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Full marks to GBR Challenge

GBR noses ahead of the Kiwis
GBR noses ahead of the Kiwis  


AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- For the second time in two days the all-conquering NZL60 of Team New Zealand was beaten to the first mark in the America's Cup International Regatta in Auckland.

Before this regatta, NZL 60 had never been headed at any mark in any official race, thoroughly trouncing Prada 5-0 in the America's Cup Match in March 2000.

On Friday, exactly one year before the next America's Cup, Peter Gilmour on OneWorld beat the Kiwis by one minute and 38 seconds, despite taking a penalty turn at the start -- the first defeat for NZL 60.

Then on Saturday the honours went to Britain's GBR Challenge helmed by Andy Green and skippered by Ian Walker.

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Racing was delayed for several hours as the north-easterly sea breeze settled down at a light six knots.

Eventually the race committee decided to start the race in the hope of finishing the Round Robin and the final match race before Sunday's closing fleet race.

In the first pairing the British crew dominated the starting sequence, forcing Dean Barker in TNZ over the line early. At the start gun, as GBR Challenge sailed towards the weather mark with good speed, the Kiwis were left wallowing in their wake.

Even though the British had built up a lead of more than 90 seconds soon after the start of the first upwind leg, Dean Barker put the Kiwi boat into high gear.

At the weather mark the New Zealanders were sailing alongside GBR, then managed to accelerate away, crossing the line two minutes and 30 ahead.

In the second pairing, OneWorld Challenge beat Victory Challenge by one minute 32 seconds.

Sailing the only new generation America's Cup Class yacht in the regatta, Sweden's

Magnus Holmberg, was soon showing good speed.

On the upwind legs, the high pointing Frers-designed boat pulled away. But a mistake on the last leg of the course, not covering the opponent in spite of a big lead, saw the OneWorld Challenge boat find more breeze and sail into the lead.

This cost the Swedish team second place overall in its first formal America's Cup Class regatta.

All the crews feel the regatta has been a valuable preparation for the coming America's Cup.

Britain's Ian Walker said: "This week has been invaluable for us. We said at the start of the event that if we won the starts and sailed well, then we'd be really pleased. We've won every start, and sailed really well.

"Our boat is slower than the others in light winds, so the results only tell part of the story. There's a very upbeat mood on board."

As the programme of races had slipped dramatically over the week due to light weather, the committee decided to terminate the match racing at the end of the Round Robin series, using the rankings from these two rounds to determine the winners.

With five wins Team New Zealand maintains its healthy record in these Road to America's Cup regattas, taking overall honours again.

OneWorld Challenge was second with three points, Victory Challenge third with two points and GBR Challenge fourth overall with one point.

A fleet race, involving all teams was to be sailed on Sunday ending in a spectacular finish under the Auckland Harbour bridge.

Qualifying races for the America's Cup tournament begin in October with the head-to-head battle for yachting's most prestigious prize scheduled for early next year.



 
 
 
 





RELATED STORY:
• OneWorld defeats Team New Zealand
February 15, 2002

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