American-based Kiwi Gavin Brady and his largely international team of Latin Rascals took the fight to host Emirates Team New Zealand in their Louis Vuitton Trophy race today, only to lose after a gear failure.
Brady, with American tactician Morgan Larson calling the shots, pulled off a risky pre-start strategy against skipper Dean Barker on the New Zealand boat, pushing ETNZ deep into the start box after a dialup but breaking clear with immaculate timing to grab the start he wanted – a port tack cross at speed, right at the committee boat.
Minutes later as they came back together, Brady had a two boat-length advantage that he parlayed into a 22 second lead at the first weather mark. Down the run, the New Zealanders split away and Brady let them go, only to concede the right side of the course when they rounded opposite gates starting the second beat.
Brady’s lead had evaporated but the fight had just started. Half way up the weather leg Mascalzone barely had her nose in front as they sailed into a building breeze when the jib came crashing down. “That was our race to win,” said Brady. “And a tough way to lose!”
Out on the Waitemata Harbour today, the wait for a good breeze stretched out to three hours but the competitors were rewarded with superb sailing conditions under a bright sunny sky. The sea breeze filled in from the southwest, starting at five to seven knots and building during the afternoon to nearly 15 knots before softening a little in the late afternoon.
The boats raced on 1.2-mile legs on the black course, bounded by the Devonport shore and the natural grandstand of North Head on one side and Bastion Point on the other. Spectators high on North Head were rewarded with birds-eye views of the competition.
Race One: TEAMORIGIN def. All4One, 01:33 – Britain’s TEAMORIGIN, skippered and steered by Ben Ainslie, prevailed in the pre-start to lead Sébastien Col at the wheel of All4One at the gun with a 16-metre margin. Sailing at speed on port tack, the British boat started right at the committee boat while their adversary tacked off to starboard behind them. When they converged at the first cross, Ainslie had converted his lead in the shifty breeze to 70 metres. The German/French boat stayed relatively close until the second weather mark but lost a minute on the last run.
Race Two: Emirates Team New Zealand def. Mascalzone Latino Audi, 4:43 – Gavin Brady, the Kiwi skipper of Italy’s Mascalzone Latino Audi Team took the fight to the home team, overcoming Dean Barker’s starboard entry advantage. Brady came out unscathed in several close pre-start encounters to win the start and the right side of the course. With the breeze up to 11 knots, Brady led Barker by a boat length at the first cross. The visiting team exploited the power of the right to lead at the top mark by a boat length and then extend on the run. Barker fought back, closing down to eight seconds at the leeward mark and getting out to the right. After two very close tacks, the visitors were fighting to maintain a safe leeward berth on starboard when a halyard clip failed and Brady’s hopes crashed, along with the jib.
Race Three: Azzurra def. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 00:41 – The Russian boat steered by Karol Jablonski secured a safe leeward as the boats started, forcing Francesco Bruni on Azzurra away soon after the gun. Jablonski followed and held a one boat-length lead on a long port tack before Bruni tacked back. A tacking duel followed in 12 to 14 knots of breeze as the Italians whittled away the Russian lead, gaining a metre or two on every tack. As Jablonski tacked to leeward for the tenth time, Bruni had gained the advantage and sailed his opponent out to the layline. The Russians kept it close but the young Italian team eked out more time on every leg.
Race Four: Artemis def. ALEPH Sailing Team 01:21 – Bertrand Pacé and his ALEPH Sailing Team trailed by 50 metres over the starting line in this match and that was all the margin Artemis would need to dominate the race. It appeared to be a miscalculation on time and distance to the start on the French boat, and with Artemis helmsman Terry Hutchinson hitting the line with speed, his Swedish team was in firm control all the way around the track.
Provisional leaderboard after Flight Two:
Emirates Team New Zealand, 2
ALEPH Sailing Team, 1
Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 0
Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 0