Yacht racing doesn’t get much better than Saturday’s OneWorld/Oracle match. A decent breeze between 14 and 19 knots, some aggressive starting tactics, and a wonderful final leg made this second race of the Semifinal Repechage one of the more exciting matches of the Louis Vuitton Cup to date. Unlike Friday’s race, where the winning delta didn’t reflect the closeness of the match, Saturday’s clash ended with an exciting 3-second win for Oracle/BMW Racing.
For most of the final five minutes before the starting gun, Oracle, steered by Chris Dickson, controlled OneWorld from behind. At one minute, OneWorld used Oracles own chase boat as a pick and escaped Dicksons clutches. But the move was too late; OneWorld followed Oracle to the line, slightly to weather and behind and both boats were late for the start by a couple of seconds. OneWorld couldnt live in Oracles gas and tacked away on port.
The right hand side looked good briefly, but about two thirds of the way up the first leg the boats came together and Oracle was in control, forcing OneWorld above the port layline and leading around the first mark by 16 seconds. Oracle managed to protect that lead through most of the rest of the race but OneWorld was never completely out of contention.
On the final downwind leg, OneWorld made a play for the lead, sailing around Oracle with phenomenal boatspeed. Oracle fought tooth and nail and had the right of way, but at one point, mere yards from the finish OneWorld looked as though they might just break free enough to pass. In the final seconds, however, Oracle dug deep and came up with just enough pace to cross the finish line 3 seconds ahead of a charging OneWorld.
Oracle now leads the series 2-0, and is only two victories away from a spot in the Louis Vuitton finals against Alinghi. OneWorld faces a near-insurmountable deficit, needing five wins to advance thanks to the penalty point levied by the Arbitration panel.