Strong start for Italy

But Americans lead after day one of the International Catamaran Challenge Trophy in Newport, RI

Friday October 3rd 2003, Author: Jan Harley, Location: United States
At the outset of the International Catamaran Challenge Trophy match today, very few were ready to bet on the Italians.

Daniele Saragoni and Teo di Battista are not full time sailors like John Lovell and Charlie Ogletree, who represented the USA in the Tornado Class in the latest two Olympic Games and recently came 9th at the 2003 Tornado Worlds at Cadiz.

However the two Italian 'gentleman' sailors had an opportunity yesterday to win all the first 4 races and bring the LAC for the first time ever to Italy. This is the confirmation that match racing in catamaran is a totally different game racing them around the buoys. In a fleet race the Americans would have beaten the Italian round the course by minutes.

As John Lovell and Randy Smyth stated recently: "Match racing on fast catamarans is an art totally new even for the best catsailors worldwide, an art to be learnt with specific training or on the race field".

This is the reason why the three Italian challengers met with Marco Mercuriali to have a match racing stage on the second week-end of September. Marco Mercuriali is a three times America's Cupper, an ISAF International Umpire and Team Prada's expert on racing rules. Evidently Saragoni and Di Battista made profit of the lesson, as yesterday they were able to drive the more talented American duo in a bad position.
This is the story of the races.

After yesterday's layday and with the challenger (Italy's Daniele Saragoni and crew Teo Di Battista, representing Club Nautico Rimini) and defender (John Lovell of New Orleans, La., and crew Charlie Ogletree of Houston, Texas, representing Southern Yacht Club) decided, so today the big match commenced with three three lap races around a windward-leeward course in breeze of 20-23 knots.

In race one Lovell and Ogletree were in the lead only to hook the windward mark, which allowed Saragoni and Di Battista to pass them and get on the scoreboard with the first win. In the second race, the Americans held the lead until the second downwind leg when, with the spinnaker out, they hit a wave and capsized, opening the door for the Italians to pass them on their way to the finish line.

In race three, Lovell and Ogletree capsized on the starting line and despite getting their cat back up quickly, the time elapsed was enough to give a half leg lead to the Italians who had sustained a pre-start penalty which they performed on the first leg.

Showing plenty of determination, Lovell and Ogletree ran them down in the puffy and shifty conditions to win their first race of the day.

The final two races of the day saw even starts with both boats jockeying upwind. The Americans were around each mark first, albeit with the Italians right on them. In both instances, Saragoni and Di Battista crossed the line only 10-15 seconds behind Lovell and Ogletree, who ended the day 3-2.

The winner of the International Catamaran Challenge Trophy will be determined tomorrow when the final two races are sailed in this best four-out-of-seven series between the Defender and Challenger.

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