Sunday, 22 November 2009
Synergy secures spot in top four with thrilling win over Azzurra
The Artemis crew prepares for a leeward mark rounding ahead of TFS - PagesJaunes. Image copyright Bob Grieser/outsideimages.co.nz | Louis Vuitton Trophy, Nice Côte d'Azur.
by Chloe Daycard
There’s one match outstanding to complete the round robin at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice Côte d’Azur, but the four semi-finalists are confirmed.
Emirates Team New Zealand will win the round robin and have the opportunity to select its opponent in the semis. Team New Zealand didn’t race today and has one match remaining, against upstart Synergy Russian Sailing Team, but the veteran team led by skipper Dean Barker has a 9-1 record and cannot lose the top spot.
Artemis behind BMW ORACLE Racing. Image copyright Frank Socha.
The Kiwis will pick their opponent from a group including TeamOrigin (8-3) of the U.K., Azzurra (7-4) of Italy or Synergy. After starting the regatta 0-3, the Russian crew today won its fifth consecutive match and sixth out of seven with a hard-fought victory over Azzurra. Synergy now stands at 6-4.
Spinnaker takedown on BMW ORACLE Racing. Image copyright Frank Socha.
The second half of the leaderboard has Artemis (5-6) in fifth, BMW Oracle Racing (4-7) in sixth, All4One (3-8) in seventh and TFS – PagesJaunes (1-10) in eighth. These four teams will race a knockout round to determine places 5th though 8th concurrent with the semi finals.
“We’re getting stuff done, but it hasn’t been easy,” said Peter “Luigi” Reggio, principal race officer for the regatta. “The last two days have been very similar to each other, unlike the eight or so before that; every day was different. In the last race we had 13, 14 knots. In the second flight we started to see whitecaps. We haven’t seen those since last Tuesday.”
BMW ORACLE Racing helmsman Gavin Brady (centre). Image copyright Frank Socha.
After the morning northerly blew itself out today the wind shifted to the east and built. Synergy ensured its advance to the semis with the win over Azzurra in a classic match race.
The two crews were rarely separated by more than two boatlengths, but there was only one “Y” flag requesting a ruling from the on-water umpires. It was in the pre-start and it was green.
Artemis' trimmer Robbie Naismith. Image copyright Frank Socha.
Synergy again got the right-hand side of the start line and Azzurra started at the pin. The Italians quickly tacked to port once on the racecourse and a tacking duel ensued up the 1.4-nautical mile leg to the windward mark with Synergy protecting the right side of the course.
There were stretches where the two yachts sailed overlapped on the same tack for up to 2 minutes, with neither showing a real speed edge. During one stretch on port tack Synergy, to leeward, was able to foot out and force Azzurra to tack away. Synergy then covered in a windward position and drove the match to the port layline to round the windward mark with an 8-second advantage.
Azzurra makes a run at Synergy. Image copyright Paul Todd/OutsideImages.co.nz
The delta was down to 5 seconds at the leeward gate, but Synergy bumped it back up to 15 seconds at the second windward mark.
Azzurra was making a charge on the run to the finish, having closed to within one boatlength. But after a jibe to port Azzurra hardened up to roll over the top of Synergy. Then, with the asymmetric spinnaker loaded, the sail split from luff to leech just below the head patch. Race over.
“I think Synergy was strong on us but by pushing to edge we thought their spinnaker might blow. It was a 50-50 chance,” said Francesco Bruni, Azzurra skipper. “That was one of best races I’ve ever sailed in Cup boats. I really enjoyed it. Every leg was close and each crew did a fantastic job.”
Artemis rounds ahead of TFS - Pages Jaunes. Image copyright Bob Grieser/OutsideImages.co.nz
Despite the closeness at that stage of the race, Synergy skipper Karol Jablonski felt in control of the match. He was positioned to leeward and ahead and it would’ve been a long way around for Azzurra.
“These spinnakers are more for downwind sailing so when you heat up you don’t go faster. The sail just loads up,” Jablonski said.
Retrieving the kite from the rigging on TFS - Pages Jaunes.
Although the leaderboard is determined, the pairings for the semi finalists and knockout round won’t be announced until after tomorrow’s race. The match between Emirates Team New Zealand and Synergy is scheduled to start at 1210 CET.
Other matches today included BMW Oracle Racing defeating Artemis by 36 seconds, TeamOrigin beating All4One by 48 seconds, Azzurra beating BMW Oracle by 1:01 and Artemis defeating TFS – PagesJaunes by 1:03.
Foredeck crew in action on board Artemis. Image copyright Frank Socha.
Round Robin 2 : Flights 6, 8, 7 summary
BMW Oracle Racing defeats Artemis in final match of day
M1: Azzurra d. BMW Oracle Racing – Delta: 1:01
What can go wrong will go wrong. It's been a case of tough luck for BMW Oracle Racing at the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Nice. Today the crew sailed over the asymmetric spinnaker at the leeward gate in its match against Azzurra. Image copyright Bob Grieser/outsideimages.co.nz | Louis Vuitton Trophy, Nice Côte d'Azur.
