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)

 

Azzura leads in Porto Cervo by Max Ranchi

 

Azzurra made something close to the start they wanted at their home waters 52 SUPER SERIES regatta, the Audi Setteima del Boche, today.

They returned to the dock at Sardinia’s Yacht Club Costa Smeralda just as the drizzling rain started, wearing big smiles after they scored a comfortable win in the breezy first race of the regatta and then took a second place to lead the season’s final event by two clear points.

While the Azzurra team, which has yet to finish a 2013 European regatta better than third overall, could enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done, no one could mistake the frustration of Quantum Racing’s hard driven tactician Terry Hutchinson at their second and third place finishes today.

Quantum Racing in Porto Cervo (Photo by Max Ranchi)

The American crew, richly studded with America’s Cup winning talent, may be well ahead on the overall 52 SUPER SERIES standings but Hutchinson wants to finish their season unbeaten, winning all four trophy regattas, and with that perfect goal in mind, converting their two leading positions at both first windward marks into that second and third, was deeply frustrating for him.

“ I want to win the regatta.” Hutchinson emphasised, “ I want to put our stamp on the season.”

In the brisk Mistral conditions, the wind just north of west and between 14 and 25 kts, smooth, polished crew work was a premium asset. With rain showers moving through to the south of the island and dark clouds passing overhead, there were always changes in wind pressure and some bigger shifts to use to full effect.

In the first race, the breeziest of the two windward-leewards today, Quantum Racing made the best start and seemed to be cruising to a decent lead.

TP52 Super Series 2013 ( Photo by Max Ranchi)

But at the leeward gate second placed Azzurra picked the right hand gate mark and then worked the right side up the second upwind, earning a good lift to lead over Quantum Racing by the final windward mark which they held to the finish line.

Azzurra could not be faulted on their second start. Starting helmsman and strategist Francesco Bruni – racing his first 52 regatta this season – might this morning have claimed to be feeling a little ring rusty after his months in San Francisco on the Luna Rossa AC72, but Azzurra’s second start – on the pin with pace – was as sharp as any. But although they had a small early lead over Quantum Racing up the first minutes of the upwind, the circuit leaders did steadily ease out ahead to lead around the windward mark again.

This time it was on the second downwind that the big changes occurred, Rob Greenhalgh – tactician on Tony Langley’s Gladiator – chose to work left into better pressure and a nice shift. He admitted later that part of the reason was to stay clear of a cluster which had developed behind after Rán Racing blew up their gennaker, but they made a nice gain coming back with Azzurra to steal first and second across the line.

Gladiator at Porto Cervo (Photo by Max Ranchi)

Langley’s Gladiator – once more burying the perception that theirs is something of a light winds specialist – paired a useful fifth to their race win and so lie third overall only one point behind Quantum Racing.  The circuit leaders Quantum Racing did have to make a small reshuffle of their crew today, substituting for a sick bowman.

Wednesday sees the first of two coastal races planned this week.

52 SUPER SERIES

Audi Settimana del Bocche 2013, Porto Cervo, ITA.

Standings after two races:

1 Azzurra, ITA, (Alberto Roemmers) (1,2) 3pts

2 Quantum Racing, USA, (Doug DeVos) (2,3) 5pts

3 Gladiator, GBR, (Tony Langley) (5,1) 6pts

4 Rán Racing, SWE, (Niklas Zennström) (4,4) 8pts

5 Provezza, TUR, (Ergin Imre) (6,5) 11pts

6 Interlodge, USA, (Austin Fragomen) (3,9) 12pts

7 Rio, USA, (Manouch Moshayedi) (7,6) 13pts

8 B2, ITA, (Michele Galli) (8,8) 16pts

9 Paprec, FRA, (Jean Luc Petithugenin) (DNF, 7) 17pts

B2 in TP52 Super Series( Photo by Max Ranchi)

 

Terry Hutchinson (USA) tactician Quantum Racing (USA):

“We went 2,3 but I am pretty angry as we went 1,1 at the two top marks and we turned them into a 2,3 and that is not acceptable for me. I expect more from myself and out of the guys we are working with to not miss anything. So when you get passed it is like a file going up and down my back, like a big cheese grater. In saying that our bowman was down sick today and Matt Cassidy slipped forward in the boat. We have an awesome group of professional sailors and all credit to them for doing really good work in difficult conditions. The positives are that we executed the starts we wanted, but we have some meat on the bone that we have to get better tomorrow.”

