Mon, Feb 02, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Briton Ben Ainslie steers Team Origin to win over Alinghi


Alinghi, left, competes against Team Origin on day 3 of the Pacific Series round-robin races in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday.


Britain’s Team Origin beat America’s Cup-holder Alinghi by 36 seconds on the third day of the Pacific Series sailing regatta yesterday, making an immediate mark on the 10-team event and stamping itself a team to watch in future Cups.

With Olympic yachting gold medalist Ben Ainslie at the helm, Origin gained control of yesterday’s race in the pre-start and established a lead that it held on all four legs of the windward-leeward circuit.

Alinghi’s American helmsman Ed Baird seemed in control as the teams approached the start line on port tack but Ainslie, the Olympic Finn class champion, pulled off an aggressive move, luffing the Swiss yacht and forcing it across the start line a second early.

The Cup-holder was forced to make a complete turn to recross the line and Team Origin pulled away to lead by more than a minute at the top mark. Though its lead was cut to 41 seconds at the leeward mark and to 36 seconds when the yachts rounded the top mark for a second time, Ainslie kept control of the race to give his team a significant victory.

Damiani Italia Challenge beat France’s Pataugas K-Challenge by 45 seconds for their second win of the regatta.

Both teams started at speed near the middle of the start line, but the Italian team was in the safe leeward position, forcing their opponents away early in the leg and rounding the top mark with a 10 second lead.

BMW Oracle Racing of the US controlled its match against the China Team from the pre-start, where China was penalized for jibbing too close to the Americans. The fourth match between Italy’s Luna Rossa and Team Shosholoza of South Africa was postponed because of strong winds.

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