Emirates Team New Zealand (Photo © George Bekris)

 

In a thrilling winner-take-all final race, Emirates Team New Zealand unhooked itself from a starting buoy to win the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series New York with the high score of 52 points.

Another large crowd, estimated at 100,000, turned out on a sunny day and was treated to some very unpredictable racing. This after over 75,000 came out on Saturday.

Watch a recap here

 

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

No lead was ever safe on Sunday as the wind shifted through wide arcs from the west to the north and ranged anywhere from 5 to 20 knots.

“It was one of those series where everyone had good luck and bad luck, but we got our good luck at the end of the regatta,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby. “It was exciting and crazy at the same time. Today it was important to keep your cool and stay focused.”

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

The Kiwi crew, led by Ashby and World Sailor of the year and Red Bull Youth America’s Cup champion helmsman Peter Burling, was literally dead in the water at the start of Race 3. Crewman Blair Tuke had to jump in the water to unhook the starting buoy’s anchor line from the catamaran’s rudder. Making matters worse, the port hull was punctured by the buoy and water was leaking into the hull throughout the race.

“We saw the buoy coming at us with about 20 seconds to go,” said Ashby. “It wasn’t ideal but we were lucky in the end.”

 

The Kiwi crew’s luck came full circle on the next-to-last leg. They rounded the last windward mark in fifth place, about 42 seconds behind leading SoftBank Team Japan. But as all the crews began the downwind leg they sailed into a patch of no wind that engulfed the course.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

As the leg was perpendicular to the southerly flowing current, some of the crews were being swept over the course boundary. Land Rover BAR, Groupama Team France and SoftBank Team Japan all were penalized for crossing the boundary in the current.

The Kiwis, further behind, held in the middle of the course and when the wind filled in the Kiwis took off on their hydrofoils at 16 to 20 knots boatspeed, leaving the rest of the fleet gasping in disbelief.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

At one point during the final race ORACLE TEAM USA looked to be in position to win. Skipper Jimmy Spithill and crew won the start and led around the first two mark roundings. But Dean Barker’s SoftBank Team Japan grabbed the lead by working the right side of the course while ORACLE TEAM USA struggled on the right side. In the end the reigning America’s Cup champion placed second in the race and second for the series.

“The crowd was insane,” said Spithill. “Today was great for the fans. In these conditions you have to roll with the punches and keep fighting. We wanted to win but we’ll take the second place. The Kiwis got a Hail Mary there at the end, but you have to take your hat off to them and congratulate them.”

Third went to Franck Cammas’ Groupama Team France, winner of Race 2. SoftBank Team Japan placed fourth, Land Rover BAR fifth and Artemis Racing sixth.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

Illustrating just how challenging the day was on the short, confined racecourse, Nathan Outteridge’s crew won the first race going away but was then sixth in Races 2 and 3.

“We got a little bit of luck in the first race and managed to hold on, but we had some terrible moments in the last two races…” said Outteridge. “You can’t get people to come watch sailing if you don’t bring it to them. That’s what we’ve done here. When the America’s Cup is in Bermuda next year, in super high-tech boats, we’ll get some amazing racing.”

The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series now moves onto Chicago, June 10-12. After that it heads to Europe for events in the U.K. in July and France in September.

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series New York Final Standings

1. Emirates Team New Zealand – 52 points
2. ORACLE TEAM USA – 50 points
3. Groupama Team France – 44 points
4. SoftBank Team Japan – 42 points
5. Land Rover BAR – 42 points
6. Artemis Racing – 40 points

 

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Overall Standings
(After six events)

1. Emirates Team New Zealand – 244 points
2. ORACLE TEAM USA – 236 points
3. Land Rover BAR – 227 points
4. SoftBank Team Japan – 203 points
5. Artemis Racing – 201 points
6. Groupama Team France – 194 points

 

Photo © George Bekris

Photo © George Bekris

 

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)

DECEMBER 07: Americas Cup Trophy in New York City. (Photo by Rob Tringali / America's Cup)

DECEMBER 07: Americas Cup Trophy in New York City. (Photo by Rob Tringali / America’s Cup)

 

America’s Cup racing will return to New York for the first time since 1920 with Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series racing on May 7-8, 2016.