Vasco Vascotto (ITA) tactician Azzurra (ITA):

“ It feels better than Palma. We sailed very well this time. It is nice to have Cecco back on board it makes a difference. He has such great experience. He was trying to get us foiling (laughs).

Francesco Bruni (ITA) strategist and starting helm Azzurra (ITA):

 It was great racing today. I am always amazed how close it is in the 52 SUPER SERIES, there are just metres in it between new boats and old boats. We picked some good shifts. Vasco did some good work. Upwind we were not so sure about the right, we picked the nice shift to the left on the downwind and when you do that in this fleet it is always a nice jump forwards.

It is a great feeling to be back. It is great to be sailing here, it is like sailing with my second family, racing on these waters in the Mistral.”

TP52 Super Series 2013 (Photo by Max Ranchi)

PRADA Luna Rossa (Photo by ACEA 2013/ Gilles Martin-Raget)

Austrians Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher, double Olympic Gold medalists in the Tornado catamaran, have entered the upcoming America’s Cup World Series Naples, scheduled Apr. 16-21.

The duo will sail under the banner HS Racing and race under the US flag in partnership with ORACLE TEAM USA.

HS Racing is one of nine crews entered in the regatta, which will also feature America’s Cup World Series leader ORACLE TEAM USA, second-placed Luna Rossa Piranha, third-placed Artemis Racing White, J.P. Morgan BAR, Energy Team, Emirates Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa Swordfish and China Team.

Roman Hagara (Photo © Red Bull Content Pool)

“It is a dream come true for us,” said Hagara, 46, whose aim, along with tactician Steinacher and their crew is a top placing at the final event of the 2012-13 AC World Series season.

HS Racing’s crew also includes trimmer Herve Cunningham of France, bowman Graeme Spence of Australia and floater David Swete of New Zealand.

“We trained on the AC45 back in February in San Francisco and felt very good from the start,” said Steinacher, 44. “The boat is extremely difficult to handle at strong winds and it develops unbelievable forces, but we are happy to take on the challenge.”

Hagara and Steinacher were Gold medalists at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics. They are also the sports directors for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, scheduled Sept. 1-4 in San Francisco.

“It’s great to have Roman and Hans-Peter involved,” said ORACLE TEAM USA CEO Russell Coutts. “They aim to be serious competitors and this is a great platform to launch their America’s Cup aspirations.”

Emirates Team New Zealand© ACEA 2013/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

Familiar names are lining up for the final AC World Series event, with sailors such as Dean Barker of Emirates Team New Zealand, Francesco Bruni and Chris Draper of Luna Rossa, Yann Guichard of Energy Team and Tom Slingsby of ORACLE TEAM USA scheduled to compete. Sweden’s Artemis Racing will be helmed by 23-year-old Charlie Ekberg, Sweden’s top 49er sailor and skipper of Artemis Racing/Swedish Youth Challenge for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. The Naples event will also feature the return of Mitch Booth to the helm of China Team, while Ben Ainslie will skipper his J.P. Morgan BAR team.

Team Korea, previously an America’s Cup World Series participant and Louis Vuitton Cup entrant, has withdrawn from further competition in the 34th America’s Cup. In a letter to the Golden Gate Yacht Club, the team indicated it has plans to enter the 35th America’s Cup.

Last year’s AC World Series Naples drew crowds estimated at 500,000, who were there in part to catch the debut of Luna Rossa Challenge 2013. Draper led his Luna Rossa Piranha crew to a thrilling win in the final fleet race. The victory kicked off celebrations among the tens of thousands of Italian America’s Cup fans lining the Naples waterfront to catch a glimpse of their heroes.

The conditions were as varied as any venue on the AC World Series. The fleet race finale was held in light wind and turned into a drifter at the finish. That occurred just two days after big wind and waves saw the AC45s powered up and leaping from the wave tops.

