28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 - Prize Giving Ceremony - Oman Series Winners Land Rover BAR (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 – Prize Giving Ceremony – Oman Series Winners Land Rover BAR (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

Ben Ainslie, the most decorated Olympic sailor in history, led his Land Rover BAR team to victory at the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Oman this weekend.

Ainslie beat his former skipper, Jimmy Spithill and ORACLE TEAM USA, by two points, with the winning margin secured on a late charge in the final race.

Ainslie says winning the event in Oman was an important measuring stick for the team, which hadn’t won since securing victory on home waters in Portsmouth last summer.

28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 - Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 – Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

“We kept fighting through today,” he said. “Compared to the teams with established track records, we need to prove we can compete at the top of the fleet and I think we are getting back to doing that. We have a big team of designers, boat builders and support staff back at home working very hard for us and they want to know that we can win this thing.”

For ORACLE TEAM USA the second place result was a fourth consecutive podium finish in a Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series regatta. But for all that, the team has yet to win.

“We’ve made some good steps forward, but we need to get going,” Spithill said after racing. “It’s good to be on the podium. We’re one of only two teams to have been on the podium at each event. But we want to win. There’s no two ways about it.”

With a third place result in Oman, Emirates Team New Zealand retains its place atop the overall Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series leaderboard, but ORACLE TEAM USA, in second place, has closed the gap to just 6 points.

28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 - Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 – Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

“The last race was a little bit disappointing for us,” said skipper Glenn Ashby, referring to a fifth place finish. “But to come away from any event still holding the overall lead is a good thing. At the end of the day that’s what counts.”

Ashby is right. The leader at the conclusion of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series will carry two bonus points forward into the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers in May 2017 in Bermuda. The second place team earns one bonus point.

28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

A popular result on Sunday came from Groupama Team France, who finished strongly with a second place finish followed by a victory. With Adam Minoprio replacing the injured Franck Cammas on the helm this weekend, the team converted two strong start line performances into top finishes.

“We were pretty stoked on board. You could see the excitement on the guys faces,” Minoprio said. “We didn’t have the strongest start to the regatta but we’re happy to have been improving through the weekend and finishing with a win.”

Both SoftBank Team Japan and Artemis Racing continued to show moments of promised but fell back in the fleet over the course of the day; bad breaks combined with poor decisions or handling errors to put the pair at the bottom of the table.

28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 - Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 – Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman marked the first America’s Cup sailing in the Middle East and was a milestone event for the host, Oman Sail.

“This was a fantastic weekend for us,” said David Graham, the CEO of Oman Sail. “Promoting Oman through the America’s Cup broadcast was a fantastic opportunity for us.

“It was also tremendous to see the integration of our youth sailing programs with AC Endeavour. And I think perhaps most significant for me was how the Omanis on our team led the charge and delivered a fantastic event.

“The feedback from our guests, our partners, and all of the visitors who came to enjoy the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman has been extremely positive. Let’s do it again!”

28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Final Leaderboard 

Land Rover BAR – 8, 10, 10, 18, 14, 16 – 76 points
ORACLE TEAM USA – 9, 6, 9, 12, 20, 18 – 74 points
Emirates Team New Zealand – 10, 7, 5, 20, 16, 12 – 70 points
Groupama Team France – 5, 8, 7, 10, 18, 20 – 68 points
SoftBank Team Japan – 6, 9, 6, 16, 10, 14 – 61 points
Artemis Racing – 7, 5, 8, 14, 12, 10 – 56 points

#LVACWOMAN  #LVACWS #ACWS

Overall Series Leaderboard Thus Far

28/02/16 - Muscat (OMN) - 35th America's Cup Bermuda 2017 - Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series Oman - Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

28/02/16 – Muscat (OMN) – 35th America’s Cup Bermuda 2017 – Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Oman – Racing Day 2 (Photo © Ricardo Pinto / ACWS)

21/07/2013 - San Francisco (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - Louis Vuitton Cup - Round Robin - Luna Rossa vs Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo © ACEA / PHOTO GILLES MARTIN-RAGET)

Emirates Team New Zealand suffered its first breakdown during racing today in the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, but that didn’t stop the Kiwi crew from defeating Luna Rossa Challenge.

