LVC Report: BMW Oracle Reigns in Round Robin 1

Despite a surprising loss to Desafio Espanol, BMW Oracle wins Round Robin 1 with a 9-1 record. Luna Rossa finishes second.

VALENCIA, Spain-So today it all made sense, why we only sailed half the races in flights 10 and 11 on Friday. It allowed the six races today to take center stage, with no distractions. It was a mind-numbing blur of action. Engaging prestarts, tacking duels, dramatics passes, every thing racing at this level should be. The biggest winner on the day was Luna Rossa Challenge, which racked up a pair of solid wins and now stands second in standings with an 8-2 record. At the top is BMW Oracle Racing, which lost to Desafio Español in it's first race-which already started the conspiracy buffs chirping about how it was part of BMW Oracle's master plan to keep the dangerous Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia out of the semifinals-but then did an impressive job of sailing around Emirates Team New Zealand after handing the Kiwi team a 100-meter lead off the starting line. ETNZ, which came out of round robin 1 with a 7-3 record, certainly not what they hoped for is third, and the Desafio Español is fourth, three points clear of Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia and Victory Challenge which pulled out a crucial upset in its final race of Round Robin 1. For more on each race, including audio quotes from a few key people, see below.If there's one thing to take away from Round Robin 1, it's take just about any team can win a race. While teams like Luna Rossa and BMW Oracle Racing seem like locks for the semifinals, Jonathan McKee explains why the game is much more competitive than in past Cups and why every race has to be taken seriously.Match Notes (Left-hand boat entered on port tack)Flight 10Luna Rossa Challenge vs. Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia TeamLuna Rossa was a little late into the starting box, 14 seconds. MLC controlled start, but never put LR away. MLC put together a 23-second lead on first beat, lost 6 seconds on the run, then LR really turned it on, passed, and build big lead by second windward mark for win. Tough to say anything about the speed of the boats. But LR hung tough and took advantage of a break. Double Olympic medalist Jonathan McKee talks about the general feeling in the team here.Luna Rossa Challenge wins by 49 secondsEmirates Team New Zealand vs. Victory ChallengeHolmberg, coming in from starboard, avoided the dial up, possibly because a right shift. But from there Magnus Holmberg on Victory did a stellar job, forcing ETNZ into two tacks in the final 30 seconds. ETNZ started 11 seconds behind and very slow. But, explains Ray Davies in this audio clip, it was what the team wanted. NZL-92 accelerated so quickly the lead was erased in minutes. Very impressive. VC came back toward the top, almost was able to work ETNZ past starboard layline, but came up just short. ETNZ rounded first and was able to extend, particularly on the second lap.Emirates Team New Zealand wins by 1:42BMW Oracle Racing vs. Desafio EspañolBig right shift allowed BMW Oracle to cross easily and take the right side. Start was relatively even, midline with BMW Oracle to windward and little separation between the boats. DE showed some nice speed upwind, matching BMW Oracle and then taking the lead with a shift or more pressure. The breeze was very spotty throughout the flight. BMW Oracle flew a red flag, not sure why. First run, DE built on advantage, and did the same on the second beat. How the Spanish team was able to extend on the second beat is worth investigating. We know USA-98 is quick, but it didn't seem like it in Flight 10. Have to be impressed with how the Spanish sailed, they didn't appear to make any mistakes. Red flag protest is a request for redress. Most people seem to think it has to do with the change mark procedure. The protest was never filed. Chris Dickson explains what went wrong for BMW Oracle Racing here.Desafio Español wins by 1:00Flight 11Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia vs. Victory ChallengeFairly tame prestart. Some circling to leeward of the committee boat. But MLC appeared to want left side, Victory the right and both seemed to get what they wanted. VC appeared to hit the line with a little better speed, maybe in a slight bit more pressure, staked out to an early 20-meter lead. Victory controlled the bit, pinging MLC out toward the port layline. Toward the top the teams switched sides. Victory Challenge appeared to have a lead of at least one boatlength, but on the final tack to the mark, VC on the port layline, MLC on starboard, the Italian team was able to sneak inside, and round ahead by 3 seconds. Down the run MLC built a nice lead, over 100 meters, but sacrificed nearly half of that to round in front of VC rather then allowing them to split. A safe maneuver. Another brutal tacking duel up the second beat and Victory was able to get the right side and then make the pass, rounding with an 18-second lead, which VC built upon during the final run. Nice race from Victory Challenge.Victory Challenge wins by 28 secondsDesafio Español vs. Luna Rossa ChallengeMore combative prestart, DE did a tack inside of 20 seconds, which hurt it's speed build and gave LR a slight edge off the line, which it built upon during a long starboard tack run. LR was strong from there. DE took a little bit out of the lead upwind, but not nearly enough to worry James Spithill and his team. Luna Rossa Challenge wins by 37 secondsEmirates Team New Zealand vs. BMW Oracle RacingOne of the most interesting prestarts we've seen yet. The two boats entered into an extended dial up last slowly drifted toward the pin end. With less than a minute go, BMW Oracle looked like they were in total control with both boats sliding over the line and Emirates Team New Zealand with no room to duck down and make the pin. At the gun, ETNZ was over the line and sliding to the left side of the pin. Then Chris Dickson appeared to make a huge mistake opting to not officially start, but instead stay below the pin and try to engage Dean Barker again. Barker wiggled a bit then tacked back toward the line. Dickson jibed, but was unable to accelerate, allowing ETNZ to sail over the top of USA-98, duck below the line, harden up, and then tack to cover USA-98, which was forced to tack back to starboard and was quite stalled. The end result was a lead of nearly 100 meters for a team that appeared dead to rights. Chris Dickson explains how it went from so good to so bad.Then next thing you know BMW Oracle is dead even as they round the windward mark, rounding outside of ETNZ and only 3 seconds behind. BMW Oracle steadily rolled over the top, forcing ETNZ to jibe away. From there BMW Oracle turned on the gas, opening up a 230-meter lead by the time Dickson spun USA-98 into a jibe. But as soon as ETNZ jibed the lead took a huge dive, shrinking below 100 meters as the breeze continued to go right, a nice break for ETNZ, as had the breeze oscillated back to the left they would've been completely screwed.BMW Oracle came into the leeward gate in no-mans' land, but executed the sweetest jibe, genoa hoist, spinnaker takedown I've ever seen. Jamie Gale talks us through the maneuver here. ETNZ had to spin through 180 degrees and it cost them in speed.The second beat went much according to form, with BMW Oracle clamping a close cover on ENTZ. Unfortunately for ETNZ, a big right shift turned the final run into a port-tack parade, leaving the Kiwi team no real chance of making a comeback.BMW Oracle Racing wins by 38 secondsStandings After Round Robin 1 (11 flights, 10 races for each team)1. BMW ORACLE Racing (USA 98) 212. Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA 94) 193. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL 92) 184. Desafio Español 2007 (ESP 97) 175. Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia (ITA 99) 145. Victory Challenge (SWE 96) 147. Team Shosholoza (RSA 83) 12 8. Areva Challenge (FRA 93). 99. +39 Challenge (ITA 85) 610. United Internet Team Germany (GER 89) 311. China Team (CHN 95) 1