- Naples (ITA) - 34th America's Cup - America's Cup World Series Naples 2012 - Final day (Photo © ACEA 2013/ Photo Gilles Martin-Raget)

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

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

 Emirates Team New Zealand took firm control of the Portugal Trophy Cascais regatta today when they convincingly won the 40 miles coastal race. While the team won four of the five 2009 regattas this is the first time they have won a coastal race. Puerto Calero lead the GP42 Series.
 
After they took the lead around the most westerly turning mark, off Cabo Raso, they were never challenged,  heading the fleet all the way down to the eastern extremity which was at the historic Belem Tower in Lisbon’s River Tajo.

Winning by one and a half minutes, the current champions extended their overall lead to a solid 14 points at the head of the regatta leaderboard as TeamOrigin, slipped from second place overall to fourth after they could only make a frustrating ninth place today.

The Kiwi team’s only minor hiccup was blowing out a gennaker at the Cabo Raso turn, but they very quickly regrouped and were able to dominate on the  long and very spectacular full speed run downwind in the strong northerly wind which gusted over 25 knots.

Audi MedCup Portugal Trophy Fleet Upwind (Photo by Ian Roman / Audi Medcup)

Audi MedCup Portugal Trophy Fleet Upwind (Photo by Ian Roman / Audi Medcup)

It was a demanding coastal race in every respect, finishing only 100 metres off the Marina of Cascais breakwater, where the wind carried the imprint of the buildings behind and so there was some place changing and interest until the end.

Matador (ARG) steered by Guilermo Parada (ARG) with Francesco Bruni (ITA) calling tactics made their biggest gains on this long run from the Cape and held on to second place all way round to the finish line, helping their climb back up the table to lie sixth overall.

But the frustration for TeamOrigin (GBR) will be to investigate why they slipped progressively down the fleet. They sailed a good race from a tactical point of view and lead early in the race, chasing Emirates Team New Zealand around the westernmost turn. But by the time they passed Cascais again they has already slipped three places, passed on both sides.

A ninth place finish does not do justice to their sailing as a crew today. TeamOrigin’s team director Mike Sanderson (NZL) admitted later ‘we just fell off the planet’ but that they felt they were slow before that turn, on the top of the upwind leg as well as on the long downwind, but they are looking at all options.

Third place across the finish line today elevates the Franco-German Audi A1 powered by All4ONE, skippered by Germany’s Jochen Schuemann, up to second overall but they are only half a point ahead of Sweden’s Aretmis, with TeamOrigin another half point behind them. Emirates Team New Zealand just need a solid day, a contrast to their opening here last Wednesday, to secure their fifth Audi MedCup Circuit Regatta in a row.

GP42 Series Puerto Calero pulls further out front
The breeze-on 20-25 knot conditions today were favorable to the Canarias-based Puerto Calero (ESP) team, who have pulled out to a 6-point lead over the nearest rival, Madrid-Caser Seguros (ESP) after seven races sailed. Their choice of a smaller heavy-weather jib looked wrong for the first race’s 15-20 knot conditions, but certainly came into its own in the second race’s gusty 25 knot blasts coming off the Cascais shoreline.

The first race saw the Iberdrola (ESP) team showing off their America’s Cup heritage, with flawless tactics and boathandling vaulting them into the lead ahead of AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA).

In the second race, Peninsula Petroleum (GBR) shook off the dust of a poor first race to win the start at the pin end and take an early lead, but the huge puffs rolling down the course put Puerto Calero into their own with that small jib, allowing them to take a lead they never relinquished. AIRISESSENTIAL also got back into the fray with much-improved crew work downwind and good pace upwind, but a broach suffered just after the last gybe into the finish pushed them back to fourth, behind Madrid-Caser Seguros and Peninsula Petroleum.