The New York event is one of six events planned during 2016, each featuring thrilling, high-speed competition, as six America’s Cup teams, with the top sailors in the world, vie for points that count towards the final competition for the 35th America’s Cup in 2017.

Watch the video here

This year, Emirates Team New Zealand’s star helmsman, Peter Burling, the youngest in the fleet, led his team to the top of the standings over current America’s Cup champion Jimmy Spithill’s ORACLE TEAM USA, and the highly touted Land Rover BAR team led by Olympic hero Ben Ainslie.

But the competition was close. In fact, the opening three Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series events in 2015 featured three different event winners, and four different individual race winners. The 2016 calendar promises more hard-fought racing on the foiling AC45F catamarans that fly above the water.

“Everyone is going to want to start the New Year off well,” said ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill. “But all the other teams have been out training with the same goal in mind, so nothing will come easy this year.

“The New York event is going to be spectacular. Racing on the lower Hudson River, in front of that Manhattan skyline, will be a huge hit. New Yorkers are massive sports fans and I think this will be something very special: thrilling, top-level racing right in the heart of the city. It’s going to be a great event for the America’s Cup and a great event for New York.”

Practice racing in New York is on May 6, with point-scoring races on the weekend of May 7-8.

Four events on the 2016 schedule have been announced to date:

Muscat, Oman – February 26-28, 2016; 
New York, USA – May 6-8, 2016;
Chicago, USA – June 10-12, 2016;
Portsmouth, UK – July 22-24, 2016;

Two additional Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series events are anticipated to complete the calendar, likely in Europe in mid-September and in Asia in mid-November.

“With six events around the world in 2016 our fans will have more opportunities to enjoy America’s Cup racing and follow their favorite teams and sailors as we build towards the finals in Bermuda in 2017,” said Harvey Schiller, the Commercial Commissioner of the America’s Cup.

“We’re excited to be able to add the new venues of Oman, New York and Chicago to the calendar, giving more fans a chance to experience the America’s Cup in person.”

The New York event is an historic milestone of sorts. America’s Cup racing was held in New York harbor and environs for 50 years, representing the first 13 challenges for the oldest trophy in international sport.

From 1870 through 1920 racing took place off New York. Beginning in 1930, the competition was moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where it remained until the United States finally lost the Cup in 1983, ending the longest winning streak in sport.

Since that time, racing for the America’s Cup has taken place in Perth (Australia); San Diego (USA); Auckland (New Zealand); Valencia (Spain); and San Francisco (USA).

In May/June 2017, the next America’s Cup will be raced for in Bermuda.

Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series standings (after three events):

Emirates Team New Zealand – 122 points
ORACLE TEAM USA – 112 points
Land Rover BAR – 109 points
Artemis Racing – 105 points
SoftBank Team Japan – 100 points
Groupama Team France – 82 points

About the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series New York

This event will take place from May 6-8, 2016, with official practice racing on the Friday and point-scoring races on Saturday and Sunday.

The Event Village will be in the Brookfield Place Waterfront Plaza, while the racing will be on the lower Hudson River off the Battery Park City Esplanade (between the Pier 25 basin to the north and The Battery to the south).

The technical areas for teams, race management and America’s Cup TV production will be based at Liberty State Park and Liberty Landing Marina, across the Hudson River in New Jersey.

About the America’s Cup

The America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sport, dating back to 1851, when the yacht America, after which the trophy is named, beat the best of the British fleet in a race around the Isle of Wight, U.K. The trophy won on that day was donated in trust through a Deed of Gift and has since become a symbol of immense achievement. It is perhaps the hardest trophy in sport to win. In it’s 165-year history, only four countries have managed to win the America’s Cup.

