LVC Report: Luna Rossa Is Latest Victim of BMW Oracle Comeback

Another race, another come-from-behind win for Chris Dickson and BMW Oracle Racing. This time over co-leader Luna Rossa Challenge. Plus, why Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia's win over Desafio Espanol will be resailed.

LVC07-00503A
Stuart Streuli

VALENCIA, Spain-For the third straight race, BMW Oracle Racing was forced to come from behind to record a win. For the third straight race, the American team did exactly that, coming from 11 seconds down at the first windward mark to record a 19-second win over Luna Rossa, the other half of the first-place log jam coming into today's racing.Of course, due to the peculiarities of doing a round robin with an odd number of teams, the two teams leave the day still tied for first. BMW Oracle Racing had a bye in Flight 6, the second of two flights sailed today off Valencia, while Luna Rossa Challenge was able to beat up on Areva Challenge. But while the teams are tied at the top of the leaderboard with 29 points-Emirates Team New Zealand is third with 28-the advantage clearly goes to BMW Oracle Racing, which is now 3-0 in its matches with the other Big 3 syndicates, the only syndicates that appear to have the speed to win the Louis Vuitton Cup.Aside from that match, the most interesting facet of today's racing may have been that two full flights were completed, and completed efficiently and without any extended delays, in the easterly sea breeze. Hopefully that weather pattern will continue. The "reliable" easterly sea breeze is reportedly what drew America's Cup Management to Valencia, but it's been a pretty rare visitor over the past two weeks.In the race for fourth, Victory Challenge picked up a pair of wins to move within a point of Desafio Español. However, it's important to note that Victory has sailed six races to the Spanish team's four. Last night the jury decided that the Wednesday match between Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia and Desafio Español would be resailed as the Italian team, which won the match on the water, had illegally attached its running top-mast backstays on the final run. This is against the rule, which requires teams to decide before a race whether to sail with or without the top-mast backstays. Apparently, according to Mascalzone Latino mastman George Skuodas, this is a rule they've been violating with regularity during the Louis Vuitton Cup. Since the move didn't decide the race-it's merely a safety precaution for the final run, when the drag of the back stays won't hurt-the jury elected to resail the race, rather than award the points to Desafio Español. Jury chairman Bryan Willis met with the press on Friday to explain the decision. Listen to that exchange hereMatch NotesFlight 5United Internet Team Germany vs. Victory ChallengeSkippers Jesper Bank and Magnus Holmberg were teammates with Victory in Auckland, and according to reports, it didn't end happily. So we were hoping for a really combative prestart, which didn't happen. Holmberg appeared to get the best of the it, crossing the line just to leeward and slightly bow forward on the German team, which tacked away. A left shift, or more pressure, gave the Swedish team a solid lead at the first cross and Victory powered away from there.Victory Challenge wins by 1:18BMW Oracle Racing vs. Luna Rossa ChallengeChris Dickson appeared to want the pin and he got it, Luna Rossa's James Spithill happy to take the boat. The early advantage went to Luna Rossa as both boats seemed content to drag race to the left, then back to the right. The lead was 11 seconds for the Italian team at the top mark. BMW Oracle Racing appeared to sail lower and at the same speed on a long port-tack jibe, forcing Luna Rossa to bail out before the layline or risk getting rolled on starboard. The American team continued to gain and used the starboard advantage to pick the right gate mark and the right side of the second beat. In doing so, BMW Oracle Racing turned a 6-second deficit into a 13-second lead by the top mark. The wind seemed steady, this difference seemed to be pure speed. From there Luna Rossa couldn't get close enough to challenge for the lead again. Here are three different perspectives of the how the race turned in favor of BMW Oracle Racing: audio clips from BMW Oracle navigator Peter Isler, BMW Oracle mastman David Brooke, and Luna Rossa tactician Torben Grael.BMW Oracle Racing wins by 19 secondsMascalzone Latino-Capitalia vs. +39 ChallengeOnce again, starting helmsman Jes-Graham Hansen, of Mascalzone Latino proved his worth, working out of a potentially dangerous situation and forcing +39 Challenge to pick up a penalty and start OCS. From there it was a parade.Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia wins by 2:07Team Shosholoza vs. China TeamChina Team held its own in the prestart, and might've even won it, but it was over the line early and had to restart, giving the South African boat an insurmountable lead, especially considering RSA-83's speed in the light to moderate conditions.Team Shosholoza wins by 2:01Desafio Español vs. Emirates Team New ZealandSplit tack start with ETNZ on the right. ETNZ carved out a little advantage and was able to push the Spanish team past the port-tack layline. There, with the lead little more than a boatlength, bow to bow, Dean Barker did a fabulous job of forcing Desafio Español's Karol Jablonski to sail in his backwash all the way to the mark. The lead went from 30 meters to 80. The race remained quite tight down the run, with the Spanish team following ETNZ around the right-side mark, but losing a few seconds due to a conservative takedown. On the second beat, ETNZ tightened the screws and built a virtually unassailable lead for the final run.Emirates Team New Zealand wins by 43 secondsFlight 6Luna Rossa Challenge vs. Areva ChallengeThis race featured two of the best young match racers in the world. Sebastien Col of France and James Spithill of Australia. The primary differences between the two are in experience, Spithill is on his third Cup, this is Col's first, and the resources of the team each sails for, Luna Rossa Challenge has a significantly bigger budget. It was a great start, with a long dial up and then a lot of action, quite a few flags, but no penalties. Areva once again took the left, that appeared to be what it wanted. But there was not enough of an advantage to squeeze off Luna Rossa, which ground out a lead. This one the first one-tack beat we've seen. Once on the port-tack layline, LR extended its leader. The Italian team rounded the leeward gate with a nice lead, not comfortable, but nice.Luna Rossa Challenge wins by 1:16Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia vs. United Internet Team GermanyExtended dial up, then a split-tack start, UITG on port at the boat, MLC on starboard at pin. MLC tacked to keep the game close and won first cross. This race was fairly close for the first lap, with the Germany team hanging just a few boatlengths behind.Mascalzone Latino-Capitalia wins by 34 secondsVictory Challenge vs. +39 ChallengeMagnus Holmberg appeared to want the right and he got it. From there +39 simply didn't have the boatspeed to hang with the Swedish team, though the underfunded Italian team was only 21 seconds behind at the first mark and kept it close throughout the race.Victory Challenge wins by 1:03Desafio Español vs. China TeamSplit tack start, with DE on starboard at boat and China Team on port at pin, and a bit late and slow. China hung tough on the beat, but this race was a foregone conclusion unless the Spanish team had a breakdown. China Team really struggled on the spinnaker takedown, and on the second lap, allowing Desafio Español to open up a large lead.Desafio Español wins by 3:45Emirates Team New Zealand vs. Team ShosholozaNeither team seemed to get the upper hand in the prestart, ETNZ taking a leeward start, but Shosholoza was right on the line and had the early lead. It didn't last long, ETNZ, showed solid boatspeed as the two boats raced toward the port-tack layline. Eventually Shosohloza had to tack, ETNZ followed suit, with about a one-boatlength lead. ETNZ allowed Shosholoza to split to the left side. ETNZ tried to force them into 2 tacks at the mark, but Shosholoza was able to hold its height and round just 10 seconds behind. The South Africans really held their own on the run, not giving an inch to ETNZ, and following them around the left-side gate. This race remained tight until about halfway down the final beat when ETNZ picked up a nice shift and pushed out to a 150-meter lead. Emirates Team New Zealand wins by 0:29