Portugal Trophy, Cascais
TP52 Series
Overall – Day 4
1. Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), 6+11+1+1+4+2+1+1,5= 27,5 points
2. Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER), 9+7+4+6+1+5+5+4,5= 41,5
3. Artemis (SWE), 3+6+7+8+3+7+2+6= 42 
4. TeamOrigin (GBR), 4+9+2+4+2+1+7+13,5= 42,5
5. Synergy (RUS), 8+1+6+3+5+8+3+15= 49   
6. Matador (ARG), 7+2+5+9+8+12(DSQ)+6+3= 52
7. Quantum Racing (USA), 1+5+8+2+10+9+8+10,5= 53,5
8. Cristabella (GBR), 2+8+3+5+9+6+10+12= 55 points
9. Luna Rossa (ITA), 5+3+9+10+6+3+9+16,5= 61,5
10. Bribón (ESP), 10+10+10+12(DNC)+7+4+4+7,5= 64,5
11. Bigamist 7 (POR), 11+4+11+7+11+10+12(DNF)+9= 75

GP42 Series
Overall – Day 3
1. Puerto Calero (ESP), 1+1+2+1+2+3+1= 11 points
2. Madrid-Caser Seguros (ESP), 3+2+3+2+1+4+1= 17
3. Iberdrola (ESP), 2+5+1+3+3+1+5= 20
4. Peninsula Petroleum (GBR), 4+3+4+5+4+5+3= 28
5. AIRISESSENTIAL (ITA), 5+4+5+4+6(DNF)+2+4= 30

Audi Medcup (Photo by Ian Roman / Audi Medcup)

Audi Medcup (Photo by Nico Martinez / Audi Medcup)

Grant Dalton (NZ), foredeck or mast Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
“ We sailed all right. We got outside Origin at the top, then we blew a chute out, which wasn’t that flash. It had a little nick in it. But I think we are going reasonably quick.  Matador was reaching pretty well, but probably it has surprised us. And I’d say the bigger surprise was for Origin how slow they were reaching. It’s the first off-shore race, if we can call it offshore, that we won, in the five regattas last year we had never been better than second so that’s good, we sailed quite well.”

Mike Sanderson (NZL) team director TeamOrigin (GBR):
“ The first lap we were going really quick and go great and in the first two thirds of the way out to Cape Raso. It was going great and then we just sort of fell off the planet, to be honest, before we got to the mark, and ETNZ went from where they were right behind us to getting way up inside us and we just assumed that we had some current on, or had just been particularly unlucky with the shift or whatever, but  athen from that point on it was a very tough race we just seemed to be off the pace.
“We were just off the pace. We were slow jib reaching and we just shouldn’t be. We don’t know if we caught something because the problem is that after you finish you go back as you drop the main, so even if we did have something there you would not know it. If we did not have something there then we are certainly not be going to be looking forwards to the coastal races in the future. We just have to work through it. That’s why we are here, to build on our team work, on our relationship with our shore crew and designers and we have to work through the issues. Long term you probably need the bad days more than the good . After a good days it is easy. After the bad days we need to be sure that we are being totally honest with ourselves, and getting the best out of each other. The guys did an awesome job once again Ben started well and Percy and Bart (Andrew Simpson) and Juan Vila the guys are sailing really well. I mean, losing places when jib reaching is unheard of, and so we have to get to the bottom of it.”

Jean Marie Dauris (FRA), bowman Audi A1 powered by ALL4ONE (FRA/GER):
“ We’ve sailed well, just in the first downwind we’ve made some little mistakes and didn’t round the mark very well and that has cost us some places where we could have been second. But we’ve sailed a very good second downwind where we passed a good number of boats, and rounded second. We got beaten by Matador on the reach but we are very happy. We confirmed to ourselves  that we can sail this boat.”

Francesco Bruni (ITA),  tactician Matador (ARG):
“ We’ve managed to move up very quickly on the downwind, it was very quick. The fleet was very tight and we gybed last on the downwind and then we were third down, and  and from then on we’ve made a good race, a good beat, nice manouvers, up at Cabo Raso, a good gybe, and we’ve passed TeamOrigin, it seems they had some speed problems downwind, so we held our second position but it went very well.”

Jose Mª Ponce (ESP), skipper Puerto Calero (ESP):
“We are happy with how we performed today  though in the second race our start wasn’t that good, we set our small jib today because the conditions were good for it but the start was just bad and with such shifty conditions it’s difficult to move up.”
Laureano Wizner (ESP), skipper Iberdrola (ESP):
“ The first race was great and the second a disaster. In the last downwid we’ve broached twice when blowing the kite. We got apart from the group, the first broach happened when we where blowing the spi and then in the second one we were jybing and the spi sheet got caught. We are all very level, so any mistake is costly, and this wind amplifies them.”

