First point for TeamOrigin
TeamOrigin showed their form this morning with a victory over the French/German All4One team on day two of the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland. The Brits won the start and went on to use the shifts and extend their lead to win by an impressive 1 minute and 33 seconds.
A short delay to today’s racing allowed the wind to settle in from the southwest and be blowing at 7 knots at the time of the first start. The first warning signal was fired at 1245 lining up TeamOrigin with All4One. A still building breeze and an incoming tide made for challenging conditions, where neither the wind nor the tidal choice was clear. From a spectator’s point of view however it was perfect as the course was laid within the confines of the Waitemata Harbour and Auckland City’s waterfront, race fans on the Okahu Bay waterfront to the South and the Devonport waterfront to the North listening to the FM radio commentary had front row seats.
Ben Ainslie controlled the start beautifully leading All4One into the start box, judging perfectly the return and final approach to the start line to win the right hand side of the course in spite of the Franco/German team’s posturing in the final countdown. The right side of the course proved to be strongly favoured with a stronger tide in the deeper water, something that then put the British boat in a position to benefit first from the wind oscillations before its opponent could get to them. The pair were split for most of the first beat converging only twice before TeamOrigin rounded the first mark with a healthy 26 second lead.
At the first mark, All4one did a gybe set to get to shallower water and less adverse tide and TeamOrigin quickly gybed to cover. The pair worked hard on the downwind leg with the trailing boat attempting to cast some wind shadow on TeamOrigin, initially making some inroads but with both teams very polished with their manoeuvres downwind, it was all about not making any small mistakes. At the approach to the gate ALL4ONE may have gybed a little late allowing the leading boat to gain some more ground to start the second lap with a lead of 24 seconds – all still very close.
Up the second beat however, the British boat kept to the right side and played the shifts with precision. At the first cross TeamOrigin was ahead by 80m and seemed to be totally in phase, extending in the building breeze and shifty conditions. At the approach to the second windward mark, tactician Iain Percy, talked of right hand windshifts for the last downwind leg.
TeamOrigin made impressive gains down the final leg building the lead to almost 320m (13 boat lengths) and took the race by 1 minute 33 seconds/320m, the biggest winning margin of the regatta so far.
Percy commented after the race, “We had a great start, Ben and the boys gave us a nice advantage off the line and picked the right side of the first beat. Despite being in the lead throughout the race, it was a scary one as we were seeing 30-40 degree wind shifts. We kept our cool and sailed a good race, in those conditions it is easier from the front!”
Jochen Schumann, Skipper of the French/German All4One team added: “We sailed a good race but were behind from the start which was critical. We tried to stay close playing the shifts but really the race ended at the start. TEAMORIGIN sailed really well and they deserved the win.”
Helmsman Sebastian Col added: TeamOrigin is a serious opponent. We had a very nice race with close situations, particularly on the start. They took some risks and it paid back for them because they took the right side of the race course and they managed to keep control. On our side, we managed to sail quite well behind them, with nice manoeuvres and keeping ourselves close to them, except on the last leg downwind where we tried something to come back. It didn't really work, but we didn't have much to lose trying at this stage of the race. The level of the competition is very high here. We have one win and one loss for the moment on our scoreboard, but we sailed well today with consistency, without making any big mistake. We just have some small details to work on for the rest of the competition."
There was drama in the following race when Gavin Brady and his largely international team on Mascalzone Latino Audi took the fight to host Emirates Team New Zealand only to lose after a gear failure.
Brady, with American tactician Morgan Larson calling the shots, pulled off a risky pre-start strategy against skipper Dean Barker on the New Zealand boat, pushing ETNZ deep into the start box after a dialup but breaking clear with immaculate timing to grab the start he wanted – a port tack cross at speed, right at the committee boat.
Minutes later as they came back together, Brady had a two boat-length advantage that he parlayed into a 22 second lead at the first weather mark. Down the run, the New Zealanders split away and Brady let them go, only to concede the right side of the course when they rounded opposite gates starting the second beat.
Brady’s lead had evaporated but the fight had just started. Half way up the weather leg Mascalzone barely had her nose in front as they sailed into a building breeze when the jib came crashing down. “That was our race to win,” said Brady. “And a tough way to lose!”
Summary and deltas
Race One: TEAMORIGIN def. All4One, 01:33 – Britain’s TEAMORIGIN, skippered and steered by Ben Ainslie, prevailed in the pre-start to lead Sébastien Col at the wheel of All4One at the gun with a 16-metre margin. Sailing at speed on port tack, the British boat started right at the committee boat while their adversary tacked off to starboard behind them. When they converged at the first cross, Ainslie had converted his lead in the shifty breeze to 70 metres. The German/French boat stayed relatively close until the second weather mark but lost a minute on the last run.
Race Two: Emirates Team New Zealand def. Mascalzone Latino Audi, 4:43 – Gavin Brady, the Kiwi skipper of Italy’s Mascalzone Latino Audi Team took the fight to the home team, overcoming Dean Barker’s starboard entry advantage. Brady came out unscathed in several close pre-start encounters to win the start and the right side of the course. With the breeze up to 11 knots, Brady led Barker by a boat length at the first cross. The visiting team exploited the power of the right to lead at the top mark by a boat length and then extend on the run. Barker fought back, closing down to eight seconds at the leeward mark and getting out to the right. After two very close tacks, the visitors were fighting to maintain a safe leeward berth on starboard when a halyard clip failed and Brady’s hopes crashed, along with the jib.
Race Three: Azzurra def. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 00:41 – The Russian boat steered by Karol Jablonski secured a safe leeward as the boats started, forcing Francesco Bruni on Azzurra away soon after the gun. Jablonski followed and held a one boat-length lead on a long port tack before Bruni tacked back. A tacking duel followed in 12 to 14 knots of breeze as the Italians whittled away the Russian lead, gaining a metre or two on every tack. As Jablonski tacked to leeward for the tenth time, Bruni had gained the advantage and sailed his opponent out to the layline. The Russians kept it close but the young Italian team eked out more time on every leg.
Race Four: Artemis def. ALEPH Sailing Team 01:21 – Bertrand Pacé and his ALEPH Sailing Team trailed by 50 metres over the starting line in this match and that was all the margin Artemis would need to dominate the race. It appeared to be a miscalculation on time and distance to the start on the French boat, and with Artemis helmsman Terry Hutchinson hitting the line with speed, his Swedish team was in firm control all the way around the track.
Provisional leaderboard after Flight Two:
Emirates Team New Zealand, 2
ALEPH Sailing Team, 1
Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 0
Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 0