UBS Trophy Continues to Captivate

Days Three and Four of the UBS Trophy in Newport, R.I. build on a successful weekend

UBS Trophy 2

Thierry Martinez / Team Alinghi

Following a weekend of gorgeous weather and picturesque sailing, Narragansett Bay silenced any notions of a painless UBS Trophy. The scene off Newport was much different for days three and four of the eight-day event between Cup defenders Alinghi and Challenger of Record BMW Oracle Racing. High winds and big seas highlighted the intense and often dangerous sailing conditions. Monday picked up where Sunday left off-full of strong winds and close racing. Race 1 was delayed while the Race Committee waited for a shifting breeze to settle. Once underway, the first race allowed many opportunities to see how similar in speed the two boats really were. The consensus among most, including crew from both teams, was that USA-76 was faster upwind and that SUI-64 was faster downwind. "We pretty much did what we wanted to do and we did it and we still came out short, so we think they are going a little faster since we lined up last time." Says Holmberg. "They are going faster upwind than us, I think. We are faster downwind." Action intensified during the second race, undoubtedly the most entertaining thus far. There had been heated tacking duels and otherwise close racing, including a luffing match on the port layline that resulted in an Alinghi penalty for not staying clear as the windward boat. Alinghi rounded 4 seconds behind BMW Oracle, but the leader's spinnaker blew apart on the set. Gavin Brady, BMW Oracle helmsman and Swedish Match Tour regular began violently swinging the boat around, trying to stay to leeward and in front of a quickly closing Alinghi. In the process, bowman on BMW Oracle Racing, Brad Webb, fell in, but Alinghi's spinnaker tore as well. Webb's short swim automatically handed BMW Oracle Racing a penalty, negating Alinghi's earlier foul. The crews of both were scrambling ("it was a --fight," Brady said next day) and BMW Oracle managed to set a new chute first and pull away to a healthy 7 to 8 boatlength lead. "It was an action packed day," said BMW Oracle CEO and afterguard member Chris Dickson. "We saw some good pre-starting, some great straight line sailing, some tacking duels, and then at the top mark we saw some match racing that was more reminiscent of what you would expect to see in the small boats on the match-race tour. We certainly had as much action today as you would expect to see in an America's Cup race." On Tuesday Newport showed her teeth with driving rain and winds in excess of 20 knots. Still, spectators weathered the cold, wet conditions at Fort Adams and on the water. Alinghi and BMW Oracle split the two races. BMW Oracle won the first, their fifth consecutive race. Simon Daubney, jib trimmer on Alinghi showed his light side when asked to comment on the losing streak, "Some of the new guys on board were starting to say that we must have just been incredibly lucky in Auckland. It was nice to get a win this afternoon for those guys to show that we're not completely hopeless." In Race 1 the first beat was heavily skewed and whoever was able to get on port tack first was more than likely to round the first mark ahead. A spiraling pre-start with Oracle in the controlling position gave the American boat the advantage off the line, which skipper Gavin Brady converted to a 10-second lead at the windward mark. Finding passing lanes was hard, and Oracle extended to win its fifth straight by 39 seconds. Race 2 began with a wild pre-start which gave Alinghi the favored right side of the course. Maintaining starboard advantage at every crossing, they protected their side and rounded 13 seconds ahead at the first mark. BMW Oracle kept it close, rounding 10 seconds behind at the leeward mark. They went into a tack immediately after rounding and it looked like a long tacking duel would follow; however, during the tack a crewmember on USA-76 got caught in the jib sheet and the crew couldn't complete their tack. Going back to their original heading, BMW Oracle Racing watched as Alinghi sailed away to its first win since the first day of racing. Though the score is now BMW Oracle Racing 7-Alinghi 4, the regatta is far from over. Races count for progressively more as the event winds down. The last two races count for a total of 10 points; Race 11 is worth three points and Race 12 worth seven. Sailors and spectators had the day off on Wednesday. BMW Oracle Racing tactician John Kostecki was named to the Sailing World Hall of Fame and recognized at a media event in the morning. Racing resumes Thursday with the UBS Trophy debut of the Owner/Driver series. The face-off between Team Alinghi boss Ernesto Bertarelli, and BMW Oracle Racing Team's Larry Ellison should provide plenty of action and much to talk about. For more: