Friday, May 11, 2007

The Louis Vuitton Round Robins

Desafio lose but win...

...and then there were four

The last day of Round Robin 2 produced surprises and upsets in the perfect sailing conditions off the coast of Valencia. Victory Challenge, having just lost a place in the semi-finals were eager to prove their worth in the match with Mascalzone Latino. After an even start, the Italian boat seemed to have the edge and rounded the windward mark 17 seconds ahead of the Swedish team. The race remained close and, in the final stages, Mascalzone hoisted a new spinnaker with the words: “Thank you Italy, thank you Naples”, a fitting gesture from a truly valiant team. Desafío, with Dane Jesper Radich at the helm, were unable to end on a high note, losing the start to Luna Rossa and taking a penalty at the windward mark. The Italian team finished nearly 2 minutes ahead. UI Team Germany lost their race against +39 and a jubilant Team Shosholoza beat Areva in a tense duel by just 14 seconds.

The big match of the day came next, with BMW Oracle pitted against joint favorites Emirates Team NZ. The two teams started evenly, with BMW heading for the left and Team NZ going right. Oracle seemed to have the lead in the early stages but a windshift turned the tables in favour of the New Zealand team, who rounded the windward mark 54 seconds ahead and went on to win by over 90 seconds. Chris Dickson, skipper and helmsman of BMW Oracle said after the series ended: “We’re all stronger today than we were three weeks ago at the beginning of Round Robin One. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and we’re all stronger today.” This has to be the major element in the challenger trials that Cup defenders Alinghi fear most. The four teams going through to the semi-finals have been race-hardened by the events of the last month in an atmosphere that must be almost impossible to create in the boat-for-boat racing within the Defender’s team. The semi-finals start on Monday 14 May. Meanwhile, we say farewell and ‘buenasuerte’ to the seven teams who have helped forge the top four into worthy challengers.

Final Overall Positions after Louis Vuitton Round Robin 2

1 Emirates Team NZ 38
2 BMW Oracle 37
3 Luna Rossa 35
4 Desafío Español 29
5 Victory Challenge 26
5 Mascalzone Latino 22
7 Shosholoza 20
8 Areva 17
9 +39 12
10 UI Team Germany 5
11 China Team 3

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