BMW Oracle Racing - 4-0
Their efforts put the Kiwis and Russians second and third respectively in the standings after Day Two but it is James Spithill’s American team BMW Oracle Racing that enjoys first place with a perfect 4-0 score.
Weather played a role in curtailing racing, forcing the race committee to postpone one match until tomorrow. The start of racing was delayed as the race committee waited for the sea breeze to fill in. One hour before the scheduled start at noon there was barely a breath of wind as the temperature hit 30degC on its way to a forecast high of 32 deg. Racing got under way an hour and a half later in a building northerly breeze. Later in the afternoon a gusty, dusty breeze off the desert heralded an easterly wind shift and briefly postponed competition before racing restarted in 15-knot northeaster.
The Synergy team, which narrowly missed winning the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena earlier this year, pulled out all the stops in their race against Mascalzone Latino Audi, the challenger-of-record for the 34th America’s Cup in 2013.
Synergy’s helmsman Francesco Bruni went for the jugular in the pre-start, only to be penalised for touching the safety wands on the stern of his opponent’s boat. Undaunted, he eked out a 120 metre lead by the top of the second windward leg and in a bold move completed his penalty turn approaching the top mark. While Synergy completed their penalty turn ahead they had lost so much pace that the Italians were able to get the inside overlap approaching the mark, gaining the lead.
The Italians led down the final run and were looking safe, until they gybed when their spinnaker parted company with its halyard and fell in the sea. Game set and match to the Russians.
“We had quite a mixed pre-start,” said Synergy tactician Rod Dawson, with masterful understatement. “Then we came off the start line with a small edge and capitalised on that. We extended up the beat and throughout the race. We were sailing really well.”
(More comments from Mascalzone Latino Audi Team main sheet trimmer Paul Westlake at the bottom of this article)
There were lead changes too in the contest between Emirates Team New Zealand and the Franco-German boat All4One. Dean Barker won the start only to surrender the lead half way up the first beat as his opponent Sebastien Col pulled off a risky port tack cross.
Closing the leeward mark, the Kiwis rolled their opponents and grabbed an inside overlap to lead at the mark, despite an untidy spinnaker drop that threatened to put the brakes on their advance.
“It was a tricky little race,” said ETNZ tactician Ray Davies. “It was a very difficult course with quite big wind shifts and the game was changing all the time. It looked straightforward but it wasn’t.”
James Spithill and his team of America's Cup defenders on board BMW Oracle Racing today pulled off two wins against the Cameron Appleton-steered Artemis to lead this first round robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup Dubai, the only team with an unblemished scoreline to date.
Blow by blow:
Flight One, Race One, Emirates Team New Zealand def All4One, 00:23 – At the gun, Dean Barker steered the Kiwi team to a perfect start to leeward of the French/German boat, eventually forcing Sebastien Col away. At the weather mark ETNZ led by 12 seconds but had to work hard to hold off the opponents nipping at their heels.
Flight One, Race Two, BMW Oracle Racing def Artemis Racing, 00:27 – Artemis tactician Iain Percy called for a pin end start, while Oracle was well up the line as they started together. At the top mark James Spithill had the American boat 17 seconds ahead but they went through the downwind gate side by side. Oracle shredded a spinnaker approaching the leeward gate and Artemis’ Cameron Appleton closed, only to be denied an inside overlap protest.
Flight Two, Race One, Emirates Team New Zealand def All4One, 00:17 – ETNZ enjoyed an early lead before Col pulled off a close port tack cross half way up the leg. All4One controlled the right and rounded the top mark 10 seconds in front. Closing the leeward mark the Kiwis rolled their opponents and went on to win.
Flight Two, Race Two, BMW Oracle Racing def Artemis Racing, 00:37 – Skipper James Spithill wanted the left and grabbed it after taking Cameron Appleton and Artemis out into the spectator fleet in a lively and noisy circling duel. Spithill led back and tacked onto port right at the pin end of the line. When Appleton eventually came back on starboard, the American boat was already 60 metres clear ahead and pulling away.
Flight Three, Race One, Synergy Russian Sailing Team def Mascalzone Latino Audi, 01:19 – Aggressive tactics before the start cost Synergy a penalty as Francesco Bruni attempted to hook Gavin Brady’s Mascalzone. Brady started at the committee and went right but Bruni got up on his hip and held the Italian boat above the starboard layline to lead at the next two marks. Synergy had a 120-metre edge as the breeze softened on the second beat. A penalty turn put the Russian boat back into contention but Mascalzone rounded the weather mark just three seconds in front. The Italian boat’s voyage to victory ended when the spinnaker came off the halyard and went in the water.
1. BMW ORACLE Racing, 4-0, 4 pts
2. Emirates Team New Zealand, 3-1, 2.5 pts *
3. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 2-1, 2 pts
4. Artemis Racing, 1-3, 1 pt
=5. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 1-2, 0 pts *
=5. All4One, 0-4, 0 pts
Interview with Paul Westlake - Mascalzone Latino Audi Team main sheet trimmer:
Whenever Mascalzone Latino sails there is action?
Paul Westlake: “Yes, there is certainly action, two days in a row now. We are making it a little bit hard for ourselves, but we feel we are sailing well. Sailing can be like this; it’s a little bit of momentum. We feel we are doing all the basics right and it’s just a matter of a few things coming together for us. We had a problem with the winch today, right off the start line and that makes it very tough to be aggressive upwind and downwind and then the halyard came undone. It had never happened to us before and nobody knows why. It was a tough day.”
Tell us about the penalty at the start
Paul Westlake: “The penalty at the start was basically Synergy coming too close to us to leeward, establishing an overlap too close.”
Then at the top mark they gave it back to you.
“Because of our problem with the winch we couldn’t tack and gybe effectively. As a result,
Synergy managed to extend their lead in the second beat and at the top mark they judged they had just enough distance to offload the penalty there. They did it but we did a great job and we got through to leeward of them and beat them around the top mark. Still, with our handicap, the broken winch, we only had one option afterwards, to do a gybe set.”
How does it work when you find something is not working onboard?
Paul Westlake: “We do have breakdown procedures; we don’t actually practice them but they are such an experienced crew and they quickly went into the breakdown procedure but as you can imagine, you can’t push these boats to 100%.”
What happened with the winch?
Paul Westlake: “The gearbox shattered in the final tack to the start. Basically with eight guy grinding it gave in. Our guys are too strong and they broke the winch.”
What happened with the halyard?
Paul Westlake: “We absolutely don’t know. We went into a gybe and through its course the spinnaker filled and just came down. For some reason the clip was open, it came undone but it hadn’t been undone for the three minutes before that. “
You had some bad luck but Mascalzone is not sailing at its best.
Paul Westlake: “We measure ourselves by the points we have on the board and we obviously don’t look so bad right now. Still, there is absolutely no problem onboard, we are very, very confident. In the last two races we were behind for different reasons and by the time we reached the second top mark we managed to overtake them. We feel really good as a crew and it’s very motivating to come from behind and be ahead at a critical point of the day. We feel confident that a couple of things will go our way and the points will come. It’s only the second day and it’s a long round robin.”
More images from Artemis' Sander van der Borch
From Chris Cameron/Emirates Team NZ