Audi MedCup (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Audi MedCup)

Audi MedCup (Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez / Audi MedCup)

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

Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo by Chris Cameron/Louis Vuitton Cup Auckland))

Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo by Chris Cameron/Louis Vuitton Cup Auckland))

The Swedish team Artemis and the Italian Azzurra squad both won thrilling matches on Thursday at the Louis Vuitton Trophy – Auckland, to advance to the semi-finals and dispatch their opponents out of the regatta.

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

Artemis came from behind to beat Britain’s TEAMORIGIN while Azzurra landed a penalty on the German/French boat All4One and led all the way around the race course.

Each pair in this elimination round were slated to race a best-of-three series but flat calm conditions on the Waitemata Harbour forced a change of plans to sudden-death single races for both pairs. 

Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio told the competitors in the morning that he’d institute a single-race policy if he couldn’t start racing by midday. A southerly breeze began to fill in soon after noon and the first race started at 13:40

The semi-finals on Friday will see Emirates Team New Zealand, top of the table at the end of the Round Robin, face Azzurra after ETNZ skipper Dean Barker selected the Italian team as his opponent. That leaves Mascalzone Latino Audi Team against Artemis. The winner of each ‘first to two points’ series will advance to the final.

Barker said it was always tough choosing an opponent, but he went with Azzurra, the team who triumphed over the Kiwis in the final of the last Louis Vuitton Trophy event in Nice.

“We know the guys well and maybe we will get a little bit of revenge hopefully for Nice. We always have good races against those guys,” he said.

Azzurra skipper Francesco Bruni said he was confident going up against the home team, who may have a perceived advantage in stronger breezes and their own boats – especially after Azzurra’s victory over All4One today.

“I think we sailed the boat very well today in difficult conditions. It was a very, very nice performance from the whole team. I think we are getting better in strong winds. We learn day by day; there is no secret that we would prefer lighter conditions for a match with Team New Zealand. But we are also happy to have a chance to race against them in their conditions and in their boats – we have nothing to lose.”

The Swedish Artemis team is rounding into form at the right time and enters the semi-finals with confidence.

“We have won four in a row, and had two fantastic races with the British, which were pretty epic battles in the list of America’s Cup races I’ve been in. I think it’s good training for us in preparation going into the rest of the series.”

For his part, Mascalzone Latino Audi Team strategist Cameron Dunn is sure it will be a difficult match. “We feel we are improving with every race – we started slowly, but we’ve been chipping away and getting better as a team. We had a very good race with Artemis in the round robins, so we know we’re in for a tough battle.”

Racing is scheduled to start with a warning signal at 10:00 on Friday morning. The forecast is for fresh conditions.

Thursday’s race summaries:

Race One: Artemis def. TEAMORIGIN, 00:38 – Britain’s Ben Ainslie seized the start of this sudden death match with flair and defended his lead through the first half of the race and multiple protests only to hand the lead to Paul Cayard’s Artemis on the second weather leg. The Swedish boat made the most of its advantaged starboard entry and pushed TEAMORIGIN below the port layline before the start. Hutchinson, steering Artemis, reported massive shifts in the 16-knot southerly and Ainslie would ride a big leftie into the lead. Pushed outside the left side of the line in the remaining pre-start seconds, he tacked onto port on a big shift and skinned across the bow of the starboard tack Swedish boat right after the gun. The umpires green-flagged the encounter but Hutchinson saw it differently. “Our bowman was saying, “We’re going to hit him!  But that’s the game.” 

A minute later TEAMORIGIN led by a boat length. Ainslie came back on starboard with a small lead and tacked inches to leeward of the approaching Artemis, who again appealed to the umpires, but to no avail.  A big shift on the left kept Artemis in the game and she was only one and half boatlengths behind at the top mark, and trailing by only seven seconds through the leeward gate. It was Ainslie’s race until several tacks into the leg he let Hutchinson get to the right in the oscillating shifts, with 400 metres separation. When they converged again, Artemis led by 46 metres. Artemis extended on the run with a damaged spinnaker and the foot tape reinforcing fluttering in the breeze. “What a brilliant job from all our crew, getting back into the race,” said Hutchinson. “In hindsight, we didn’t do it right up the second beat,” conceded Mike Sanderson, who handles the runners on board.  “But you know, we need to make sure we don’t kill the tiger as well. We have amazing talent at looking up the course and picking up shifts, and if we kill the tiger, we are going to be an ordinary talent.”

