Ainslie Early Leader At Omega Auckland Match Racing Regatta

Triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie is making the early running after two day's of competition at the star-studded ISAF Grade 3 Omega Auckland Match Racing Regatta.
Winds gusting over 25 knots and big windshifts forced an early end to the second day of racing in the Omega Auckland Match Racing Regatta today – after some spectacular early action saw the teams at the edge of control.

Two flights were completed before race officials sent the yachts off the race track, with Britain’s Ben Ainslie strengthening his hold on the leaderboard. The triple Olympic gold medallist and his Team Origin crew won both their matches, the first over Sébastien Col (FRA) and the second over New Zealand America’s Cup veteran Chris Dickson.

Ainslie is alone at the top of the leaderboard on 8-2, with three teams, Dean Barker (NZL) of Emirates Team New Zealand, ISAF Match Racing World Champion Adam Minoprio (NZL) and Polish ace Karol Jablonski on 6-4.

Regatta co-ordinator John Rountree of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron said racing was abandoned for the day because the wind was reaching the upper limits for the fleet of identical Farr MRX match racers. “We have passed the stage of fair match racing,” said Rountree.

The racing that was accomplished today, saw some tight matches as the crews battled on the edge of control. One of the closest contests of the day involved an enthralling match between Minoprio and Magnus Holmberg of Sweden.

There were two lead changes and a wild charge for the finish line under spinnaker as Minoprio came from behind to take victory gun by 4 seconds. “We were reaching under spinnaker and went to luff Adam and his crew,” said Holmberg. “However, they just managed to edge ahead at the finish line and that was it. It was a good race.”

“The big problem was the gusts and the windshifts,” said Minoprio. “We were getting 30-40 degree windshifts with big gusts. In these boats, you have to react very quickly in those conditions to keep control. We were a bit lucky. It was definitely on the edge.”

Racing is scheduled to resume on the Waitemata Harbour tomorrow.

Spectators and fans are able to follow the action live on a dedicated radio station on 103fm organized through RadioLive. International yachtsman and commentator Peter Lester provides expert analysis and blow by blow accounts of the racing.

The Omega Auckland Match Racing Regatta is the opening event of the Auckland Festival of Sailing, which comprises a series of on and off the water events. The Omega Auckland Match Racing Regatta is followed by the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland (where five of the skippers from the Omega regatta will also compete) and by the BMW Sailing World Cup Final. Also part of the festival is the Auckland International Boat Show.

Round Robin One Results
(After 10 Flights)

Ben Ainslie (GBR) 8-2
Dean Barker (NZL) 6-4
Adam Minoprio (NZL) 6-4
Karol Jablonski (POL) 6-4 
Bertrand Pacé (FRA) 5-5 
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) 5-5 
Francesco Bruni (ITA) 4-6
Sébastien Col (FRA) 4-6
Chris Dickson (NZL) 3-7
Magnus Holmberg (SWE) 3-7