Sailing on the third of seven legs, a clip failed at the head of the sail that holds it to the headstay of Aotearoa. It took the crew more almost three minutes to detach the sail from the headstay and pitch it overboard, where it was retrieved by crew in the team’s chase boat.

Skipper Dean Barker and the Kiwis continued on, powered only by the 131-tall wing foot sail, and defeated the Italian syndicate by 2 minutes and 19 seconds to score their sixth point of the challengers’ series.

21/07/2013 - San Francisco (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - Louis Vuitton Cup - Round Robin - Luna Rossa vs Emirates Team New Zealand

“It’s one of those frustrating, annoying things,” said Barker. “We’ve never ever had an issue with the attachment of the jib before, but as is normal, when you start racing things like this happen. The encouraging thing is the guys did a very good job to address the situation and deal with it. The way the guys responded and settled into it was good.”

Emirates Team New Zealand hardly seemed affected by the lack of a jib, but Barker said they need the headsail to balance the 72-foot long catamaran.

“It’s very hard to get the boat hooked up in jibes, we didn’t jibe as well without the jib,” Barker said. “If you were going to sail with the jib only you’d have different board and rudder positions to balance out the boat better.”

Skipper Max Sirena’s Italian crew improved its performance from the teams’ previous meeting on July 13. They cut more than three minutes off the time difference, but couldn’t capitalize on the New Zealanders’ breakdown.

“We did a few changes on the boat, increased the aero package and a few changes in the systems to the boards,” said Sirena. “Today the Kiwis showed really good speed around the course. We sailed well around the course, which was the main goal, but we need to try and improve as a crew and our boatspeed in the next few weeks.”

After a day off tomorrow the two teams square off again on Tuesday with the start scheduled at 12:15 pm PT. The race will be broadcast globally on the America’s Cup YouTube channel, subject to territorial restrictions, beginning at 12:00 pm.

About today’s race:

Seven-leg America’s Cup course
Course length: 15.43 nautical miles
Elapsed times: ETNZ – 48:10; LR – 50:29
Total distance sailed: ETNZ – 19.4 nautical miles; LR – 19.99 nautical miles
Average speed: ETNZ – 24.19 knots (27.8 mph); LR – 23.77 konts (27.35 mph)
Top speed: ETNZ – 38.72 knots (44.5 mph); LR – 37.73 knots (43.4 mph)
Wind speed: average 13.8 knots; peak gust 20.5 knots

The schedule ahead:
Tuesday, July 23, Luna Rossa Challenge vs. Emirates Team New Zealand
Thursday, July 25, Artemis Racing vs. Luna Rossa Challenge
Saturday, July 27, Emirates Team New Zealand vs. Artemis Racing
Sunday, July 28, Emirates Team New Zealand vs. Luna Rossa Challenge

Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo by Nico Martinez / Audi MedCup)

Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo by Nico Martinez / Audi MedCup)

 

Two races down and on match point, Emirates Team New Zealand won the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena today in an action-packed afternoon of match race sailing.

© Bob Grieser/outsideimages.co.nz/Louis Vuitton Trophy

The New Zealand boat that won the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland in February prevailed 3-2 against the SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team that had put the Kiwis on the ropes 2-0 after the first race today.

“In the end it comes down to confidence in our team,” said Dean Barker, skipper and helmsman of ETNZ. “It’s hard to believe. It was a long way back from 2-0 down. But the guys stuck with it and they gave us an opportunity that we jumped on. After that we sailed more like we expect to and it feels fantastic to win another event.”

It was the first time in America’s Cup history that a Russian-flagged boat has reached the final of a Louis Vuitton-sponsored event and her mixed Russian and international crew led by Polish skipper Karol Jablonski came very close to clinching the series.

