And another for Spithill

As the Luna Rossa skipper takes first place and $35,000 prize money at the Brazil Sailing Cup

Monday March 20th 2006, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: United Kingdom
The final round of the inaugural Brazil Sailing Cup, Stage 5 of the 2005-’06 World Match Racing Tour, at Angra dos Reis, featured two crews that advanced from distinctly different paths.

James Spithill (AUS), Luna Rossa Challenge, entered the final as the favorite having won seven straight races. Throughout the week observers commented that he was sailing fast and smooth. Thierry Peponnet (FRA), K-Challenge, advanced to the final after coming through the repechage round, and that after having survived a 1 point penalty that nearly knocked him out of the regatta.

Peponnet drew first blood in the final. He defeated the Luna Rossa skipper when the Spithill got fouled up at the start. But Spithill rallied to win three straight races, including a riveting finale, and captured his second career World Tour victory. With the win Spithill catapulted into 7th place on the World Tour standings with 25 points. “The team carried a lot of momentum into this event,” said Spithill. “It was a really tough field; a lot of teams were represented. This team’s been sailing together for a while now and we’re feeling comfortable. It’s a real feather in the cap for the guys.”

Spithill’s crew included Magnus Augustsson (bow), Michele Ivaldi (tactics), Jonathan McKee (mainsail) and Joe Newton (headsails). They finished the regatta with a 10-1 record and won $35,000 of the $100,000 prize purse.

Despite the loss Peponnet was happy with his performance, saying he would’ve gladly accepted second place at the beginning of the week. “We had an exciting final with James, unfortunately we made two mistakes on the starts,” said Peponnet. “We got two penalties and I think that was not so good so we have to improve on that side. What is good is we improved every day, race after race, with the pressure on, and it’s good to sail with pressure on your head.”

Peponnet’s crew included Benoit Briand, Tanguy Cariou, Herve Cunningham and Thierry Douillard. They finished the week with a 10-7 record and won $20,000. Peponnet’s runner-up finish hikes his points total to 24 and places him just outside the Championship 8 of the World Tour standings. He plans to do at least two more events this season.

Spithill and Peponnet advanced to the final after 2-0 wins in the semis. Spithill beat Ben Ainslie (GBR), Emirates Team New Zealand, and Peponnet took down Gavin Brady (NZL), Beau Geste Sailing Team. In the Petite Final Ainslie closed out Brady 2-0. The 15 points Ainslie won moved him into second place on the World Tour standings, 3 points behind leader Peter Gilmour (AUS), PST.

“As a team we’re seriously close to getting there,” said Ainslie, who placed 2nd at the Portugal Match Cup last July. “There are still a few areas … but we’re not off by much.” Brady won 12 points and moved into a fourth-place tie with Ed Baird (USA), Alinghi, in the standings. Each skipper has 32 points.

Staffan Lindberg (FIN), Alandia Sailing Team, placed ninth and dropped from second to third in the standings. He remains at 37 points after failing to score points this week.

The final started on a good note for Peponnet. He entered on a bit of a roll, having won seven of nine races in the repechage, quarterfinals and semis. He promptly ran that to eight of 10 races due to a little luck on the start line that he held onto for a 1-0 lead. “We were a bit late on the line,” said Michele Ivaldi, Spithill’s tactician. “The wind went light and left. It made life difficult. He got a small advantage that he kept.”

As quickly as Peponnet went up 1-0, Spithill gained control at 2-1. The Aussie won Races 2 and 3 due to his characteristic smooth sailing and pre-start penalties on Peponnet. “We were port entry in the first one and were maybe too slow to tack onto starboard,” Peponnet said. “James was on a steady course for a long time. So the umps were thinking I could start changing course earlier.

“The second one we both were sailing backwards, we were on starboard and were windward and the gap was closing and I tried to do something,” Peponnet continued. “I decided to try to tack to avoid the gap closing, and unfortunately I made a mistake there. If we can improve this kind of entry in pre-start sequence I think we can sail better.”

The final race was a nail biter. In lighter winds Peponnet was leading back to the start line, luffing Spithill to keep him slow. Both crews took starboard onto the racecourse. Peponnet had Spithill under control and pushed him well past the windward mark. Both crews were so far above the windward mark they had to sail downwind to get back and round it properly to starboard.

