AmericaOne Steinlager/Line 7Chronicles:
Another Hard Fought Battle
Daily Report - March 25, 2000-
Another sunny day in Auckland, with a cool 15 knot Southerly wind. Our first goal of the day was to win the two remaining round-robin races and try to earn a spot in the semi-finals. Race 1 was against Swede Lars Nordbjerg. Gavin got us off the line in good shape and in the shifty conditions we were much faster and smoother and stretched out to a big lead at the finish.
That left us with one race to ensure a place in the semis. We were up against James Spithill, of America's Cup fame, at 19 being the youngest skipper in the history of the event. Some regarded his prestart skills as the best in the Louis Vuitton Cup series, but today Gavin got the better of him off the line and although the Australian team stayed very close, we were able to defend a 20 second lead around the course.
Cameron Appleton, early leader in the round robins, dropped a race this morning which meant that the AmericaOne team had qualified first in our group, with Englishman Andy Green missing out on a semi-final spot. We were very happy with our result. We hadn't done any practice for this event and all of our focus with AmericaOne had taken us away from the match race circuit. However, Paul Cayard and Gavin Brady are amongst the top match race helmsmen in the world and so the practice we did do with AmericaOne was always high quality. Most of the other America's Cup teams here struggled. Peter Gilmour from Nippon was an uncharacteristic 8th. Peter Holmberg from Stars and Stripes finished 7th.
However, Bertrand Pace from Le defi Francais became our semi-final opponent. In the first race, we were penalised at the very first entry, as Pace turned up very slowly on port and we were unable to avoid contact. this was a bad way to start the semis. Gavin got us a good position off the line, but Pace was very close to leeward. As we started rolling over him he luffed preety hard, making contact with us once again. The umpires decided against us again, so this penalty had to be taken immediately. Now we were behind. But this team never gives up, and by the final leg we were charging down towards the line very close together. about 15 gybes had put us in a strong postion to hold Pace out, but he chose to foul instead. he was penalised 15 seconds from the line (which offsset our foul) and as we crossed we were convinced our spinnaker was first. Race committee gave the race to Pace by "less than a second", much to the amazement of some onlookers (and the A1 team !).
In race two a carbon-copy entry resulted in a penalty for Pace. We stretched big time and lead by a comfortable margin at the finish. Pace won the start in the third race and although we fought very hard, we finished less than a boatlength behind at the finish. Now we had to win. Once again the prestart was aggressive and the umpires called a foul on Pace. Unfortunately for us, a few seconds later we made contact with the committee boat and equalised the penalty count. Another really hard fought battle unsued, but again the A1 team trailed at the finish by less then a boatlength. Pace won the semi 3-1 but we felt we had done a very good job together and it could have gone either way at any time. The spectators loved the show.
In the other semi, Cameron Appleton shocked everyone by beating Dean Barker 3-0. Appleton goes to the final and we race Barker for third place.
More on that tomorrow.
AmericaOne Sailing Team
For additional information on AmericaOne, contact:
Gina von Esmarch
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