05 Jun, 2010

Russian team wins opening final race at La Maddalena

Russia's SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team were unstoppable today, winning their semi-final match 2-0 and then defeating Emirates Team New Zealand in their first final match.

© Franck Socha Today’s semi-final was the faceoff between new teams featuring familiar faces and SYNERGY won, defeating the French/German team All4One 2-0. It was a sweet victory for the boat that placed fifth in the round robin, beating the top-seeded All4One skippered by German three-time German Olympic gold medallist Jochen Schümann and steered by leading French match racer Sébastien Col.

The two semi-final races in light air marked the first time in America’s Cup history that a Russian-flagged boat has reached the final of a Louis Vuitton-sponsored event. The new Russian team with a mixed Russian and international crew was prominent in its first Louis Vuitton Trophy event, finishing third in Nice last year. Her Polish skipper, Karol Jablonski is one of the world’s top match racers and steered the Spanish boat Desafio Español to the semi-finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup in Valencia in 2007.

The winds were light all day and Jablonski and his crew had to wait into early evening before their race against Emirates Team New Zealand. The Kiwi skipper Dean Barker deftly avoided a pre-start dialup, negating the starboard tack entry advantage of the Russian boat but Jablonski and his Kiwi tactician Rod Dawson won the pre-start battle and the start. The Kiwis came back to dominate the first three legs until the Russians took over at the last top mark.

"We are happy. It's been a tough match,” Jablonski said. “The race is never over until it's over. Obviously we had a good day at the office and tomorrow hopefully we have another one... You have these days when everything works fine for you and other days nothing works. But today we had a good day. The crew work was good, we had good communication, and Rod is making good calls. We did a good job and we're pleased with the result."

Semi-final Two, Race One: SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team def. All4One, 00:31 – A picture perfect starboard tack start, on time at the pin, launched the Russians out to an early lead of 64 metres. However Jablonski’s lead evaporated at the end of the first run as he chose the wrong gate. Sébastien Col accelerated away from the opposite gate to claim the advantaged left side and build a 30 second lead at the top. Both boats made poor roundings but it was Synergy which reclaimed the lead to finish first. Describing his sudden break for the pin in the pre-start, Jablonski said: “We gybed early and took a risk and turned back early because we liked the left. My job was made easy by the other boat. We had a long journey in this race.”

Semi-final Two, Race Two: SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team def. All4One, 01:15 – All4One’s early move to break clear of a dialup ended French/German hopes in the race and the semi-final. Col got clear and sailed away but gybed, returning early to the line. Jablonski followed, and hooked and broke the collision wand on All4One’s leeward quarter. Col was over early in his efforts to wriggle clear and was forced to restart, carrying a penalty. SYNERGY romped away in a building breeze.

Final Race One: SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team def. Emirates Team New Zealand, 00:34 – Jablonski was aggressive in the pre-start as the teams circled, almost getting a hook on the Kiwi boat and forcing them away towards the committee before he made a speedy start at the pin. The Kiwis tacked to start on starboard close to the committee. Dean Barker gained slowly on a long drag race well beyond the port tack layline and held Jablonski out to round the top mark first. They were level at the end of the run and the Russians worked the left to cross ahead of the Kiwis on port approaching the weather mark. Ray Davies, ETNZ tactician said: "It was a bit disappointing. A really good start and good first beat. We had a bad gybe set, but were still comfortably ahead. The left gate was closer, but it wasn't a nice rounding. We took the favoured gate but coughed up quite a lot. He was getting good pressure on the left and we protected the wrong side on the second beat... Those guys sailed a really good race... We let ourselves down a bit. It wasn't our smoothest day on the water."

Inshore, off the mouth of the Marina Arsenale, young sailors from the region sailed in the finals of the Louis Vuitton Junior Trophy in O’Pen Bic dinghies. Giulio Belliti, from Club Nautico Pesaro won the series and a place as 18th man in a race aboard one of the finalists tomorrow. Other top places were: 2nd, David Bedier (Club Nautico Arzachena); 3rd: Danilo Di Fraia (Club Nautico La Maddalena); 1st girl, Giulia Striglio (Club Nautico Pesaro); youngest sailor, 12-year-old Silvia Crisi (Club Nautico Arzachena).

Final Provisional Results

Final Race One SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team def. Emirates Team New Zealand

Semi-final Provisional Results

Semi-final One: Emirates Team New Zealand def. Artemis, 2-1
Semi-final Two: SYNERGY Russian Sailing Team def. All4One, 2-0

Round Robin Results

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

* Penalties deducted by Jury/Umpires