After the finish, boats crowded around the Kiwi winners and a fireboat sprayed water high in the air as Barker and his crew hosed each other down with champagne from two jeroboams and a methuselah of Moët & Chandon presented on board by Louis Vuitton chairman and CEO Yves Carcelle.

The start for the last race of the day set a new record for race turnarounds. The cutoff for competition was 4:00 pm and Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio and his team hustled to setup and signal the start of the last race, less than five minutes after the finish of race three.

A shifty easterly breeze that built slowly in speed provided excellent conditions on a warm, sunny final day of racing. Because there was no wind early, the petit final for third and fourth places was abandoned and the French/German team All4One was confirmed in third place, with Sweden’s Artemis fourth.

Final, Race Two:  SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team def. Emirates Team New Zealand, 01:22 – ETNZ had the starboard entry advantage but after a long dialup Jablonski claimed the committee end with the Kiwis to leeward in the middle of the line.  ETNZ and Barker were bow out as Jablonski carried them all the way out to the port layline. A right-hand shift carried both boats below the mark and an unsuccessful last-minute effort by Barker to punch through to leeward in a flurry of tacks saw the Kiwi boat make a down-speed rounding 20 seconds astern. Synergy sailed away. Rod Dawson, tactician, Synergy: “It was really satisfying. We wanted the right and Karol did a fantastic job. We felt it was going to shift that way and we controlled the race from that side. The shifts were up to 20 degrees, very tricky conditions…”

Final, Race Three: Emirates Team New Zealand def. SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team , 01:05 – ETNZ trailed by 26 seconds at the first mark but crisper, faster gennaker sets and gybes, and a tactical call half way down the first run, pulled the Kiwis within six seconds at the gate. Under pressure, SYNERGY’s crew fumbled the gennaker takedown bringing the boat almost to a standstill. Minutes later ETNZ led by 156 metres. At the start, Jablonski had conducted a master class in starting tactics, leveraging a starboard entry and controlling a long dialup that led above the line before taking off at the pin on port, with the Kiwis tucked away 22 metres to leeward. Davies said: “It was won down the first run for us. The right side was very, very strong. We managed to pull back close and the pass was down the run. He had a bad rounding but I think we were going to be ahead and on the favored side of the course.” Jablonski said: “That’s the game of mistakes. We gybed on the first run a little bit too early and TNZ had an edge, that’s why we decided to go to the other mark.”

Final, Race Four: Emirates Team New Zealand def. SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team, 00:04 – The Kiwi boat prevailed in a muscular tactical battle punctuated by a flurry of protest flags in 14 knots of breeze. After a spirited pre-start the boats split with the Kiwis on starboard before quickly tacking onto port to control.  Barker led by seven seconds at the top mark but the Russians overtook on the run, only to be penalized after contact when ETNZ closed up again.  The action was furious and the flags frequent on the last run as Synergy fought to land a penalty on their opponent but Barker kept clear and broke through to win by four seconds with the Synergy penalty still outstanding.

Final, Race Five:  Emirates Team New Zealand def. SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team, 01:23 –
Synergy claimed the committee end on starboard with ETNZ to leeward and immediately tacked away. The Kiwi boat tacked to cover and it was a replay as they went out to the starboard layline with the Russian boat forced to follow. Barker led by 12 seconds after the run and held off Jablonski in a spirited tacking duel up the second weather leg. Synergy’s hopes were shattered on the run when their gennaker shredded as they trailed by three boat lengths. Davies said: “It was a tough one. But we got there in the end. It was a tricky venue and tough competitors. It was tough to win and we’re pretty darn proud of it. The turning point was on that final run when their spinnaker blew out! In the end, the team keeps backing itself. It was stressful, but like all of these regattas, you just have to win the last race, and we peaked at the right time. Synergy sailed really well as did all of the top boats. It’s been a really close regatta, the closest of these we’ve had…It’s hard to keep people behind us, that’s for sure.”