Race Two: Azzurra def All4One, 00:20 – It was all but over before the start as the German/French boat steered by Sébastien Col was trapped by Azzurra skipper Francesco Bruni and penalised for failing to keep clear. As the boats turned up for the line, Azzurra was able to hook in to leeward of All4One and Bruni luffed his opponent, drawing the foul, with his aggressive tactics. “I have been criticised during the round robin by my team for being too safe,” he said afterwards. “Today I changed a little bit, but the optimum is probably in-between.”

Azzura went on to lead across the line clear ahead and luffed up momentarily to gain weather gauge. Still bow ahead and to weather, she took the German/French boat out to the exclusion zone on the left side of the course and maintained her lead through eight short tacks.  The margin was nine seconds at the mark. Col overtook to weather on the run but as they both overstood the layline for the leeward gate and went to douse their gennakers, the All4One gennaker went under the boat, spelling the end of her challenge to the Italians. All4One joins TEAMORIGIN on the sidelines.

Artemis and Azzura Battle It Out (Photo by  Bob Grieser/outsideimages.co.nz/Louis Vuitton Trophy, Auckland New Zealand)

Artemis and Azzura Battle It Out (Photo by Bob Grieser/outsideimages.co.nz/Louis Vuitton Trophy, Auckland New Zealand)

 

 

The Synergy Russian Sailing Team and ALEPH Sailing Team from France were eliminated from the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland regatta today, leaving six international teams fighting for supremacy over the next four days.

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

Top seed Emirates Team New Zealand and second-ranked Mascalzone Latino Audi from Italy each won their races and went through to the semi-finals to be sailed on Friday.

Saved from sudden death by their ranking and/or their performance today, the other four teams were paired for best-of-three matches to be raced tomorrow. Standing besides a glistening, flood-lit America’s Cup in a formal ceremony at the Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum, third-seeded All4One skipper Jochen Schuemann chose to race Italy’s Azzurra. Sweden’s Artemis will race Great Britain’s TEAMORIGIN.

Auckland’s harbour lived up to its name today. Waitemata means “sparkling waters” and whitecaps dappled the course in mostly bright sunshine and gusty, shifty southerly winds that ranged from 15 knots to 30 knots. The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s race committee delayed racing three times waiting for squally weather to move through.

Paul Cayard, skipper of Artemis and chairman of the World Sailing Teams Association that is a co-organizer of the event with Louis Vuitton, put it best. “It’s a big breeze today and exciting for our fans and exciting for us,” he said. “It’s fantastic racing. We’re flirting with that threshold of tolerable winds and so far, so good, we’re dancing on the right side of it. We’re providing spectacular racing.”

ALEPH, the seventh seed, was eliminated in the third race of the day, beaten by Mascalzone Latino Audi. French skipper Bertrand Pacé was already planning for the next Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta in La Maddalena, Sardinia, but was quick to praise the boats and the organization in Auckland.

“It was a fantastic regatta,” he said. “The wind was hard to sail, the boats were fantastic as well. We enjoy a lot sailing these boats. For us it was a great event. For sure I thank all the Kiwi organisers. I still love Auckland. Even though Grant Dalton doesn’t like losing to the French!”

Karol Jablonski, the veteran Polish match racer who skippers the Synergy Russian Sailing Team, was philosophical. “We are out, but we sailed a good race,” he said. Noting the crew’s lack of opportunity to practice, he added, “the crew work was coming along, but obviously in these tough conditions 22-23 knots with current against you, you need more hours on the water together.

“We were just missing a little bit in every department, not only crew work, my timing, our trimming, our boat speed, our tactician, our calls where we go – it was everything. You know you’ve got to have a chain that doesn’t have a weak, weak, weak link. And we had some weak pieces.  During the event, we got stronger, and I think today we showed quite good performance.”

