Oracle beats Origin in 1851 Cup at Cowes

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The Independent Online

As the British again came second to the Americans, this time re-enacting the 1851 race around the Isle of Wight, the bosses of the two rivals, Sir Keith Mills for Team Origin and Sir Russell Coutts for BMW Oracle grabbed chance to soothe the irritation under the surface of the America’s Cup.

The two met in Cowes to discuss more communication and dialogue over the organisation of the next Cup and are thought to have agreed on more of a two-way dialogue. But the Oracle boss had made the trip to Cowes to hold talks with Mark Turner and Offshore Challenges, organisers of the Extreme 40 catamaran racing. The opportunity to add Team Origin to his schedule was welcomed but had not been the principal motive for the visit to the Isle of Wight. His talks with a multihull group were interpreted as indicative.

In Italy, the boss of official challenger Mascalzone Latino, Vincenzo Onorato, was saying that rows over whether the next event would be in multihulls or monohulls were not his top priority, which was “to squeeze down the budget. Without that, it will not matter which kind of boat you choose.”

He said he wanted to apologise to Origin and the other potential challengers for not having replied formally to their worries. He thought that the re-establishment of a Challenger of Record Committee, to collect all of their input, could be a great idea, “but we must listen to everybody to consider the policy which will emerge. It is impossible to make everybody happy.

“I will think about a CORC, but what we are doing right now is still in the very early stages about how to put together a good event. We have to recover from the damage to the event and put together something spectacular.

“I am still looking for an exchange of opinions with Russell. It is not useless to meet with the others, but we know their views. The best way is to talk with Russell and then come back and propose a meeting.”

Many of the other challengers are expected to hold talks during the next Audi MedCup regatta in Cartagena, Spain, at the end of this month. The New Zealanders have already said they do not want the event to be staged in multihulls. Stephane Kandler, head of France’s All 4 One, says that delays in announcing the date, venue and boats for the next event are damaging his ability to attract the necessary sponsorship finance ahead of declaring an entry by the end of January.

Skipper Ben Ainslie had taken to fight to Oracle, had incurred a pre-start penalty, pulled far enough ahead to clear it but then suffered a further penalty and the loss of a spinnaker, which Anthony Nossiter had to go over the side and cut free with a knife.

Origin gave chase all down the south side of the island only to break the halyard which holds up the headsails and race officer Harold Bennett decided that, with the breeze piping above 20 knots, he should stop the race and then restart it at Hurst Narrows.

He gave Oracle a one-minute start, which increase to two as the yachts, escorted by a growing fleet of spectator boats, crossed the finish line off the Squadron.

All the while, Cowes Week continued with Graham and Stephen Bailey recording their sixth straight win in the Etchells as Graham’s wife Julia returned to winning form in the Dragon.