Emirates Team NZ extend
|Gained from two contrasting races today, a sixth and a first for Emirates Team New Zealand was enough for the Kiwi team to extend their overall lead in the Marseille Trophy regatta to 16 points going in to the final day of this Audi MedCup regatta.
Team boss, Grant Dalton confirms that their mood, even with a comfortable lead into the last day, is focused but even, just as prevails through their America’s Cup campaigns, win or lose, looking at the long game rather than any short term outward satisfaction:
“Nothing changes because you are not playing for the regatta, you are playing for the whole thing, and even if you were sailing for the regatta it any case we would just go out and sail identical to how we did today.” Dalton re-affirmed today.
After the excitement and high speed thrills of Friday’s TP52 Series' coastal race to Cassis, what started as a hot, slow and sticky day as Quantum Racing appeared to have increased the pressure on the overall leaders when they posted a third place in Race 8, three places ahead of the Kiwi team, ended with a sting in the tail.
Dean Barker (NZL) and the Kiwis bounced back with their fourth win of the regatta while their nearest rivals pulled the pin too early on their start. Jumping the gun, Quantum Racing (USA) rescued an eighth just as they did in the first race when they committed the same mistake.
But the outstanding performance of the day was that of Synergy (RUS). With Cameron Dunn (NZL) calling tactics they posted a first and second to elevate themselves to fourth in the Marseille Trophy standings.
In the GP42 Series, racing on the same race tracks in the same conditions the Italian Roma’s first and third ensure they, too, are in the box seats with what should be two final races to complete.
Quantum Racing (USA), the American team who are the Audi Med Cup champions, had looked consistently strong since they looked to have ironed out the starting line flaws which impaired their early races here. On the back of a 3,1,1,3 from four starts including a win in the 40 miles coastal race, they looked to be posting a growing threat to Emirates Team New Zealand.
In hot sunshine, the light 9-10 knots SSWly breeze seemed to promise a decent day of racing with the TP52 Series and GP42 Series fleets moved to the north Rade area for the first time, racing in the western approach to the bay of Marseille.
A long delay and move back to the Rade sud was rewarded with a quickstep second race on 16-19 knots of breeze. Emirates Team New Zealand and Synergy were able to hook into the shift and extra wind pressure on the left side of the track, with the regatta leaders leading all the way to the finish.
In the first race, with Frioul islands, now to the left of the windward-leeward race area, it seemed the left paid best for those who were smart enough and early enough to reach it. Synergy and Bigamist were among the first to break from the left, pin end of the line and were able to round the first windward turn in first and second places, while a clear air strategy, staying out of the higher risk traffic areas making a well timed starboard approach on starboard allowed Quantum Racing to round third, which they held to the finish.
Emirates Team New Zealand were often on the back foot during the first race after rounding seventh at the first turn. At the second leeward mark as they rounded overlapped with Artemis (NZL) outside them there was an incident which saw the series leaders make a subsequent penalty turn.
Dropping Valars 3 (RUS) as a result, they could only make tenth at the top mark, but with Ray Davies (NZL) and Adam Beashel (NZL) reading the better breeze that remained on the left in the folding breeze, they were able to rescue an important sixth place.
Synergy scored their first win on these waters since the Reichel Pugh design won last year in the colours of Larry Ellison as USA-17, with Bigamist 7 helping their prospects of a podium finish here in Marseille when they finished second. The Portuguese then slumped to a tenth, making the same mistake alongside Quantum when they both were OCS.
A long delay and move back to the Rade sud was rewarded with a quickstep second race in 16-19 knots of breeze. Emirates Team New Zealand and Synergy were able to hook into the shift on the left side of the track, with the regatta leaders leading all the way to the finish.
Grant Dalton commented: “It was a good day for us in the end, but at the last top mark of the first race it did not like it was going to but for us nothing changes whether it is good or bad, you don’t change things. That race just had not panned out. We had come off the line with a really good start and looked to be in good shape and the breeze went slightly right and we could not cross Bigamist and ended up in the stacks at the top mark and were a long way behind. We got lucky when the wind changed and were on the right side of that and that rescued us a little bit.
“I guess one of the things about a team like this is that is does not really go up and down in its attitude, if something comes up you put it away, come out and win the next race, that is the way it is in this team, and that is the way that a team like this operates.
“The second race was kind of a repeat of the first race on the first day. But there was quite a bias to the boat end of the line and so we would normally have tried to get in on the pin, and we were probably a little lucky that Quantum was over.
“We de-brief in two parts, the afterguard with the coach, and then all together as a manoeuvres, and there was nothing to come from that today, it was all pretty clean.”
Synergy's Cameron Dunn added: “I was really disappointed with yesterday even though we got a fourth which was a really good result, but I personally really screwed it up on the upwind. From fighting for first and second to being in fifth, that was disappointing. So I was very determined to come out today and have a good day.
"The plan that we thought was going to happen worked out perfectly and we managed to get two good lanes off the start line and the boat was going really nicely. And I made a conscious effort to keep everything really calm. It was one of those days when what we thought was going to happen, happened.
“We are chipping away at the boat handling and these things, but the hardest part is getting the guys comfortable racing at the top of the fleet when there is more pressure on racing against a Quantum or a Team New Zealand or an Artemis. We are getting there and are obviously over the moon with today.
“Having Chris Main is also great. He works hard at getting the boat going fast all the time and he talks to Sergei all the time and I can just concentrate on my job.”
Airis wins the day with 1-2
The first GP42 Series race today was sailed in what appeared to be a building seabreeze. The two Italian entries, Roma and Airis, led the charge to the left side of the windward leg in search of more pressure, leading the pack around the top mark and through most of the race. But the breeze started to lighten down to 6-8 knots on the final run to the finish.
As the breeze dropped it was interesting to see the fleet break off into pairs: Roma gybing to cover Airis for the win, Islas Canarias Puerto Calero valiantly trying to tangle up with Caser–Endesa, but unable to get passed for third, and Turismo Madrid first passing, but then getting passed, by the Japanese on Swing, to fall into last.
For the second race of the day, the race course area was relocated to the east and the sea breeze once again freshened to 12-17 knots. Off the start, most of the class kept together in an incredibly tight cluster on the first weather leg, heading off to the left side in search of more pressure and a left shift. This was indeed one tight fur ball, as all four boats in this group were already displaying their protest flags just minutes into the race.
Once again, the competitive horns came out, and four teams got entangled so much with each other that Airis, who had followed the pack around the top mark and gybed away early to avoid the fray, came out of the left like a vision, all-white kite backlit in the dying light, on right-of-way starboard tack, and charging fast at the pack just 50 metres from the finish.
Roma, which had emerged from the fray in front, had to gybe to avoid Airis, but not without threatening to take her breeze, so Airis helmsman Cameron Appleton simply gybed away to port to the favored end of the finish line to take the win by a length.
While the order in the standings has remained unchanged, and Roma has what would seem like a comfortable lead, the Series points have tightened a bit so that it’s all to play for in tomorrow’s two remaining races of the series.