The Synergy Russian Sailing Team and Emirates Team New Zealand both featured in come-from-behind victories during close competition today at the Louis Vuitton Dubai.
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 30 deg. C 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 prestart, only to be penalized for hitting 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 completed his penalty turn to round in company with Mascalzone.
Now the Italians led but only until 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 capitalized on that. We extended up the beat and throughout the race. We were sailing really well.”
There were lead changes too in the contest between Emirates Team New Zealand and the French/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 plus the 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.”
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