Final Results

  1.  Emirates Team New Zealand
  2.  SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team    
  3.  All4One
  4.  Artemis
  5.  Mascalzone Latino Audi Team
  6.  Azzurra
  7.  TEAMORIGIN
  8.  Luna Rossa
  9.  BMW Oracle Racing Team
10.  ALEPH Sailing Team

BMW Oracle and Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo by Bob Grieser / outsideimages.co.nz)

BMW Oracle and Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo by Bob Grieser / outsideimages.co.nz)

 

A hard-fought battle between Emirates Team New Zealand’s Dean Barker and BMW Oracle Racing’s James Spithill at the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena today went the Kiwis’ way when the American team lost a penalty call in an aggressive luffing match approaching the second weather mark.
“It was close, just half a metre between the boats, as close as you’d ever want to be,” said Barker, describing the incident . “You could lean across and shake hands if you wanted to.”

Sailed in the blustery 18 to 20 knot winds of a building mistral, the match was the only one sailed today as the wind continued to increase in intensity.  Racing was canceled for the day as crews prepared for a second race between the Kiwi boat and Sweden’s Artemis.

Race officials later cancelled all racing on Monday when the heavy winds of the mistral are forecast to make conditions impossible for competition. They plan to resume on Tuesday and complete the remaining races of the round robin on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Today, the umpires penalized Oracle when Team New Zealand luffed their opponent, forcing them up head-to-wind, as the boats raced side-by-side towards the weather mark on port tack.

“They made a gain to the left approaching the top mark,” Barker said. “They were in a position where they probably would have led us around if we didn’t make something happen, so we did a couple of luffs.  The first one, we were required to give them room to get clear but they didn’t take the room straight away and make an attempt to keep clear so we luffed a second time and could easily have made contact with them if we hadn’t avoided. The umpires saw it the same way and penalized them.”

The confrontation momentarily cost the New Zealanders the lead and gave the advantage to Oracle, so the umpires added a red flag calling for an immediate penalty turn. The American boat circled before rounding the mark but was judged not to have completed a full turn. The umpires called for a second circle before clearing Oracle.

Louis Vuitton Trophy (Photo by Bob Grieser / outsideimages.co.nz )

Louis Vuitton Trophy (Photo by Bob Grieser / outsideimages.co.nz )

“It was a good hard race for us.  We back our crew work against any team and we came out on the right side of that one,” Barker said. “It’s hard because the emphasis has got to be on keeping the boats apart. We can’t afford any more damage here with one pair of boats already out of action.”

Provisional win-loss leaderboard after Sunday racing

  =1.  Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 5-4, 5 points
  =1.  Artemis, 5-2, 5 points
  =1.  Emirates Team New Zealand, 5-2, 5 points?
  =4.  TEAMORIGIN, 4-3, 4 points
  =4.  All4One, 4-3, 4 points?
  =6.  Azzurra, 3-4, 3 points?
  =6.  Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 4-1, 3 points *?
  =8.  Luna Rossa, 2-6, 2 points
  =9.  BMW Oracle Racing Team, 1-6, 1 point
=10.  ALEPH Sailing Team, 2-4, -2 points *

Azzura and Artemis (Photo by Paul Todd/outsideimages.co.nz/Louis Vuitton Trophy)

Azzura and Artemis (Photo by Paul Todd/outsideimages.co.nz/Louis Vuitton Trophy)

 

Just one point separates the top five boats at the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena after an eventful program of five races sailed today in fresh breezes.

© Paul Todd/outsideimages.co.nz/Louis Vuitton Trophy

Russia’s SYNERGY Racing Team and the Swedish team Artemis share the top of the point’s table, each with five points. Emirates Team New Zealand, Britain’s TEAMORIGIN and the French/German team All4One are all equal third on four points.

With two days’ competition remaining in the round robin, the pressure began to tell in strong winds this afternoon as Sweden’s Artemis broke a gennaker pole and shredded a gennaker, and a jib began to self-destruct on Emirates Team New Zealand. Both top teams lost their respective races.

