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Steinlager Line 7 Cup: A Mixed Bag Day For AmericaOne

Contenders from five current America's Cup teams, plus three other past Cup skippers are racing in Auckland, NZ, this week in the Steinlager Line 7 Cup match racing series. The ten-boat fleet comprises the strongest field of Cup players yet to be seen in the city where the Cup will be defended in a few short months. AmericaOne 's Morgan Trubovitch reports on the latest sailing action from the Auckland waterfront:

Sailing News: March 25, 1999

Day Two was a mixed bag for the AmericaOne crew. After a six-race day we had a tally of 4 wins and 2 losses. This was enough to keep us tied for first place with Dean Barker of New Zealand with 10 wins total.

The day was sailed with overcast skies and a 10-18 knot easterly. With 18 knots being the cut-off between the genoa and smaller jib, the racing was often at the top end of the range for the genoas, resulting in close, physical races.

In Race One, AmericaOne met Chris Dickson, a sailor who dominated the match race scene in the '80s and who has won the World Championship of Match Race Sailing three times. We controlled the prestart in this match and mid way in the start Dickson tried to swing his bow past our stern, but made contact with our pushpit (narrowly missing our "onboard observer" who stands precariously on the sterns of each boat, signalling overlaps to the umpires). Dickson received a penalty for the incident and we sealed the deal at the start, leading off the line and around the course.

Race Two was against Dean Barker, who was tied with us for first after yesterday's racing. In a start affected once again by lots of current, Paul did a nice job to give us a very handy lead off the line and we won comfortably. That was the end of the first Round Robin. For the second round robin we were to race in reverse order, which meant we had Barker again.

Race Three. Up against Barker again, this time he had the starboard entry and used it well to force us to trail him off the line. We stayed very close all the way around the course, difficult in these conditions, and actually worked ourselves into an attacking position at the top mark for the last time. As we approached the mark Barker tacked onto Port to round the mark, but hadn't counted on us being close enough to have a go at him. As the boats came together it was clear that there was going to be a collision and with us holding right of way Barker would have been penalised. To prevent the collision and damage we bore away suddenly, only to have the incident green-flagged by the umpires ("green flag" means no penalty imposed on either boat). We were close on the run but unable to pass.

Race Four was again against Dickson. We started even on the line but tacked away to the right side of the course, expecting to have the big advantage (current relief) that all the boats had had in previous races on the right side. To our horror the left paid (where Dickson had gone) and he crossed four lengths ahead at the top mark. We fought hard but we unable to pass.

Race Five came after two losses, so we were pretty fired up. We raced Dean Salthouse and after an even start we managed to pull ahead with better speed and handling. In the end a fairly comfortable win.

The last race of the day was against Chris Law of the UK. After both boats recieved a penalty in the early part of the start (they offset each other), we were judged to have fouled him again later in the prestart. So, as we left the line we were owing a penalty (to be taken any time before finishing). We tried as hard as possible to extend our lead as the race went on, but as we rounded the final top mark we didn't quite have enough. As we sailed down the last leg we seemed to stretch a little, and suddenly as we approached the line Paul said "we might just have enough here, let's have a go". The genoa went up as we approached the finish line. We dropped the spinnaker as fast as possible and began our penalty circle right on the line. After the circle we headed for the line, with Law rumbling down with much more speed. The gun went and the Race Committee judged us to be the winners by one metre!

A good way to finsh the day. Five more races tomorrow to finish Round Robin 2 and decide the four semi-finalists.

Morgan Trubovitch

For more about this major match race series go to the Steinlager Line Seven Cup official web site. Also visit the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron site. For more in this series of reports, look at AmericaOne's Grand Prix Sailing News page.


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