James Spithill, winner of the 33rd America's Cup and defender of the 34th America's Cup, topped the standings on the opening day of racing in the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai. The young Australian skipper steered BMW Oracle Racing to a 2-0 record over the French/German boat All4One while the other four boats in the contest posted 1-1 records.
Racing was close and eventful on the short windward-leeward courses tucked into gulf waters between Dubai Creek and the palm-tree shaped man-made islands of The Palm Jumeirah. There were two collisions, one serious, when Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand speared its spinnaker pole through the starboard side of Mascalzone Latino Audi steered by Gavin Brady during an incident at the top mark in today's second flight. No one was hurt but Brady was penalised twice in the incident and race officials asked Brady to withdraw to avoid further damage to the Kiwi boat.
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Cameron Dunn from Mascalzone said his team was head to wind when the New Zealand boat tried to turn inside them and their spinnaker pole sliced into the brittle carbonfiber topsides of the Italian boat. “It went straight through the carbon fibre. It’s not a very thick skin at that point. It’s not designed to take impacts on the side. We’re lucky it wasn’t much worse. It could have been considerably worse. I’m surprised the bow didn’t hit. Luckily it was just the spinnaker pole. No one was hurt. It was pretty exciting for the 18th man in the back, and the television cameraman.”
Ray Davies, tactician on ETNZ said: “It was pretty dramatic. Obviously not what anyone wants. A lot of damage, a broken spinnaker pole and a big hole in a boat. It’s not a good way to start but the guys are working on repairs and it should be okay for tomorrow.”
Following a jury hearing into the collision, Mascalzone Latino Audi was docked one point while ETNZ lost half a point. Before racing started, race officials had warned sailors about actions that might render boats incapable of racing.
In the other incident, young French helmsman Sebastien Col flicked the bow of his French/German boat All4One into the safety wands on the stern of BMW Oracle Racing during the pre-start of their second race. The contact earned him a penalty flag and he lost the race.
Dubai skies were clear, hot and sunny skies as racing got under way after a short delay. The sea breeze came in at 6-8 knots and built to 14 to 15 knots as the afternoon wore on. Boats raced twice around a windward-leeward course with a mid course start finish line that also served as a gate for all legs.
Blow by blow:
Flight One, Race One, Mascalzone Latino Audi def Emirates Team New Zealand, 00:27 – At the start ETNZ split away on port tack while Mascalzone bore off on starboard with an early lead. Gavin Brady, skippering the Italian boat seized the early advantage and controlled the race, leading at every mark and fending off the New Zealanders as they threatened to overtake at the leeward mark.
Flight One, Race Two, Artemis Racing def Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 00:30 – It was all over before the start gun as Cameron Appleton on Artemis threatened to push Synergy above the committee boat as they approached on starboard tack. Francesco Bruni elected to squeeze into the narrowing gap between his opponent and the committee to. Seconds later the umpires signaled a red flag penalty requiring an immediate penalty turn. The Swedish boat led comfortably and finished 122 metres ahead.
Flight Two, Race One, Emirates Team New Zealand def Mascalzone Latino Audi, ret – This race ended with a bang. Dean Barker carried Gavin Brady far above the wrong side of the weather mark before the boats collided after rounding. The Kiwi spinnaker pole speared through the side of the Italian boat leaving Brady with two penalties for the mark rounding scuffle. Minutes later Mascalzone Latino was asked to withdraw to avoid further damage. Barker sailed on to take the point.
Flight Two Race Two, Synergy Russian Sailing Team def Artemis Racing, 00:31 – Both boats wanted the right at the start but it was Artemis who controlled and split off on port to claim the right hand advantage. Half-way up the first leg, the Russian boat clawed back to take a narrow 11 second lead at the top mark before extending and protecting their lead for the rest of the race.
Flight Three, Race One, BMW Oracle Racing def All4One, 00:17 - James Spithill landed a penalty on the French/German boat and led it off the line with a 60-metre advantage after a spirited pre-start exchange. All4One helmsman Sebastien Col had attempted to duck below his opponent and hook him as they approached the line but as his bow pinged the safety wands on the American boat’s stern, the umpires’ flag went up. Col kept it close but the race belonged to Spithill.
Flight Four, Race One, BMW Oracle Racing def All4One, 00:24 - The Americans wanted the right and controlled the start but Sebastien Col started perfectly to leeward and the margin was seldom more than a metre either way as they sailed for three and a half minutes out to the layline. BMW Oracle rounded eight seconds ahead, gradually extended on the following legs and finished 85 metres ahead.
1. BMW ORACLE Racing, 2-0, 2 pts
=2. Artemis Racing, 1-1, 1 pt
=2. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 1-1, 1 pt
4. Emirates Team New Zealand, 1-1, 0.5 pts *
5. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 1-1, 0 pts *
6. All4One, 0-2, 0 pts
* Scoring penalty deducted by Umpires
From Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW Oracle Racing
From Sander van der Borch/Artemis: