22 May, 2010

Russia joins Sweden and New Zealand in three-way tie at La Maddalena

Russia's Synergy Racing Team joined Sweden's Artemis and Emirates Team New Zealand on top of the points table at the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena today as unstable wind conditions limited the schedule to just two races.

© Bob Grieser/outsideimages.co.nz/Louis Vuitton Trophy There were upsets in both races sailed as the Russians beat the America’s Cup champion BMW Oracle Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand went down to Oracle on an umpire-initiated penalty for failing to maintain adequate rig tension on the last spinnaker run.

There was plenty of wind off the little island at the northeastern corner of Sardinia where ten international teams are racing the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena but the shifty northwesterly breeze, gusting from ten to 20 knots, was never sufficiently stable to start races. The race committee waited five hours before starting the first race at 2:00 pm.

Synergy, which started today with a 3-3 win-loss record, scored a major victory by defeating Oracle. The Russian crew led by Poland’s Karol Jablonski has been steadily improving at this regatta. Yesterday, they won one and narrowly lost one race but today they made no mistakes adding the scalps of the America’s Cup champions to their belts.

The Russians big move came on the first spinnaker run of their race against Oracle as they overtook in 18 to 20 knot winds and then carefully protected their lead for the rest of the race.

Emirates Team New Zealand appeared to have their race against Oracle sewn up too, landing a penalty on the Americans just over one minute into the pre-start and then staying close to Oracle after the Americans took the lead on the first beat. All that changed when the umpires penalized ETNZ for failing to maintain adequate rig tension. The penalties cancelled out and Oracle sailed on to win.

Flight Twentyone, Race Two, Synergy Russian Sailing Team def BMW Oracle Racing, 00:21 – Karol Jablonski’s Russian team pulled off a nail-biter come-from-behind victory over the America’s Cup winners. James Spithill claimed the committee end of the start line and although the Russians enjoyed a boat length lead, he controlled at the end of the leg and took them high of the mark to lead by nine seconds. Synergy fought back to roll Oracle on the spinnaker run.

Flight Two, Race One: BMW Oracle Racing def Emirates Team New Zealand, 00:06 – An upset win for the USA’s Oracle which raced carrying a penalty imposed in the pre-start but got off the hook when the umpires penalized the Kiwi boat for failing to maintain adequate rig tension (a rule adopted for this event to protect the supplied boats). At the start, Dean Barker and ETNZ were bow-forward and led, but James Spithill and Oracle dominated after the first tack. Half way down the last run Oracle was still leading but without sufficient room to complete a penalty turn. They got out of jail when the umpires penalized ETNZ. The Kiwis are expected to appeal the decision.

Provisional win-loss leaderboard after Friday racing

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

* Penalties deducted by Jury/Umpires

Live streaming web coverage of the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena is available on the event website, http://www.louisvuittontrophy.com. The official site (in English, French, Italian and Russian) is also rich in team content, as well as features, audio, video and images. Racing starts at 0900 local time (GMT+2).