnaker requiring it to be dropped to untangle it. Aleph needed no more excuse to seize the opportunity and take the lead. By the time TEAMORIGIN had got back up to speed the French boat had built up a lead of 100 metres which was sufficient to keep them ahead for the rest of the run.

The pair both rounded the left hand gate mark TEAMORIGIN having to tack away to the right to clear their air and try and find a way around the French team. But the left was the paying side and no matter what the British team tried the French team extended their lead up to nearly 300 metres at one stage.

The last run was always going to be difficult as the wind at the bottom of the course was dying fast. As the pair sailed downwind into lighter and lighter winds the gap between them dropped, TEAMORIGIN sailing up from behind to reduce the lead to just 90 metres. But the finish line passed under Aleph’s keel before the gap between the two reduced enough for TEAMORIGIN to pass resulting in an unfortunate loss made entirely by crew error.

Faulty crew work costs Team Origin race against Aleph. La Maddalena, 22 May 2010. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Team Origin

Iain Percy, Tactician,
commented after the race, “We are naturally disappointed to lose the first race, especially given it was due to an unforced error. The format of racing here means its all about performance at the end of the regatta so we need to take some positives out of the fact that we did the hard stuff well, had a good start and led at the top mark – that said, we do need to convert some of these races into race wins sooner rather than later.”

Andrew Simpson, Strategist, added, “It was pretty light winds, we preferred the right and they took the left, it was not a hard fought start. Our side did seem to pay off and we lead around the first mark so all was going according to plan. We matched the first gybe but were set up for outside and not inside gybes and a lack of slack led to a twist that was the killer blow for the race. We pushed hard to get back into the race and made some inroads but the French had a healthy lead and took the win.”

In the other match of flight 1, Mascalzone Latino were up against Azzurra and Azzura managed to take an early penalty by entering the start box too soon so were disadvantaged from the start. Mascalzone Latino went on to take the race win by 2 minutes and 27 seconds – the first of many inter-Italian battles for sure!

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