The Artemis breakdown was self-inflicted. The Swedish boat skippered by Paul Cayard was pushing to overtake the Russian boat when the pole went overboard, triggering a sequence that saw it trip and explode into pieces before dragging the sail under the boat. Artemis retired. On the Team New Zealand boat, racing All4One, the hapless Kiwis could only watch as the head of their jib began to split in 20 knot winds.

The Kiwis had more success off the water, at least temporarily when the Race Committee gave them a reprieve by ordering a resail of their race yesterday against BMW Oracle Racing. In another twist, the Jury tonight will hear an appeal by Oracle against the resail decision.

The dispute hinges on a safety order issued yesterday telling teams to maintain tension on forestays during spinnaker runs. After an umpires’ protest and a jury decision denied Team New Zealand any chance of a win in their match against Oracle, the organizers relented today, withdrew the safety order and ordered the resail.

Flight Seventeen, Race Two: TEAMORIGIN def. Luna Rossa, 00:37 – They started at speed on starboard with Britain’s TEAMORIGIN bow-out in the leeward berth. Ed Baird steering Luna Rossa was forced away early on port as Ben Ainslie on ORIGIN sailed into more pressure and continued to pull ahead.

Flight Six, Race Two: Azzurra def. SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team, 00:15 – Italy’s Francesco Bruni pulled off a breathtakingly close port cross on the first leg to defeat SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team. On the second beat there were 17 punishing tacks up the 1.2-mile leg but Synergy skipper Karol Jablonski, on the right, could never gain enough ground to get past Bruni.

Flight Twentythree, Race One: Artemis def. Azzurra, 00:15 – Saddled with a penalty in the pre-start Francesco Bruni and his Italian Azzurra team stayed on the attack and took the fight to the Swedish team Artemis around all four legs as the lead changed multiple times. However the Italians were trailing Terry Hutchinson and Artemis by 100 metres at the finish and they were still carrying the penalty.

Flight Eighteen, Race One: SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team def. Artemis, retired – A spinnaker pole overboard at the end of the second run dragged Artemis to oblivion, breaking the pole and shredding the Swedish boat’s spinnaker.

Flight Twenty, Race Two: All4One def. Emirates Team New Zealand, 00:21 – The French/German boat started ahead in the middle of the line on starboard,  just ahead of the Kiwis on their weather hip.  All4One helmsman Sébastien Col gradually inched ahead and his lead increased as the jib on ETNZ began to self-destruct.

Provisional win-loss leaderboard after Saturday racing:

  =1.  Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 5-4, 5 points
  =1.  Artemis, 5-2, 5 points
  =3.  Emirates Team New Zealand, 4-2, 4 points

  =3.  TEAMORIGIN, 4-3, 4 points
  =3.  All4One, 4-3, 4 points

  =6.  Azzurra, 3-4, 3 points

  =6.  Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 4-1, 3 points *

  =8.  Luna Rossa, 2-6, 2 points
  =9.  BMW Oracle Racing Team, 1-5, 1 point
=10.  ALEPH Sailing Team, 2-4, -2 points *

La Maddalena, Sardegna --Louis Vuitton Trophy-The last day of practice before the racing begins saw all teams on the water. The Oracle team going to weather. (Photo by Bob Grieser/outsideimages.co.nz)

La Maddalena, Sardinia --Louis Vuitton Trophy-The last day of practice before the racing begins saw all teams on the water. The Oracle team going to weather. (Photo by Bob Grieser/outsideimages.co.nz)

Ten international sailing teams, including three from the host nation Italy, will gather on the waterfront at the Porto Arsenale in La Maddalena this evening for the opening ceremony of the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena.

Louis Vuitton (Photo by Bob Grieser/outsideimages.co.nz/Louis Vuitton Trophy))

Louis Vuitton (Photo by Bob Grieser/outsideimages.co.nz/Louis Vuitton Trophy))

The Mediterranean’s famous mistral has eased and the ceremony will take place in soft, warm evening breezes after a hot, sunny, cloudless day.  The now-traditional press conference will follow on the adjacent stage that is set below the outdoor jumbo television for public viewing.

