AmericaOne Report



Innovision Rumbles to Another Win

VALENCIA, Spain-Hans Eekhof's Innovision 7, fresh off a win at the IMS Europeans last month, continued its roll through the European IMS circuit over the weekend with a win at the inaugural IMS 50-foot World Championships in Valencia, Spain.

Twelve teams from five nations competed, representing Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Greece, and New Zealand. Innovision 7 (J/V 50) was sailing under the banner of New Zealand, because more than 50 percent of its crew carried passports from that country.

The usual suspects were there, all of them vying for the title, with Innovision serving as the pre-regatta favorite. But they were up against BravaQ8, the highly competitive Farr 49 sailed by Flavio Favini. Paul Cayard was calling tactics, and the crew consisted of sailors from both Prada and Team New Zealand. Merit Cup, another Farr 49 hailing from Italy, was skippered by Vasco Vascotto with Team New Zealand afterguard Murray Jones and Peter Evans behind him.

While Merit Cup and Brava were Innovision's strongest rivals, all the teams were equally strong. Teams from Spain represented half the fleet, and included all the highly successful 50 footers of the last few years. The ex-Numbers, renamed Zurich, the ex-Beau Geste, renamed Costa Azahar, and the ex-Flash Gordon renamed Azur de Puig were strong from start to finish.

Having learned from its performance at the Europeans (see Grand Prix Sailor, No. 25), Innovision opted to stay with its inline mast and genoa configuration, and again, it served as scratch boat because of its longer length and greater sail area. However, the fleet was always tightly packed, and Innovision was often able to use its speed edge to break free of many incidents. It was often a quarter of a boatlength ahead of a five-boat starboard-tack line-up at the weather mark and able to extend its lead. Brava, on the other hand, often had to dip several boats and consequently lost many opportunities to correct out over Innovision.

That was the key to Innovision's victory: keeping clear of the fleet and sailing their own race while the majority of the fleet encountered significant pile-ups. Innovision also avoided penalties and penalty turns while Brava was forced into a half-dozen infractions. Brava's foul trouble allowed Merit Cup to earn second place overall.

One interesting and successful feature of the event was the introduction of on-the-water umpires and a procedure that closely followed match racing. Each team carried a Y-flag, which it used to request an umpire decision. A green flag displayed by the umpires meant "play on," but a yellow flag meant an immediate 360-degree-penalty turn. If a team acknowledged fault before the umpires penalized them, they could do a 270-degree-turn instead. If there was damage, the umpires flew a red flag, which meant that there would be a hearing after the race.

After nine inshore races and one 135-nautical mile distance race, the final top-five standings were:
1. Innovision 7 (NZL) (30)
2. Merit Cup (ITA) (40.75)
3. Azur de Puig (ESP) 45.75
4. Brava Q8 (ITA) (46.75)
5. Okyalos (GRE) (62).


About AmericaOne

AmericaOne was the USA's leading challenger for the America's Cup 2000. The team competed in Auckland, New Zealand for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the right to challenge New Zealand for the America's Cup in February 2000. AmericaOne built two boats based on four years of technology development and innovation. Top level technology partners are Hewlett-Packard Company, Network Solutions, Telcordia Technologies, SAIC, Ford Motor Company/Visteon and United Technologies Corp. AmericaOne represents San Francisco's St. Francis Yacht Club.

For further additional information on AmericaOne, please contact:

Gina von Esmarch
Phone: (415) 474-3425
Fax: (415) 474-3571

Jennifer McHugh
Phone: (415) 474-3425
Fax: (415) 474-3571