Race One: Artemis def. Azzurra, 00:32 – After a brisk circling duel the boats hardened up for the line on starboard with Artemis to weather. “We wanted the right. We’d have preferred more distance between the boats but we had enough gauge to live through the first shift,” Artemis skipper Paul Cayard said later. The right paid and Artemis forced the port tack Azzurra steered by Francesco Bruni away at the first cross. The boats were evenly matched in a series of quick tacks up the 1.3-mile weather leg but Artemis controlled, to lead by two lengths at the top mark. They forged down the run with big bow waves, touching 15 knots at times. Artemis extended at the leeward mark as Azzurra struggled to get the chute down.

Race Two: TEAMORIGIN def. All4One, 00:27 – Faced with the possibility of elimination today, this was a must-win for sixth-seeded TEAMORIGIN, and Ben Ainslie and his crew rose to the occasion. They circled warily with the German/French boat steered by Sébastien Col. Both boats wanted the right but the British prevailed and hit the line at speed on starboard and to weather of All4One. They were bow to bow off the line but TEAMORIGIN held strong in the weather berth and edged ahead. After five minutes, as the trailing All4One came over on port, Ainslie had sufficient clearance to tack clear ahead directly in their path. “It was an early gain, and then they controlled the race,” said All4One skipper Jochen Schumann. “We will see if it gets a little lighter now – some of these teams are really strong in the heavy breeze, with good crew work and a lot of power.”

Race Three: Mascalzone Latino Audi def. ALEPH,  00:59 – Faced with the threat of elimination, seventh seed French boat ALEPH entered the start box from the unfavored end. Mascalzone Latino Audi skipper Gavin Brady controlled his opponent Bertrand Pacé all through the pre-start, pushing him outside the starboard layline, then leading back to win the start. Pacé trailed by three boat lengths at the top mark and then gybe-set on a big left shift. Fate struck and his spinnaker exploded during the hoist. The race was Brady’s and the French were going home. “They chose a risky manoeuvre at the weather mark,” said ML Audi tactician Morgan Larson.  “Had they not torn their spinnaker they probably would have been bow-even with us on the run.

Race Four: Emirates Team New Zealand def. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 00:15 – With no wins in the regatta, Karol Jablonski’s Russian team had to win to survive for the next stage. They almost pulled it off but fell victim to uneven crew work. Emirate’s Dean Barker started at the committee end on starboard but he left just enough room to weather for Jablonski who squeezed through the gap before tacking off to port.  The right paid and the Russians led at the top mark. The Kiwi spinnaker set was flawless but Jablonski’s crew, two boat lengths ahead, crumbled under the pressure as Barker sailed through their lee. The Russians made more unforced errors but they continued to play the right and were only 15 seconds astern at the finish. “Every race against ETNZ, is going to be a tough one for us, you’re racing against one of the best teams in the world,” Jablonski said. “That team has sailed together for a long, long time. In one match with them you learn a lot. You do a small mistake, and you lose.”

Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo by Chris Cameron/Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland New Zealand)

Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo by Chris Cameron/Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland New Zealand)

Brisk breezes and high-pressure competition delivered a basket of surprises and some painful losses during the fourth day of competition for the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Auckland.

Louis Vuitton TrophyAfter a day lost to heavy, gusty winds, the moderate to fresh conditions today were still sufficient to test the eight international teams that took turns in match racing on the Waitemata Harbour on the Emirates Team New Zealand boats NZL84 and NZL92.

 In the second race, a collision between Britain’s TEAMORIGIN and the French team ALEPH earned the French boat a penalty, plus the loss of a point. Then in race three, Sweden’s Artemis conceded a healthy lead over Italy’s Azzurra when the spinnaker pole went over the side and they went trawling with the spinnaker.

With three days remaining in the round robin, the host Emirates Team New Zealand has a perfect record after a convincing win today over the German/French boat All4One. Azzurra, the young Italian team that won the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice is in second place with a 3-1 score. The two teams will meet in the second race tomorrow.

Currently four teams are in equal third place with two wins and two losses. They are All4One, sailing under the German and French flags, Artemis, Mascalzone Latino Audi from Italy and TEAMORIGIN. The tie between Artemis and ML Audi will be decided tomorrow in the fourth race.

