OneWorld, Prada Win First Races of Quarterfinal Repechage Round

Stars & Stripes loses lead, Victory manhandled by Prada

After three days of postponements, the Louis Vuitton Cup quarterfinal repechage finally got underway Tuesday afternoon. The breeze was mostly under ten knots and contained thirty-degree shifts; maddening conditions for tacticians, and oddsmakers.

Team Dennis Conner and OneWorld were the first pair to start and simply put, OneWorld won the start and the race. In between those two events, however, there was a classic dogfight. OneWorld won the start and the left-hand side of the course. Stars & Stripes had split seconds before the start and went right. Initially, it looked like a clear winner for OneWorld but, thanks to a huge right-hand shift and OneWorld's decision not to cross USA-77 during a meeting halfway up the leg, S&S; got around the weather mark 26 seconds before the Seattle team. On the first downwind leg, S&S; extended and led by 55 seconds at the leeward mark. The wheels fell off for Stars & Stripes during the second weather leg as OneWorld, showing great boatspeed and aggressive tactics, closed the gap to S&S; to about a boatlength-and-a-half. The duo split during the downwind leg and OneWorld went to the (upwind) left side and made out like a bandit, losing one port/starboard exchange at their first meeting, but after being bounced out, coming back with a huge gain and the lead. OneWorld extended on the next leg, lost a bit on the final downwind, but crossed ahead of S&S; by 1m:16s.

In the second match, Prada won the start and went left while Victory went right, found some favored breeze, and led for most of the leg. Sweden's lead didn't last long; Prada found some pressure, passed the Swedes at the weather mark and never looked back. Prada def. Victory by 1m:31s.