More drama for TeamOrigin
Once again Ben Ainslie and his team on board TeamOrigin were involved in drama during their Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland race today when in the pre-start against Bertrand Pace's Aleph Sailing Team there was contact between the boats post-dial up resulting in the French not only receiving a penalty but a one point deduction.
After a day lost to heavy, gusty winds, the moderate to fresh conditions today were still sufficient to test the eight teams that took turns in match racing on the Waitemata Harbour on the Emirates Team New Zealand boats, NZL84 and NZL92.The 12 knot breeze 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.
TeamOrigin’s race, the second of the day, got underway just before midday in a 17 knot southerly wind and bright sunshine. The British boat entered from the unfavoured port end and was forced into a dial-up. TeamOrigin and Aleph hung head to wind for more than a minute and ended up slowly sailing backwards. The lateral separation was enough for skipper Ben Ainslie to let the British boat fall onto port tack and, with a backed jib and completely eased mainsail, TeamOrigin bore away sharply to swing into the gap between the two boats attempting to pass behind the French boat's transom. But as the British boat was three quarters of the way through this manoeuvre the French crew started to get underway again, also on port tack and in doing so the stern of the French boat to started to swing to port towards the bow of the British boat. Skipper Ainslie was compromised and without being given any opportunity to keep clear the British boat clipped the stern of the French boat.
The Umpires ruled against the French team awarding them a penalty, and later a one point deduction from their regatta scoreboard.
The penalty on the opponent caused TeamOrigin to switch to a more conservative strategy for the race knowing they just had to stay close and avoid trouble to take the win and the point. Ainslie and his team won the start and opened up a nice lead on the first beat to round the first mark with a 30 second lead, which they maintained in the constantly building breeze to the finish.
Following the pre-start incident, Aleph flew a red protest flag. This resulted in a request for redress to the International Jury. Following a short hearing at the end of racing, where video evidence from both teams and the Louis Vuitton Trophy TV production team was shown, the Jury felt sufficiently confident to deny the request.
There was also drama in today’s third race when 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.
Emirates Team New Zealand maintained their perfect scoreline after a convincing win today over the German/French boat All4One. Tactician Ray Davies described the Kiwi team's part in this race: “We had a good start. We managed to get below the pin end of the line with All4One to leeward of us, making it very hard for them to get a good start.
“We both started on port tack. All4One was quite slow and we immediately took a comfortable lead. We had control and took them right out to the exclusion zone (an area of shallow water and rocks) on the southern side of the course.
“We both tacked away. We sheeted hard in and All4One was in our wind shadow but couldn’t tack away. They were a couple of knots slower but had no alternative but to follow us into the mark.” The margin at the first mark was 32sec.
Davies continued: “On the run we again saw the power that the trailing boat has when it brings up the pressure from behind. All4One took big chunks out of our lead. We took the left end of the gate, giving us the right side of the course on the beat, and covered hard to protect our advantage. Towards the top of the course the breeze became very shifty so we have to play the shifts rather than cover the opponent.
“We had enough of a lead at the mark (21sec) to feel comfortable on the run. The breeze was good and steady and they didn’t have any passing opportunities.”
While Emirate Team NZ lead, Azzurra, the young Italian team that won the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice holds second place with a 3-1 score line. The two teams will meet in the second race tomorrow.
Currently four teams are in equal third place with two wins and two losses - All4One, sailing under the German and French flags, Artemis, Mascalzone Latino Audi from Italy and TeamOrigin. The tie between Artemis and Mascalzone Latino Audi will be decided tomorrow in the fourth race.
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.”
Race Two: TeamOrigin def. Alpeh, 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.
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.
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.”
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