Artemis sneaks ahead
While racing yesterday was called off due to excessive mistral winds blowing, six races were held today in winds ranging from 15 to 20 knots with Torbjorn Tornqvist's Swedish team nosing ahead of Emirates Team New Zealand and Synergy Russian Sailing Team holding second both with five points.
Only eight teams will qualify for the quarter finals and wth just four races remaining in the round robin, America’s BMW Oracle Racing and Bertrand Pace's French Aleph Racing Team, with ninth and tenth places respectively, are on the outside, looking in.
James Spithill and BMW Oracle Racing decisively won their races today against Italy’s Mascalzone Latino and Azzurra, but the late improvement in form was not enough enough to hoist them above ninth place, althogh at present they are on three points tied with Luna Rossa. However with all their round robin races complete the America's Cup defenders are effectively eliminated.
Compared to yesterday, this morning the mistral had eased and conditions were perfect for racing under sunny skies. The first race of the day started in 15 knots of northwest wind after a short delay. The breeze continued to build but after Oracle beat Azzurra in winds that gusted over 20 knots, organisers ordered a delay until conditions eased. Over the course of the day the race committee had been forced to move the race course area twice as the wind shifted first to the right and then later increased dramatically to over 25 knots.
TeamOrigin lost their match against the local heroes on Azzurra today. The start of only came following a 90 minute delay and to avoid the worst of the conditions the race management team tucked the course against the shore on the left hand side of the course area in the Gulf of Arzachena.
Ben Ainslie had the favoured starboard entry for the pre-start and came roaring in at high speed to block the early advances of the Italian team along the start line. The pair engaged in several minutes of tight circling in the fresh conditions before the British team took up the left hand position believing that the left side of the course would pay dividends.
When the gun went the pair were separated laterally by almost the full length of the line, leaving too large a gap to be able to sail around the front of the opponent before the layline without a significant wind shift - a shift that didn’t come. With the short courses of the Louis Vuitton Trophy the opportunities are already limited, when that course is set close to the shore they become even more so. Before long TeamOrigin found itself over the port tack layline, pinned below the local boat and unable to cross ahead, and with the rocky Sardinian shoreline fast approaching. A call for sea room caused the Italians to finally tack for the mark and leisurely open up the gap between the two to about two lengths at the first weather mark.
High speed sailing downwind in the strong winds again leaves little tactical opportunity to pass and barring boathandling errors on the leader TeamOrigin’s only opportunity to make inroads was to take the unfavoured gate mark at the bottom of the run in an effort to split away from Azzurra end into the second beat with some lateral separation. Quickly the gap opened up further and the chance of making any impact on the Italian’s lead unraveled more as they tacked to cover from a safe position to weather and ahead.
TeamOrigin tacked back to starboard half way up the second beat trying to lure the Italians into a tacking duel, but instead Azzurra’s afterguard let the British boat swap sides for a while. On trying to instigate the same again coming from the left the Italian team again let TeamOrigin swap sides ultimately requiring the British team to make two more tacks than their opponent to round the last mark. At the turn the lead was big and all the Italians had to do was keep the boat on track to take the win.
“On short courses it’s essential to get the right start and we gave the Italians too much room and were punished for it,” said Sir Keith Mills, Team Principal and riding on board as 18th man today.
TeamOrigin has one race remaining, against another Italian team Mascalzone Latino. A win here will see the Brits advance to the Semi-Final stage. A loss may require the results of other teams to come into play to avoid elimination.
Blow by blow
Flight 19, Race Two: BMW Oracle Racing def. Mascalzone Latino, 00:26 – James Spithill on Oracle pushed Mascalzone Latino below the committee on the starboard layline and landed two penalties in quick succession on Italy’s Gavin Brady as they circled tightly in 14 knots of wind. Oracle led across the line by nearly two boat lengths and left the Italian boat in their wake as Brady was forced to complete the first of his penalty turns. Mascalzone trailed by 180 metres as they set off in pursuit. The Italians still trailed by 26 seconds at the finish and the umpires waived the penalty turn to minimize wear and tear on the jib.
Flight 20, Race One: Mascalzone Latino def. Aleph Sailing Team, 00:01 – Gavin Brady steering Mascalzone Latino snatched victory by one second from France’s Aleph in the closing metres of an intense chase by the Italian boat. Bertrand Pacé dominated a split tack start and led by 18 metres as he started ten seconds after the gun. Brady kept it close through four legs. There was seldom more than one boat length between them. The Italians closed on Aleph when the French boat botched the last gybe for the mark and conceded their lead.
Flight 14, Race Two: Luna Rossa def Aleph Sailing Team, 01:45 – Trailing at the first leeward mark, Aleph sailed through the gate and below the committee boat as the French crew struggled to hoist the the jib and get the gennaker down. Bertrand Pacé had fought for the right at the start but a pin end bias conferred a 30 metre lead to Ed Baird and Luna Rossa.
Flight 13, Race Two: BMW Oracle Racing def. Azzurra, 00:15 – Azzurra steered by Francesco Bruni gave this vital race away with a slow start, trailing by 114 metres off the line. Oracle’s James Spithill went for a pin end start on a heavily biased line and Bruni appeared to be lining up for a port tack start at the committee on port but ducked and tacked, losing valuable time before he crossed on starboard to follow.
Flight 19, Race One: Azzurra def. TEAMORIGIN , 01:03 – Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie took TEAMORIGIN aross the line first at the favored pin end, bow forward by 18 metres . Francesco Bruni in Azzurra gradually gained and tacked just to leeward of the British boat on the port layline as Ainslie called for water, close to the shoreline. From there Bruni gradually squeezed up on Ainslie for a 14 second lead at the top mark and extended from there.
Flight 3, Race Two: Artemis def. Emirates Team New Zealand, 00:18 – After a lively pre-start Terry Hutchinson and Artemis led back to the line, starting to leeward but bow-forward of ETNZ. They were level-pegging for the first third of the leg until Hutchinson forced Kiwi helmsman Dean Barker away. Coming into the weather mark the Swedish boat lost its gennaker pole overboard but retrieved it intact. Repeated protests from the Kiwi boat were green-flagged and the Swedish crew never looked back.
Round Robin Provisional Results after Tuesday's racing
=1. Artemis, 6-2, 6 points
=2. Emirates Team New Zealand, 5-3, 5 points
=2. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 5-4, 5 points
=4. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 5-2, 4 points *
=4. All4One, 4-3, 4 points
=4. Azzurra, 4-5, 4 points
=4. TEAMORIGIN, 4-3, 4 points
8. Luna Rossa, 3-6, 3 points
9. BMW Oracle Racing Team, 3-6, 3 point
=10. ALEPH Sailing Team, 2-6, -2 points *
From Ian Roman/www.ianroman.com
From Chris Cameron/www.chriscameron.co.nz