|Semi final repechage - 20-28 December|
|Best of seven||Oracle BMW||OneWorld*|
After a thrilling downwind battle all the way to the finish line, Oracle BMW Racing took its second win in succession in the Louis Vuitton Cup semi-final repechage today. Crossing the line just 3 seconds ahead of OneWorld, USA-76 set a new regatta record for the closest victory so far.
In the process, the San Francisco-based team gained the halfway mark in its quest to win the best-of-seven series. OneWorld, still in negative points because of an Arbitration Panel penalty, has to win five races to make the final, whereas Oracle BMW Racing now needs two more victories to advance.
Having trailed most of the way round the race track, OneWorld made an extraordinary last-gasp attack from behind to close the gap and then briefly take the lead. Patience and cool heads on Oracle BMW Racing paid off and, as the yachts gybed for the finish line, USA-76 was perfectly positioned to blanket OneWorld's breeze and claim its narrowest of victories.
"Our hearts were in our mouths at the finish," said USA-76 afterguardsman Ian Burns. "We have practised that a few hundred times. I think it might have paid off at last."
Racing took place in excellent conditions on the Hauraki Gulf, with the breeze shifting between south and southwest and varying in strength from 12 to 18 knots.
At the start, Peter Holmberg steered USA-76 across the line to leeward and ahead of USA-67, but the OneWorld yacht, with James Spithill at the helm, had the right hand advantage. Initially, it seemed the right was king and OneWorld gained a small lead. But, the Oracle BMW Racing team kept faith with the left to be rewarded with a big shift that swept USA-76 into the lead.
Today's win was the seventh in a row by USA-76 over USA-67 since the Louis Vuitton Cup regatta began in October.
See page 2 for a race report...