29 May, 2010

Field closes up at Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena

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 *

* Penalties deducted by Jury/Umpires