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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Shosholoza down but not out in Louis Vuitton Cup

Wednesday was a tough day for South African sailing enthusiasts. . .

Shosholoza faced the behemouth BMW Oracle in their first match race, but refused to be intimidated by the American boat's gargantuan budget and vastly experienced crew. Instead they started evenly and Shosholoza lead for over half the race, constantly putting pressure on the American boat to stay with them.

As they started the second lap of the race course, the boats split----one to the left, one to the right side of the course. No one could see who had the advantage, and all had to wait until they came back together to see which side of the course paid off. Unfortunately for Shosholoza, BWM Oracle nudged ahead during their split. . .and with the American's superior boat and racing experience, that was all they needed to hang on for the win.

In their second race against #2 Luna Rossa, Shosholoza never lead outright but stayed with the Italian boat all the way around the race course. They did not have speed to pull even and head, though, and finished just off the pace in what a solid showing by them.

It is tempting at this point to give in and congratulate Shosholoza on a job well done, and resign ourselves to the fact that they will not make the semi-finals. After all, they have far exceeded everyone's expectations of their performance. They have learned from all of their mistakes along the way, and proved that, even given an inferior boat compared to the larger syndicates, they can mix it up and dice for the win in any given race.

Wouldn't it be easy to finish the last few races with a couple of wins, end in the middle of the pack, take stock of a great campaign, and pack it in for the next America's Cup?

It would be easy. But we know a lot of these guys on the boat, and they are true competitors and will continue to fight for every point. Their work is cut out for them, and as usual they have left little room for error. However a spot in the semis is not out of the question yet.

Based on the current standings, Shosholoza must score at least four more wins to even think about the semis, but they are still to race against three of the bottom feeders and the remaining middle competitors.

Listen to the live race radio here---racing is scheduled to start mid-afternoon in Spain.

Good luck Shosholoza!

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