Azzurra booked its ticket to the semi finals with this victory over BMW Oracle Racing. Azzurra gained a slim lead on the first beat and rounded the windward mark just 9 seconds ahead. The Italians increased that advantage to 25 seconds at the leeward gate, but then was aided by a problem aboard BMW Oracle Racing. The crew had trouble gathering the A2 asymmetric spinnaker when the halyard got jammed during the douse. It took nearly one-third of the second beat for the crew to wrestle the A2 below decks. By the time it was under control the pair was on the port tack layline and BMW Oracle had few options but to follow the rest of the way around the course.
Azzurra remains in third on the scoreboard with a 7-3 record and BMW Oracle holds in sixth at 3-7.
M2: TeamOrigin d. All4One – Delta: 48 seconds
TeamOrigin in mid-gybe ahead of ALL4ONE. Image copyright Frank Socha.
TeamOrigin completes its participation in the round robin with an 8-3 record. The British crew led by skipper Ben Ainslie put forth a workman-like effort in downing All4One. The Brits gained the lead on the first beat. With both yachts on starboard tack TeamOrigin seemed to foot out to leeward. When both tacked to port TEamOrigin was to windward and rode All4One past the starboard layline. TeamOrigin led at the first mark by 23 seconds and covered the rest of the way around the course for the victory. All4One closes the round robin with a 3-8 record and in seventh place.
M1: Synergy d. Azzurra – Delta: 1:02
After sailing within two lengths of each other around the racecourse, Synergy won an exciting race against Azzurra when the Italian's asymmetric spinnaker tore. Image copyright Paul Todd/outsideimages.co.nz | Louis Vuitton Trophy, Nice Côte d'Azur.
Synergy Russia Sailing Team cemented its place in the semi finals with a wire-to-wire win over Azzurra. Synergy’s win was aided when Azzurra’s asymmetric spinnaker split just below the head patch on the run to the finish, but at the time Synergy was protecting a lead it established on the first windward leg.
Synergy wanted the right off the start line and won it in the pre-start, starting at the committee boat end of the line on port tack. Azzurra was on starboard at the pin end but tacked to port immediately after getting onto the racecourse. This was a great match up the first beat, with Synergy protecting the right side every time the yachts came together. Synergy eventually used the power of starboard tack to drive the match to the port layline and led at the windward mark by 8 seconds. The Russian-flagged yacht led by 5 seconds at the leeward gate and chose to make a starboard rounding while Azzurra made a port rounding. That meant Azzurra had to jibe to the mark and then the crew tacked to starboard after beginning the beat. The two manoeuvres to Synergy’s none gave the Russians a little breathing room. Synergy led by 15 seconds beginning the run to the finish. Azzurra was making a charge on the run and had closed the game up to within one boatlength when the A2 tore from luff to leech.
Synergy now has a 6-4 record and has one more race remaining in Round 2, scheduled for tomorrow against Emirates Team New Zealand. Azzurra is through to the semis at 7-4, its round robin racing complete.
M2: Artemis d. TFS – PagesJaunes – Delta: 1:03
Retrieving the kite from the rigging on TFS - Pages Jaunes. Image copyright Bob Grieser/OutsideImages.co.nz
Artemis entered this match with a slim hope of advancing to the semi finals, but that hope was dashed when Synergy won the previous match. Artemis led this match at the first windward mark b 10 seconds and extended the rest of the way to improve its record to 5-5. But as helmsman Terry Hutchinson noted last evening, the crew has put itself at a disadvantage by not converting enough leads to wins.
Artemis now has a record of 5-5 and could get to 6-5 by winning its final match against BMW Oracle Racing. Artemis could finish tied with Synergy if the Russians lose tomorrow, but Synergy holds the tiebreak advantage because it won their head-to-head match at the beginning of Round 2. TFS – PagesJaunes finishes the round robin at 1-10.
M1: BMW Oracle Racing d. Artemis – Delta: 36 seconds
BMW ORACLE Racing has a good lead over Artemis. Image copyright Frank Socha.
BMW Oracle Racing halted its losing streak at four races with this victory over Artemis. With the wind blowing from the east between 12 and 15 knots, this was another classic match race on the first beat. BMW Oracle Racing came off the start line at the pin end with Artemis at the boat end. It took most of the beat, but BMW Oracle was eventually able to get to windward on port tack and drive the match out past starboard layline to the first mark. BMW Oracle led by 8 seconds at the first mark and then extended that a slight bit when Artemis had a rough set, the genoa coming down before the spinnaker hit the top of the rig. BMW Oracle then kept its covering position around the course to score a much-needed win for morale’s sake. Both teams are headed to the knockout round for 5th through 8th.
Louis Vuitton Trophy