Four way tie for second
TeamOrigin got another point on the board leaving them tied in second overall with three other teams in their race today against the Russian Synergy team. Today’s race finally saw a more routine win for the British, as a sail handling issue by the Synergy crew allowed TeamOrigin to take a comfortable win.
Conditions were ideal for racing today with almost flat water and a southerly breeze that ranged from 12 to 20 knots with some big shifts and puffs. Peter Reggio’s race committee from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron got off four races with time to spare even after pauses for boat repairs and commercial shipping.
The TeamOrigin v Synergy match was the third in today’s flight with the start gun going at 1315 local in 16-18 knots. As the two teams approached the line, Synergy came in from behind at pace and tried to put pressure the British team, but they both split tacks just off the line with TeamOrigin taking a small jump and heading out to the favoured right hand side. Synergy kept pace well as they headed out to the left.
The course area today unusually had the Bean Rock lighthouse right in middle of the course with a ‘restricted zone’ around it. This forced Synergy to tack across to avoid the restricted area. At the first cross TeamOrigin on starboard were just bow forwards and benefitted from Synergy being un able to tack away because of the Bean Rock ‘no-go’ zone. Both boats tacked on the layline with Synergy managing initially to hold on to the weather hip of TeamOrigin, but eventually being squeezed out by their bad air. TeamOrigin led around the weather with a 12 seconds advantage.
Both teams executed bear away sets but there was a small twist in Synergy’s gennaker. The two teams did a simultaneous gybe, Synergy trying hard to cast some wind shadow on TeamOrigin as they headed downwind. At this point the breeze was up to 15-16 knots but quite fluky, the conditions hard to read. The British were able to pull out a a three boat length lead, keeping clear ahead but covering their opponent. Crunch moment came at the bottom mark when Synergy seemed to be set up for the wrong mark and could not get their kite down. The Russians had to sail past the mark before they were able to sort the problem out and by then TeamOrigin had extended their lead to 48 seconds.
From here TeamOrigin extended rounding the top mark 1 minute 7 seconds concluding with a finish delta of 1 minute and 18 seconds. This leaves them tied on points in second place with three wins and two loses alongside All4One, Azzurra and Mascalzone Latino Audi Team. TeamOrigin still have two tough matches ahead of them – against the Terry Hutchinson/Paul Cayard-driven Artemis and the newly reformed Mascalzone with Gavin Brady at the wheel.
Kelvin Harrap, TeamOrigin Afterguard Coach, commented of today’s race: “We got the basics right today, we were in control by the top corner of the first beat, the crew work was smooth and efficient and all went according to plan. Now we need to focus on winning our next two races to finish the round robin in the best possible position.”
In today’s other flights Emirates Team New Zealand looked confident in front of the homecrowd when they dispatched the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice winner Azzurra.
The Kiwi team got an extra share of the limelight today when it hosted All Black rugby football star Dan Carter as 18th man, and when it broke a spinnaker pole during a hoist, the third fracture in the regatta in as many days. The Kiwis shrugged it off, losing only a few seconds in their match against Azzurra by setting their spinnaker without a pole.
Carter put in a lot of extra time comparing rugby to sailing action for the media microphones and signing autographs for the crowd that gathered in the Louis Vuitton Village in Market Square when he came ashore. His verdict? He was impressed by the teamwork and amazed at the intensity of the sounds of a Cup boat complaining under full load.
Race One: All4One, def. ALEPH, 01:06
The breeze was 14 knots from the SSW as the all-French team of Aleph met the Franco-Germans on All4One. After an intense pre-start in which Bertrand Pacé at the wheel of Aleph attempted to get hook his opponent, it was the combined team steered by Frenchman Sébastien Col that grabbed control of the right as the boats split at the start. On the first cross All4One led narrowly and Aleph had to duck but that was as close as she got. Bolstered by the local knowledge of her Kiwi tactician John Cutler, All4One extended her control. “Our start strategy was to stay to the right of our opponent but the first thing we wanted was to be going full speed when the gun went,” Cutler said. “We started on port which was the lifted tack. That took a bit of pressure off us. We just had to wait for the next shift to come our way. When we crossed, Sébastien did a very nice job on a slam dunk on Bertrand Pacé and we were again on a very nice shift. The leader had the option to sail on the wind shifts and the trailing boat really didn’t have a lot of choice.” With yesterday’s Umpire decision, penalising them one point, Aleph shares the bottom of the table with zero points.
