Great racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup

(See the introductory post for background)

I didn’t write a post about the end of the 2nd round robins for the LVC because I was dissappointed.  Oracle, the lone American boat, had been in 1st place for the entire 1st and 2nd round robins until the last day when a painful loss to Team New Zealand (TNZ) saw TNZ leapfrog Oracle by one point.  That was important because it allowed TNZ to choose their opponent for the semi-finals (top 4 boats) and they naturally picked the 4th place boat, forcing Oracle to race the 3rd place, but far more dangerous Italian team called Luna Rossa.

The semi-finals started yesterday (they’re actually on live TV on “Versus” which is formerly OLN and is channel 608 on DirecTV… albeit at 5:30 AM PDT).  I didn’t post yesterday because Oracle got crushed by Luna Rossa (LR).  It was a horrible race where Oracle split from their competition at all the wrong times and stayed close at all the wrong times.  The only good news was that Oracle looked blazing fast downwind and managed to erase the big lead LR built on both windward legs.  Unfortunately, Oracle ran out of room on both downwind legs and couldn’t pull off the pass either time, losing by over a minute on the final run (the race consists of 2 upwind and 2 downwind legs).

So this morning I wake up at 5:30 to get my daily Oracle/LVC fix and the start of the race goes 10 times worse than Monday.  For the Cal Bear fans, imagine if last season the Bears in their 2nd game, after the humiliating Tennessee loss, got pummled in the 1st quarter by Minnesota.  Imagine being down 24-0 going into the 2nd quarter.  You’re thinking, “what they HECK happened to my team!?!  We were supposed to be good!”  That’s how bad it was.  The pre-start (the equivalent of the 1st quarter) went horribly wrong with LR able to nearly lockout Oracle from starting at all.  Heroics managed to get them out of the jam, but they started over 9 seconds back, an absolute eternity for a start and giving LR all kinds of opportunities to extend their lead on the 1st upwind leg, extending to a mindblowing 58 second lead at the windward mark.

Yes it was bleak.  It was looking for sure like they’d be down 0-2 in the best of 9 series and without a prayer unless they somehow got their act in gear.

Now imagine that after a middling 2nd quarter, the halftime score being 31-7, the Bears charge back in the 3rd quarter with 21 points to get to a 3-point deficit 31-28 before Minnesota scores another touchdown to stretch the lead to 38-28.  Well, that’s about what happened, as Oracle was able to make up most of the 58 second deficit they had dug themselves on the first leg of the race downwind.  Yet again they showed great speed downwind.  Yet unlike the Tennessee, er the 1st race on Monday, they mananged to stay tight with LR on the following upwind leg setting up a crucial yet still unlikely opportunity for a pass on the final downwind leg.

And they pulled it off.  Man is Oracle fast downwind.  They waited for the right opportunity to split away from LR and then just flew right by them.  It was a very impressive display of both tactics and boat speed.

Now the series is inexplicably tied 1-1 despite seeming down and out just an hour earlier.  The momentum is squarely in the US’s corner.  I’m sure their downwind speed has LR as nervous and Texas A&M was of DeSean Jackson and I wouldn’t be surprised to see LR make the kind of mistakes that nervous teams make.  What an awesome turn of events.

I expect to see all of you in front of your TV’s tomorrow at 5:30 AM to catch the next installment. ;-)

Go Oracle and the USofA!

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