The teams will race on four equalised America’s Cup Class boats supplied by the event – ITA 90, ITA 99, USA 87 and USA 98.  Two of the boats, flying event flags and banners, were moored at docks flanking the flag-raising ceremony.

Eight countries are represented amongst the ten competing teams.  The teams are:

Aleph, FRA, skipper Bertrand Pace
All4One, FRA/GER, skipper Jochen Schümann
Artemis, SWE, skipper Paul Cayard
Azzurra, ITA, skipper Francesco Bruni
BMW ORACLE Racing, USA, skipper James Spithill
Emirates Team New Zealand, NZL, skipper Dean Barker
Luna Rossa, ITA, skipper Ed Baird
Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, ITA, skipper Gavin Brady
Synergy, RUS, skipper Karol Jablonski
TEAMORIGIN, GBR, skipper Ben Ainslie

Mrs Liliana Lorettu will welcome the sailors and the sponsors on behalf of the region. Admiral Spagnuolo of the Italian navy will speak, as will Yves Carcelle, president of Louis Vuitton.

Speaking before the ceremony, Vincenzo Onorato, Chairman of Mascalzone Latino Team, said with a smile: “To host the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena was my idea and, standing here today, for once in my life I must say I was right. I’ve known this area well, since I was a kid and when I saw the new Arsenale I was pleasantly aware it is the best place possible to host a Louis Vuitton Trophy. We can expect light winds this weekend but after that, anything can happen.”

Paul Cayard, Chairman of the World Sailing Teams Association and skipper of the Swedish boat ARTEMIS, paid special tribute to the Italian teams. “Italy is passionate about sailing and the America’s Cup,” Cayard said. “As evidence of this interest, three Italian teams are racing here; Luna Rossa, AZZURRA and Mascalzone Latino Audi Team.  Sardinia is an iconic Italian venue for sailing and I am confident that the Louis Vuitton Trophy will be a spectacular event.”

Emirates Team New Zealand won the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland but skipper Dean Barker was cautious about his team’s chances, despite a victory last week at the Audi MedCup in Cascais, Portugal. “La Maddalena is an interesting venue,” Barker said. “Race courses will be laid inside a number of islands so we are expecting conditions to be tricky. We will be racing in two Mascalzone Latino and two BMW Oracle Racing boats. For the past two days we have spent some time learning how to sail them. Conditions have ranged from extremely light to heavy; bright sunshine to thunder, lightning and heavy rain.?The challenge for us is to discover in a short space of time just what makes these boats go . . . and what they don’t like.”

American Ed Baird, sailing for a new team as skipper of the Italian team Luna Rossa, said: “These boats are great.  They make for close racing and it’s going to be exciting competition. We have a real blend of people sailing on our team this week and it’s going to be fun to learn some new styles. We know there are a few teams that are on top of the heap right now. Emirates Team New Zealand is very strong.  The BMW Oracle guys are very good.  Mascalzone Latino had a good event in Auckland. Azzurra is sailing very well this year. We have a big hill to climb to catch up to those guys in a short amount of time.”

Francesco Bruni, skipper and helmsman of Azzurra, said: “We just completed three great days of training, with variable wind conditions, including some violent thunderstorms which caught us head on! We noticed that all the teams went into these training sessions with great determination, pushing to the limit and taking many risks, which confirms the great level of experience of all the crews. The scenery in La Maddalena, as expected, is absolutely stunning. The mood of Team Azzurra is high. We are confident that we did all we could to be prepared for this event and we are eager to start racing. The guys are excited, the group is strong and we have just the right amount of adrenalin to start.”