Race Two: Emirates Team New Zealand def. Azzurra, 00:42
This was the opportunity for Italy’s Azzurra team skippered by Francesco Bruni to level the points lead with Emirates Team New Zealand if they won. Dean Barker’s host team offered the Italians a slender opportunity when they broke their spinnaker pole at the first weather mark, but it was still a one-sided match. Riding as 18th man on ETNZ, New Zealand rugby star player Dan Carter got a close-up view of Barker’s surgical tactics before the start. Barker wanted the left and fought for it. The Kiwis got under the transom of the Italian boat to control them before the gun, then headed out to the left at speed while Bruni could only tack away and go right. They were 1,000 metres apart on the short harbour course before the Italians came back to trail by eight boat lengths at the first mark. The Kiwis showed a crack in their impeccable crew work as the spinnaker pole end dropped overboard at the hoist and broke as it wrapped around the shrouds. But the chute went up as planned and they sailed both runs with the spinnaker clipped to the bow. The finish delta was 42 seconds and the Azzurra team drowned their spinnaker, if not their disappointment, when they trawled it overboard while dropping after the finish.
Race Three: TEAMORIGIN def. Synergy Russian Sailing team, 01:18
Karol Jablonski, Polish skipper of the Russian boat, has a reputation as a tenacious and sometimes unconventional starter, as Ben Ainslie and the British TeamOrigin crew were reminded today. Jablonski had the favoured starboard tack entry and after losing a preliminary pre-start skirmish he was able to grab control and start where he wanted on the left and force Ainslie away. The expected left shift never really materialized and the British boat led when they first closed tacks. Jablonski kept in touch around the first two legs and the Russians only trailed by four boat lengths at the end of the first run. Problems getting the spinnaker down cost them heavily and the British boat had a 400 metre margin at the finish.
Race Four: Mascalzone Latino Audi Def Artemis, 01:03
The pre-start struggle saw Paul Cayard’s Artemis, steered by Terry Hutchinson, penalised for gybing too close. Cayard was blunt. “It was not, in my opinion, a foul!” Brady, steering Mascalzone Latino Audi, saw it differently. “In this game the rules are pretty strict and we’ve got umpires watching us. He couldn’t quite get his boat onto starboard. He was desperately trying to but the rules of sailing say the sail has to be set and he couldn’t get his sail through (in time).” Artemis led off the line to control the first beat and was leading by less than a boat length at the top mark when a very untidy situation on Mascalzone Latino Audi saw the spinnaker fly loose from the tack. Brady’s boat lost five boat lengths, but pulled it back on the subsequent legs to overtake Artemis on the final run, surviving an Artemis protest as they sailed through the Swedish boat’s lee. They came to the line together with ML Audi one length clear ahead. The finish delta after the Artemis penalty turn stretched out to 1:03.
Provisional leaderboard after Flight Five:
1. Emirates Team New Zealand, 5-0, 5 pts
=2. All4One, 3-2, 3 pts
=2. Azzurra, 3-2, 3 pts
=2. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 3-2, 3 pts
=2. TEAMORIGIN, 3-2, 3 pts
6. Artemis, 2-3, 2 pts
7. ALEPH Sailing Team, 1-4, 0 pts *
8. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 0-5, 0 pts
*Penalty point deducted
Race schedule for tomorrow, Monday 15th March:
Race 1: ETNZ (NZL) vs Aleph (FRA)
Race 2 : TEAMORIGIN vs Artemis (SWE)
Race 3: Mascalzone (ITA) vs Azzurra (ITA)
Race 4: Synergy vs All4One (FRA)