Conditions on the Waitemata Harbour were perfect for racing with bright sunshine, blue skies and a 12-knot breeze that built in the afternoon, bringing with it some clouds and a brief shower. Crowds ashore watched racing on the jumbo screen in the Louis Vuitton Race Village in the Viaduct Basin’s Market Square but the best viewing was from the grassy slopes of North Head.

Race One: Emirates Team New Zealand def. All4One, 00:26 – ETNZ skipper/helmsman Dean Barker took the host team to a 4-0 record, never really threatened by the German/French boat All4One after a tense, scrappy pre-start duel.  Sébastien Col at the wheel of All4One was pushing the Kiwi boat in the last seconds as they came to the line but the Kiwis pulled off a down-speed tack and split away on port as Col was forced to tack and follow. The French helmsman pressed hard on the first leg but New Zealand exploited the dominance of the right side and maintained a comfortable lead. “The race was lost at the start when we left the overlap a little bit too late,” said Jochen Schümann, skipper and tactician for All4One. “They were in control at all times.  It looked good for us at times but never good enough that we could sail around them.”

Race Two: TEAMORIGIN def. ALEPH, 02:11 – With the breeze up to 17 knots the race began with a bang in the pre-start as the bow of TEAMORIGIN slammed into the stern scoop of NZL 84, crewed by ALEPH. There was damage to both boats and the French boat, steered by Bertrand Pacé, was penalised under Rule 16 for altering course. The umpires reported that as the boats turned out of the dialup, Ben Ainslie steering the British boat was keeping clear of ALEPH but the French boat turned away, causing the contact. Matt Cornwall mid-bowman on TEAMORIGIN said: “Obviously the French think we fouled them. Question is whether they swung their transom and prevented us from getting our bow down in time to avoid their transom.  They did close the gap on us and didn’t give us room to keep clear.” In addition to the penalty, ALEPH was docked one point for hard contact which the team said it will appeal to the jury. At the gun, Pacé started to leeward of Ainslie. The British boat consolidated an early advantage to control for the rest of the race as the breeze built to over 20 knots. The French enjoyed a great last leg and came storming into the finish only two boat lengths behind TEAMORIGIN.

Race Three: Azzurra def. Artemis, Ret. – Terry Hutchinson steering the Swedish team Artemis, with skipper/tactician Paul Cayard calling the shots, started strongly in their race against the Italian boat Azzurra. The Swedish boat chased the Italians deep into the start box before it breaking clear, tacking and starting on starboard with speed. Francesco Bruni had a clean start on starboard at midline but Hutchinson enjoyed an early lead that he smartly leveraged into a 44 second lead at the weather mark. But only for seconds. As Artemis bore off and set up for a spinnaker hoist, the pole end went over the side, was dragged aft and the pole broke around the shrouds as the spinnaker went under the boat. Game over. “The jammer for the pole slipped,” Hutchinson reported. “Down the pole came and went in the water and that was all she wrote.  The sheet went under the boat and the spinnaker went under the rudder.  It’s disappointing but we’ll debrief it and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes twice.”

Race Four: Mascalzone Latino Audi def. Synergy Russian Sailing Team 00:19 – After a pause for repairs, there was plenty of energy from Poland’s Karol Jablonski, steering the Russian boat, and Kiwi Gavin Brady at the helm of ML Audi Team.  Synergy had the advantaged starboard entry but chose to duck below the Italians. It the hotly-contested manoeuvres that followed, with two green flags from the umpires, Brady drove Jablonski above the line. Despite that, the Russians broke clear and crossed the Italians on the first tack.  When Jablonski conceded the right to Brady, the Italian boat took the lead and held it. Even a botched spinnaker takedown when the Italians gift-wrapped their boat’s bow with a messy late takedown was not enough to give the Russians a chance.

Provisional leaderboard after Flight Four:

  1.   Emirates Team New Zealand, 4-0, 4 pts
  2.  Azzurra, 3-1, 3 pts
=3.  All4One, 2-2, 2 pts
=3.  Artemis, 2-2, 2 pts
=3.  Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 2-2, 2 pts
=3.  TEAMORIGIN, 2-2, 2 pts
  7.  ALEPH Sailing Team, 1-3, 0 pts *
  8.  Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 0-4, 0 pts