The America’s Cup is currently held by the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco, U.S.A.. On September 25, 2013, its team, ORACLE TEAM USA, completed the biggest comeback in sports to retain the trophy it had first won in 2010.

On December 2, 2014, Bermuda was named as the home of the 35th America’s Cup, with the iconic Great Sound as the race course area where the new America’s Cup Class boats (15-meter, foiling, wing-sailed catamarans) from each competing nation will race for the America’s Cup in May/June 2017.

The America’s Cup is honored to partner with Louis Vuitton as the title partner of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers and the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs. Louis Vuitton is also the presenting partner of the 35th America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton.

The America’s Cup is also proud to be supported by BMW, Bremont, ORACLE, Sail Racing, the Bermuda Tourism Authority, Gosling’s and XL Catlin; as well as: Appleby, BF&M, Butterfield, Butterfield & Vallis, Moët & Chandon, PwC and the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club.

America’s Cup updates are also available on your mobile device. Go to the App Store to download the official America’s Cup App.

For more America’s Cup and Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series racing visit The America’s Cup Website

4/07/2013 - San Francisco (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - Louis Vuitton Cup - Round Robin - Race Day 5 - ETNZ Vs Artemis Racing (DNS)

Emirates Team New Zealand today scored its fourth point in four races of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series.

Skipper Dean Barker and the Kiwi crew sailed the course unopposed because its scheduled opponent, Artemis Racing, is still assembling its AC72. Yesterday, the Swedish team said it hopes to be on the water by next weekend.

About today’s race:

Emirates Team New Zealand sailed the five-leg America’s Cup course
Course length: 9.89 nautical miles
Elapsed time: 25 minutes, 56 seconds
Total distance sailed: 11.44 nautical miles
Average speed: 26.52 knots (30.5 mph)
Top speed: 40.62 knots (46.7 mph) on the final reaching leg to the finish
Wind speed: average 15.78 knots; peak gust 19.7 knots

Quotes from Rob Waddell, grinder for Emirates Team New Zealand:
On the day’s race: “It’s always a good day to bring the boat in and not have anything major happen to it. It’s a fast and exciting boat, but there’s risk there. You have to make sure everything runs smoothly, and we’re looking forward to getting more racing under our belt.”
On his position grinding on Pedestal 2: “We named our crewmembers based on the pedestal, but we quite like names like ‘freestyler’ and things like that. So we might have to get more inventive than ‘Pedestal 2.’ Where I stand on Pedestal 2 is more in the aft end of the boat so I tend to be more tied up with wing trim. But you end up going throughout boat. I think a skill of the crew is knowing what to prioritize and what’s important and when to do it.”
Waddell won a gold medal in the single sculls in the 2000 Olympics, and he commented on the physical exertion compared to grinding on an AC72: “They’re both physical. The new AC72’s a really physical boat. It’s equally demanding as anything I’ve done in a single scull. I guess the difference is that in the scull you’re doing a 7-minute sustained push. You don’t really stop in the 30 or 40 minutes of racing the AC72, but it’s very loaded, very heavy and lots of it. You come off wishing you were fitter, stronger, faster, but you do what you can.”

Quotes from David Carr, grinder for Luna Rossa Challenge, guest commentator on the host broadcast:
“Difference between a foiling jibe and non-foiling jibe is about 100 meters.”
“Perfect foiling height is about one-half meter above the water.”

The schedule ahead:
Tuesday, July 16, Artemis Racing vs. Luna Rossa Challenge
Thursday, July 18, Artemis Racing vs. Emirates Team New Zealand
Saturday, July 20, Luna Rossa Challenge vs. Artemis Racing
Sunday, July 21, Emirates Team New Zealand vs. Luna Rossa Challenge

14/07/2013 - San Francisco (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - Louis Vuitton Cup - Round Robin - Race Day 5 - ETNZ Vs Artemis Racing (DNS)

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

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.”