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Americas Cup Jubilee - Final Day

by Louis Vuitton Media Centre 26 Aug 2001 07:48 BST

Already the holders of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the Prada Challenge added the Louis Vuitton Trophy to its collection after beating the GBR Challenge by just six seconds in the final of the America's Cup Class today in Cowes.

The racing by the modern representatives at the America's Cup Jubilee turned out to be closer and more exciting than anyone dared to expect, but in the end, the experience of the Italians won out over the exuberance of the young British team.

The GBR Challenge will be heartened by their performance this week, and the race on Saturday will do nothing to discourage them. Starting helmsman Andy Green did a good job on the start, as he threw a penalty onto Luna Rossa skipper Francesco de Angelis who gybed too close to the British boat. Green went on to win the right side of the starting line, and put Luna Rossa skipper Francesco de Angelis in a position where he had to tack at the gun, slowing the boat as the race began.

Sailing manager Ian Walker took over the helm from there, and led both boats on a long beat out to the right side of the course. GBR-52 held a handy lead at the weather mark, and although Luna Rossa showed better pace and closed up over most of the downwind leg, two poor gybes on the Italian boat, followed by a torn spinnaker, allowed Walker to round the leeward mark with nearly a four boatlength lead.

The British team maintained that lead on the beat, and looked fairly secure rounding the mark but on the spinnaker hoist, the sail burst as it filled in the breeze, and suddenly, the race was in jeopardy. As the GBR-52 crew struggled to haul in the torn sail and replace it with a new one, Luna Rossa rounded, executed a clean hoist and gybed off to the favoured side of the course.

The boats split, with Luna Rossa on the right side of GBR-52, as the boats steamed down to the finishing line. Both skippers called for a gybe simultaneously, and as the boats converged, it was clear that Luna Rossa was in the lead. As they neared the finishing line, the Italians hoised a jib, readying to complete their penalty turn. With GBR-52 hurtling toward them, the Luna Rossa crew executed a flawless spinnaker drop, turned towards the wind and tacked through, crossing the line just half a boat length ahead of the charging Britons.

"I was really disappointed," Walker admitted after the race. "I'm probably as disappointed as I've ever been in a sailboat. But I'll sleep on it, and I've got a feeling this is part of the learning curve. We're still new at this and I have a feeling this won't be the last time we have a tough ending."

"It's always difficult to sail and race here," said Luna Rossa skipper Francesco de Angelis. "But we learn something every time we go out and race, and we're really happy we won."

In the petit-final, Team New Zealand beat the second British entry GBR-41 fairly convincingly. British helmsman Andy Beadsworth was again strong in the pre-start, but simply couldn't match the speed of NZL-32.

"We've had a great deal of fun and enjoyed some really good racing," Tom Schnackenberg, the head of the Team New Zealand programme. "On the other hand, the conditions here are very different to those in Auckland so any lessons learned will only be very general. But it's been a fantastic week."

Weather was the major factor for the final day of the Jubilee. A total lack of wind on the Royal Yacht Squadron start line led the Race Committee to abandon racing for all of the Vintage, Classic and Spirit of Tradition boats and the modern ocean racers taking part in the Jubilee.

The regatta came to an end for a major portion of the most incredible collection of sailing craft ever gathered in one place, not with a last glorious race, but with an informal parade of sail. Watched by a huge spectator crowd ashore, many contestants stayed on the water for the warm sunny afternoon and made the most of a lively southeasterly that sprang up after the three cannon shots signaling the end of racing.

Conditions proved more fortunate for racing on the smaller and more manageable courses for the America's Cup Class and the Prada International 12-Metre Class World Championships, where patience was finally rewarded with sparkling sailing conditions.

On the Prada 12-Metre course, starting line collisions in two classes forced the withdrawal of four boats, including Intrepid, the last of the wooden Twelves, which successfully defended the America's Cup in 1967 and 1970. No one was hurt in either collision.

In the Modern 12-Metre Class, Intrepid steered by John Curtin collided head on with Enterprise, steered by J. F. Jouffray, causing extensive damage to the bows of both boats. Intrepid was the port tack boat and was required to steer clear of Enterprise.

"The two boats were reaching towards each other on opposite tacks with a closing speed of close to 20 knots," said one spectator. "It was a classic example of two pedestrians approaching on a sidwalk and each doing sideways shuffles into each other's paths."

The front two feet of Intrepid's bow was smashed in while Intrepid's aluminium plating was dented and ripped at the bow, with oil-canning impact damage all the way down the port side to the chainplates.

The other accident occurred in the Classic 12-Metre Class when Trivia, steered by Achim Griese attempted to tack clear of Northern Light, which was luffing on the start line just before the gun. Trivia's bow rode up squarely on the Northern Light's port rail, smashing the port coffeegrinder pedestal off its mount.

"It was 100 per cent my fault," said Griese. "I was attempting to tack clear. I only hope that they are able to repair the damage so that Northern Light can compete at the Porto Cervo regatta in two weeks time."

None of the on-the-water drama concerned America's Cup two-time winner Russell Coutts who, with the Grand Prix Class championship secure with a race in hand, headed for the golf links with his Swiss Team Alinghi teammates, leaving their class winner South Australia tied to the dock.

"I've never seen Russell more on his game," said Marblehead sailmaker Robbie Doyle, who was campaigning Valiant in the Modern Class. "He and his crew tuned and practiced with South Australia before the Jubilee and achieved more in two weeks than any average group of professionals would have in one year.

Team New Zealand's Cameron Appleton sailed Kiwi Magic into first place for the day and took second place for the week, while Australian America's Cup winner Australia II, steered by John Bertrand and Skip Lissiman finished third overall.

It was a nostalgic day for Australia II. Today was her last race, and "the little white pointer" left the dock to cheers and applause from pierside spectators. She returned after racing, flying her famous Boxing Kangaroo battle flag plus a giant Australian flag while supporters toasted her with copies quantities of Australian wine. Although Australia II is destined for retirement in a new Marine Museum in her homeport of Fremantle, there is now talk of building a replica for future 12-Metre events and racing.

Ernest Jacquet's Freedom, the 1980 America's Cup winner, added another victory today to her almost perfect score to win the Modern 12-Metre Class. In the Classic 12-Metre Class, Jacques Fauroux's former British America's Cup challenger Sovereign scored her second first place running to win the class, with Nyala owned by Patrizio Bertelli of the Prada Challenge taking second place.

Full results are available on the America's Cup Jubilee web site.

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