Saturday, March 13, 2010

Emirates Team NZ Enjoys Unbroken Record at LV Trophy

[Source: Louis Vuitton Trophy] Brisk breezes and high-pressure competition delivered a basket of surprises and some painful losses during the fourth day of competition for the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Auckland.

After a day lost to heavy, gusty winds, the moderate to fresh conditions today were still sufficient to test the eight international teams that took turns in match racing on the Waitemata Harbour on the Emirates Team New Zealand boats NZL84 and NZL92.

In the second race, a collision between Britain’s TEAMORIGIN and the French team ALEPH earned the French boat a penalty, plus the loss of a point. Then in race three, Sweden’s Artemis conceded a healthy lead over Italy’s Azzurra when the spinnaker pole went over the side and they went trawling with the spinnaker.

With three days remaining in the round robin, the host Emirates Team New Zealand has a perfect record after a convincing win today over the German/French boat All4One. Azzurra, the young Italian team that won the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice is in second place with a 3-1 score. The two teams will meet in the second race tomorrow.

Currently four teams are in equal third place with two wins and two losses. They are All4One, sailing under the German and French flags, Artemis, Mascalzone Latino Audi from Italy and TEAMORIGIN. The tie between Artemis and ML Audi will be decided tomorrow in the fourth race.

Conditions on the Waitemata Harbour were perfect for racing with bright sunshine, blue skies and a 12-knot breeze that built in the afternoon, bringing with it some clouds and a brief shower. Crowds ashore watched racing on the jumbo screen in the Louis Vuitton Race Village in the Viaduct Basin’s Market Square but the best viewing was from the grassy slopes of North Head.

Race One: Emirates Team New Zealand def. All4One, 00:26 – ETNZ skipper/helmsman Dean Barker took the host team to a 4-0 record, never really threatened by the German/French boat All4One after a tense, scrappy pre-start duel. Sébastien Col at the wheel of All4One was pushing the Kiwi boat in the last seconds as they came to the line but the Kiwis pulled off a down-speed tack and split away on port as Col was forced to tack and follow. The French helmsman pressed hard on the first leg but New Zealand exploited the dominance of the right side and maintained a comfortable lead. “The race was lost at the start when we left the overlap a little bit too late,” said Jochen Schümann, skipper and tactician for All4One. “They were in control at all times. It looked good for us at times but never good enough that we could sail around them.”

Emirates Team NZ are unstoppable. They break their spinnaker pole and Azzurra sails to victory. Auckland, 13 March 2010. Photo copyright Chris Cameron / Emirates Team NZ

Emirates Team NZ are unstoppable. They break their spinnaker pole and Azzurra sails to victory. Auckland, 13 March 2010. Photo copyright Chris Cameron / Emirates Team NZ

Race Two: TEAMORIGIN def. ALEPH, 02:11 – With the breeze up to 17 knots the race began with a bang in the pre-start as the bow of TEAMORIGIN slammed into the stern scoop of NZL 84, crewed by ALEPH. There was damage to both boats and the French boat, steered by Bertrand Pacé, was penalised under Rule 16 for altering course. The umpires reported that as the boats turned out of the dialup, Ben Ainslie steering the British boat was keeping clear of ALEPH but the French boat turned away, causing the contact. Matt Cornwall mid-bowman on TEAMORIGIN said: “Obviously the French think we fouled them. Question is whether they swung their transom and prevented us from getting our bow down in time to avoid their transom. They did close the gap on us and didn’t give us room to keep clear.” In addition to the penalty, ALEPH was docked one point for hard contact which the team said it will appeal to the jury. At the gun, Pacé started to leeward of Ainslie. The British boat consolidated an early advantage to control for the rest of the race as the breeze built to over 20 knots. The French enjoyed a great last leg and came storming into the finish only two boat lengths behind TEAMORIGIN.

Team Origin score a much-needed victory against Aleph. Auckland, 13 March 2010. Photo copyright Ian Roman / Team Origin

Race Three: Azzurra def. Artemis, Ret. – Terry Hutchinson steering the Swedish team Artemis, with skipper/tactician Paul Cayard calling the shots, started strongly in their race against the Italian boat Azzurra. The Swedish boat chased the Italians deep into the start box before it breaking clear, tacking and starting on starboard with speed. Francesco Bruni had a clean start on starboard at midline but Hutchinson enjoyed an early lead that he smartly leveraged into a 44 second lead at the weather mark. But only for seconds. As Artemis bore off and set up for a spinnaker hoist, the pole end went over the side, was dragged aft and the pole broke around the shrouds as the spinnaker went under the boat. Game over. “The jammer for the pole slipped,” Hutchinson reported. “Down the pole came and went in the water and that was all she wrote. The sheet went under the boat and the spinnaker went under the rudder. It’s disappointing but we’ll debrief it and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes twice.”

It could have been an excellent day for Artemis, until they broke their spinnaker pole. Auckland, 13 March 2010. Photo copyright Sander van der Borch / Artemis

Race Four: Mascalzone Latino Audi def. Synergy Russian Sailing Team 00:19 – After a pause for repairs, there was plenty of energy from Poland’s Karol Jablonski, steering the Russian boat, and Kiwi Gavin Brady at the helm of ML Audi Team. Synergy had the advantaged starboard entry but chose to duck below the Italians. It the hotly-contested manoeuvres that followed, with two green flags from the umpires, Brady drove Jablonski above the line. Despite that, the Russians broke clear and crossed the Italians on the first tack. When Jablonski conceded the right to Brady, the Italian boat took the lead and held it. Even a botched spinnaker takedown when the Italians gift-wrapped their boat’s bow with a messy late takedown was not enough to give the Russians a chance.

Provisional leaderboard after Flight Four:
1. Emirates Team New Zealand, 4-0, 4 pts
2. Azzurra, 3-1, 3 pts
=3. All4One, 2-2, 2 pts
=3. Artemis, 2-2, 2 pts
=3. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 2-2, 2 pts
=3. TEAMORIGIN, 2-2, 2 pts
7. ALEPH Sailing Team, 1-3, 0 pts *
8. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 0-4, 0 pts

* Penalty point deducted

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