Racing is scheduled to start each day with a warning signal at 10:00 local time (GMT+2).

emirates-team-new-zealand-in-auckland

Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo by Paul Todd / outsideimages.co.nz / Louis Vuitton Trophy, Auckland - New Zealand)

The Louis Vuitton Trophy is coming to Sardinia in May, with 10 elite sailing teams set to race for two weeks on the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea off La Maddalena.

 

© Paul Todd/outsideimages.co.nz | Louis Vuitton Trophy

With just one month to go before racing begins on May 22nd, the host team, Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, is eager to extend a warm welcome to teams, sponsors and guests alike.

“La Maddalena is among the best places in the world to sail,” said Vincenzo Onorato, the team principal of Mascalzone Latino Audi Team. “The waters are warm, the wind conditions are very good and the people of La Maddalena will be gracious hosts. I want to welcome all of my sailing friends and fans of the sport to join us here in May.”

The Louis Vuitton Trophy – La Maddalena follows two successful regattas in Auckland (February 2010) and Nice (November 2009) over the past six months. Further events are planned in Dubai in November and Hong Kong in January of 2011.

For La Maddalena, two additional teams will join the eight who competed in Auckland, and both are world-class sailing squads. BMW ORACLE Racing, who won the America’s Cup Match in February, rejoins the Louis Vuitton Trophy after it missed the Auckland regatta due to its Cup commitments.

Luna Rossa, which has competed for the America’s Cup three times, winning the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2000, will race for the Louis Vuitton Trophy for the very first time, after sailing in a precursor event, the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series in 2009. Luna Rossa has assembled an impressive crew, including skipper Ed Baird, winner of the 32nd America’s Cup with Alinghi and tactician Torben Grael, who skippered Ericsson to a win in the last Volvo Ocean Race.

The addition of Luna Rossa will make for three Italian teams in La Maddalena, including Azzurra, the winning team in the Nice event. Also on the start list is the champion from Auckland, Emirates Team New Zealand. The full line-up for La Maddalena is 10 teams, representing eight countries:

Aleph, FRA, skipper Bertrand Pacé
All4One, FRA/GER, skipper Jochen Schümann
Artemis, SWE, skipper Paul Cayard
Azzurra, ITA, skipper Francesco Bruni
BMW ORACLE Racing, USA, skipper James Spithill
Emirates Team New Zealand, NZL, skipper Dean Barker
Luna Rossa, ITA, skipper Ed Baird
Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, ITA, skipper Gavin Brady
Synergy, RUS, skipper Karol Jablonski
TEAMORIGIN, GBR, skipper Ben Ainslie
In the Louis Vuitton Trophy regattas, the teams match-race equalised America’s Cup Class boats. For La Maddalena, the boats will be supplied by BMW ORACLE Racing (USA 87 and USA 98) and Mascalzone Latino Audi Team (ITA 90 and ITA 99).

La Maddalena is small town (population near 12 000) on an island with the same name that sits just one nautical mile off the Northeast coast of Sardinia. It is renowned for its beaches and its pink, rocky terrain and like Sardinia itself, offers up some of the most stunning backdrops for sailing in the Mediterranean.

The race village itself is set up about one kilometre to the east of the centre of town, near the southeast corner of the island. The heart of the race village will feature a big screen broadcasting all of the action from the race course. Crews will be in the race village interacting with the crowds during photo sessions, autograph signings and public press conferences. Food and beverage as well as team merchandise is also available, and the Louis Vuitton Junior Trophy will be contested by local junior sailors.

The easiest way to get to La Maddalena is to fly into Olbia’s Costa Smeralda airport (many flights transfer through Rome) and then transfer by road to Palau, approximately 40 kilometres to the north of Olbia. From Palau, there is a short ferry to La Maddalena. Alternatively, there are ferries into Palau from Corsica as well as Genoa and Napoli.

Racing is scheduled from the 22nd May through the 6th June. But teams will start official training sessions on the 18th May.

Emirates Team New Zealand ( Photo by Ian Roman)

Emirates Team New Zealand ( Photo by Ian Roman)

Racing under the colours of the host Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Emirates Team New Zealand won the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland regatta Sunday.