Peponnet was first around with Spithill close behind. On the run Peponnet decided to jibe to starboard first, and the match turned in Spithill’s favor at that moment. Ivaldi had been calling for a right shift with pressure halfway up the windward leg and it finally came in. Spithill was able to sail lower and faster, and later on the leg jibed to starboard. Holding right of way, he forced Peponnet to round the right-hand gate mark, which turned out disadvantaged.

Spithill rounded the left mark and got a 20-degree shift with pressure for the second upwind leg. Spithill led by no more than two boatlengths at the second windward mark, but it was enough for the championship. “We were lucky the wind didn’t fill earlier,” said Ivaldi. “He would’ve been able to lay the mark and the race would’ve been over. But it was a winning move.”

“He had a good call,” Peponnet said. “If we saw the big shift before and (kept) the position maybe we could have a fifth race. But he sailed well, so congratulations to James.”

Final results

Prize Purse: $100,000
Skipper (Country) Team, Record, Prize Money
1. James Spithill (AUS) Luna Rossa Challenge, 10-1, $35,000
(Crew: Magnus Augustsson, Michele Ivaldi, Jonathan McKee, Joe Newton)
2. Thierry Peponnet (FRA) K-Challenge, 10-7, $20,000
(Crew: Benoit Briand, Tanguy Cariou, Herve Cunningham, Thierry Douillard)
3. Ben Ainslie (GBR) Emirates Team New Zealand, 7-5, $15,000
(Crew: Kelvin Harrap, Richard Meacham, Tony Rae, Rob Salthouse)
4. Gavin Brady (NZL) Beau Geste Sailing Team, 4-7, $8,000
(Crew: Jon Gunderson, Brett Jones, Tony Rey, Geordie Shaver)
5. Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge, 5-2, $7,000
(Crew: Anders Dahlsjo, Niklas Carlzon, Lars Linger, Mattias Rahm)
6. Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi, 3-4, $5,500
(Crew: Rodney Ardern, Nils Frei, Murray Jones, Piet Van Nieuwenhuyzen)
6= Dean Barker (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand, 4-4, $5,500
(Crew: Don Cowie, James Dagg, Jared Henderson, Terry Hutchinson)
8. Ian Williams (GBR) Williams Racing Team, 5-6, $4,000
(Crew: Bill Hardesty, Gerard Mitchell, Mal Parker, Mark Williams)
9. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team, 3-6
(Crew: Nils Bjerkås, Robert Skarp, Carl-Johan Uckelstam and Daniel Wallberg)
10. Cameron Dunn (NZL) Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia, 3-6
(Crew: Matteo Auguadro, Maciel Chicchetti, Marco Constant, Antar Vigna)
11. Daniel Glomb (BRA) Brazil Match Race Team, 0-10
(Crew: Eduardo Birkeland, Rene Garrafielo, Jose Paulo, Daniel Santiago)

Final Round
James Spithill (AUS) Luna Rossa Challenge, 3
Thierry Peponnet (FRA) K-Challenge, 1

Petite Final Round
Ben Ainslie (GBR) Emirates Team NZ, 2
Gavin Brady (NZL) Beau Geste Team, 0

Semifinal Round
Match 1
Thierry Peponnet (FRA) K-Challenge, 2
Gavin Brady (NZL) Beau Geste Team, 0
Match 2
James Spithill (AUS) Luna Rossa Challenge, 2
Ben Ainslie (GBR) Emirates Team NZ, 0

World Match Racing Tour Standings (after 5 of 9 stages)
1. Peter Gilmour (AUS) PST, 48 points
2. Ben Ainsle (GBR) Emirates Team New Zealand, 45 points
3. Staffan Lindberg (FIN) Alandia Sailing Team, 37 points
4. Ed Baird (USA) Alinghi, 32 points
4= Gavin Brady (NZL), 32 points
6. Peter Holmberg (ISV) Alinghi, 29 points
7. James Spithill (AUS) Luna Rossa, 25 points
7= Jesper Bank (DEN) United Internet Team Germany, 25 points
7= Dean Barker (NZL) Team NZ, 25 points

The World Tour is sanctioned by ISAF, sailing’s world governing body. BMW is a Partner of the World Tour and the Official Car. World Tour sponsors include Sebago (Rockford, Mich.), the Official Footwear Supplier, Musto (Essex, England), the Official Clothing Supplier, and Travel Places (West Sussex, England), the Official Travel Partner.

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