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Light Winds Bedevil Flight 6

Leg time limit expires in three of four races.

October 8, 2002
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Courtesy Oracle-bmw Racing

Racing was abandoned for three out of four matches of Flight 6 of the Louis Vuitton Cup Tuesday, but not before some interesting observations were made.

Mascalzone Latino raced against Team GBR and led for the first two legs of the race. “We are very glad after this race even if it didn’t come to a happy end,” said skipper/owner Vincenzo Onarato. “We could quite easily control the other yacht even if it was a tough opponent.” The British team took the lead on the second upwind leg but seemed to lose it in the light, shifty conditions just before the race was abandoned.

OneWorld and Oracle had a ferocious duel in the pre-race maneuvering but OneWorld showed great boatspeed on the first weather leg and rounded the weather mark 1m:13s ahead of Oracle. The breeze took a holiday about halfway down the leg but not before Oracle rode a private puff around OneWorld. As the wind petered out to nothing, both teams exchanged the lead several times while changing from light headsails to code zeros to spinnakers and back again.

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In the third race that never was, Stars & Stripes had a good start against Le Defi and rounded the first weather mark 38 seconds ahead of the French. The tricky conditions saw S&S; surrender that lead briefly but they regained it before the leeward mark. In a frustrating bit of bad luck, Team Dennis Conner were within scant feet of the mark when the 45-minute leg time expired. “It’s a tough day when you’re ahead of your competitor by ten minutes and you miss the time limit by ten seconds,” said S&S; helmsman Ken Read. “The good news is that the boat showed some good pace today and our brain trust did a really nice job of getting us a good lead . . . so we look forward to going out and doing it again tomorrow.”

In the only race completed, Luna Rossa finally caught a couple of breaks. For most of the race Prada trailed Victory Challenge, but when they took a flier out the right on the final beat the Swedes failed to cover and Prada took home a much-needed win.

The reason for the strife between Patricio Bertelli and Doug Peterson became a little clearer Tuesday, when Prada announced that their second boat, ITA-80, is heading to a boatyard for modifications. “The modifications involve the hull. It is part of the development program,” skipper Francesco de Angelis said. “The casual observer may not notice the changes, but maybe they aren’t so subtle.” A Team Prada press release states that the boat will be sailing again by the first week of November.

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