© Bob Grieser/outsideimages.co.nz | Louis Vuitton Trophy

The Kiwi boat extended on every leg of the deciding five-mile race off Auckland’s East Coast Bays against the Mascalzone Latino Audi team representing Club Nautico di Roma, which is the Challenger of Record for the 34th America’s Cup.

Emirates won the first race yesterday, and with their second victory today they went 2-0 in the Finals, which race officials shortened to a best-of-three contest due to light and uncertain winds.

Right after the finish, the normally controlled and contained Emirates skipper Dean Barker had a broad smile on his face as he soaked his veteran team with champagne from a jeroboam of Moët et Chandon, not even sparing an event photographer who had climbed aboard for the occasion.

On their way to the finals, Emirates survived by one second a heart-stopping last-minute penalty turn in their match against Azzurra, the other Italian team. Today they left no doubts with a composed and clinical performance that only saw them threatened once.

Ashore after racing it was a flashback to the glory days of the America’s Cups of 2000 and 2003, as crowds thronged the quayside in the Viaduct Basin and spectators crowded every vantage point on the moored boats and surrounding balconies.

Horns, sirens, cheers and applause greeted the Mascalzone Latino Audi boat as it docked at Market Square, its crew brandishing a giant banner that read “Thank you New Zealand.” The Emirates boat arrived to more applause, flying a gigantic New Zealand blue ensign plus smaller national flags of all the competing countries.

Before presenting the Louis Vuitton Trophy, Yves Carcelle, chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton, congratulated Dean Barker, his team, and all the competing teams on the quality of their racing. “Now I hope the Cup will revive. In the meantime, we have seen in the last few days an amazing sport competition. The fact that the boats are equalized means that it was all up to the teams and one more time, Team New Zealand has proved its domination.”

After the strong south-westerly winds that have characterized much of the regatta and forced the postponement of some races, there was a two-hour wait for wind today as the spectator fleet built in size. Racing started at noon at the mouth of the Rangitoto Channel in a warm and shifty 10 to 12-knot westerly breeze.

Barker wanted the right side of the course before the start. Gavin Brady, the Kiwi skipper of ML Audi, wanted the left, and the pre-start was uneventful as they split away, even before they crossed the line. Brady’s tactician Morgan Larson said later that they realized in the last minutes before the gun that the right was favored but they had no option but to follow their game plan.

The left finally paid off in the closing stages of the first leg, pulling the visitors back into the game.  As they closed, Emirates chose to tack short of the port tack ML Audi, only to be carried out beyond the starboard tack layline by the aggressive Italians.

Brady had his opportunity to level the score and the boats were bow to stern as Emirates led around the weather mark. The Kiwi spinnaker blossomed instantaneously in a slick set the Italians couldn’t match. Just as swiftly, Emirates gybed over into the favoring left shift, catching the Italians flat-footed. Within seconds the home team enjoyed a four-boat length lead, one they never relinquished. The finish margin was 53 seconds.

“On the first beat, it didn’t look as though the right was going to come in early enough for us and it was amazing how the pressure came in and we had enough to be strong,” Barker said.  “The guys did an amazing job. The first downwind was the key moment for us . . . to get the early gybe away and make a little gain there.”

Noting that his team had lost two races in the two weeks, Barker added: “It’s always satisfying when you feel that you’re sailing your best on the last day, and today we were sailing really well.”

Morgan Larson acknowledged the flawless performance of the New Zealand team. “We got a little bit of a miscommunciation in the back of the boat at the weather mark and I’ll hold my hand up for that one,” he said.  “If we’d gybed with them, we’d have been right on their tail.”

The overall results are:

1. Emirates Team New Zealand, New Zealand

2. Mascalzone Latino Audi, Italy

3. Azzurra, Italy

4. Artemis, Sweden

5. All4One, Germany/France

6. TEAMORIGIN, Great Britain

7. ALEPH Sailing Team, France

8. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, Russia