Monday, 15 March 2010

LVT: Azzurra Loses Awaited Match Against Home Team

Azzurra racing on the Waitemata in the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland. Image copyright Stefano Gattini/Azzurra.

by Jill Campbell

The team Azzurra of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda Sunday faced Emirates Team New Zealand, the home team and favourite of the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland. In the most awaited match of the day Francesco Bruni and his team were unable to conquer this coveted point. The New Zealanders were able to strike their revenge against team Azzurra, who had defeated Emirates Team New Zealand by 2:0 in the finals of the last Louis Vuitton Trophy held in Nice, France, last November.

Sunday’s match was held in a very shifty breeze which compromised the performance of Azzurra right from the start. After a split-tack start with the Italians to the right and the Kiwis to the left, Azzurra with Tommaso Chieffi calling tactics, sailed into the right-hand corner of the course, while their rivals went to the left. The oscillating breeze went back and forth, favouring one team first then the other but when the two boats had a lateral separation of over 1km, the wind shifted all the way to the left, leaving the Italian crew trailing at the first mark rounding. In the spinnaker hoist, the Kiwis made the same mistake that yesterday forced the Swedish of Artemis to retire from the match against Azzurra, but the breakage of the spinnaker pole didn’t affect much the performance of Emirates Team New Zealand. The Kiwi crew was able to keep their rivals under tight control and conquer its fifth consecutive win.

With two flights still to go in this Round Robin, Emirates Team New Zealand is the only team yet to lose and leads the overall scorings at five points. Azzurra ends the day at three points, together with All4One, Mascalzone Latino Audi Team and Team Origin.

Francesco Bruni is clearly disappointed of having lost against the home team and admitted of having had some trouble in the start, but repeated that the key objective for his team is to learn: “today we wanted the left but I wasn’t able to get it since the Kiwis pinned me down too early. I found myself a bit at a loss and was forced to take the right. Then the wind shifted all the way to the left helping our rivals. Anyway, it’s better to make mistakes against Emirates Team New Zealand now rather than later in the series. We always knew that this Round Robin was going to serve as training ground for us. The format enables us to carry on and our priority is to learn.”

In the other matches of the day, the French-Germans of All4One (skipper Jochen Schümann) beat the French of Aleph (skipper Bertrand Pace); the British of Team Origin (skipper Ben Ainslie) defeated the Russians of Synergy (skipper Karol Jablonski) and the Italians of Mascalzone Latino Audi Team (skipper Gavin Brady) beat the Swedes of Artemis (skipper Paul Cayard).

Azzurra Vs Emirates Team New Zealand at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland. Image copyright Stefano Gattini/Azzurra.

Sunday the 18th man on Azzurra was the CEO of Mirsky Racing Team, a young sailing team led by Australian skipper Torvar Mirsky who is currently second in the World Match Racing Tour rankings. Francesco Bruni, too, competes with team Azzurra in this important circuit, having won the title of Tour Card Holder for the 2010 season, together with eight other skippers. Competing on this circuit is part of the long-term plan of team Azzurra which sees these regattas as a great training opportunity.

Key figures in match racing competitions, including the Louis VuittonTrophy, are the “umpires”, who can inflict penalties without possibility of appeal. The umpires are part of the strong contingent of race officials, volunteers and marshalls (whose job is to position the marks and control the spectator boats) that each day goes to sea with the racing crews, for a total of approximately 55 people. Match racing has very different dynamics and rules than traditional fleet raci ng. Marco Mercuriali is the rule advisor for the Azzurra team here in Auckland. Mercuriali knows very well the spirit and philosophy of this team and of Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, having competed with the first Italian America’s challenger Azzurra in 1983 as a grinder.

Monday Azzurra will face the other Italian team Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, led by America’s Cup and match race veteran Gavin Brady (NZL) with Morgan Larson (USA) calling the tactics. Monday the teams expect strong winds starting at 18-24 knots in the morning and increasing to 26-30 in the afternoon.

On the Azzurra website you can follow the race with live TV coverage (with a replay option), listen to the interviews, read the comments of the day and keep up to date with the news flash. The Azzurra Facebook page currently has over 6,200 fans which are increasing day by day.

Results after 5 matches
ALEPH Sailing Team (France) 0
All4One (France/Germany) 3
Artemis (Sweden) 2
Azzurra (Italy) 3
Emirates Team New Zealand 5
Mascalzone Latino Audi Team (Italy) 3
Synergy Russian Sailing Team (Russia) 0
TEAMORIGIN (Great Britain) 3

Azzurra crew
Francesco Bruni – Skipper/Helmsman
Tommaso Chieffi – Tactician
Tom Burnham – Strategist
Bruno Zirilli – Navigator
Daniele De Luca – Mainsail trimmer
Stefano Rizzi – Jib Trimmer
Pierluigi De Felice – Spi trimmer
Gabriele Bruni – Runner trimmer
Piero Romeo – Runner grinder
Nicola Pilastro – Mainsail grinder
Massimo Galli – Left grinder
Francesco Scalici – Right grinder
Cristian Griggio – Pitman
Luca Albarelli – Mast
Pietro Mantovani – Mid Bow
Matteo Auguadro – Bowman
Michele Cannoni – Pit Assist
Gabrio Zandonà – Coach
Ben Durham – Reserve
Michele Gnutti – Reserve
Giuseppe Leonardi – Reserve

About Azzurra

Azzurra takes its name from the first Italian challenger to the America’s Cup which was launched by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda in 1983. Azzurra finished third in the challenger series in Newport, RI, USA. The YCCS acted as Challenger of Record for the 1987 America’s Cup in Fremantle, Australia. Riccardo Bonadeo, Commodore of the YCCS and President of the current Azzurra consortium was also at the head of the Azzurra challenge in 1983. The new team Azzurra, launched in October 2009, arose from the collaboration between the YCCS and Giovannni Maspero; the team is led by skipper and helmsman Francesco Bruni, supported by tactician Tommaso Chieffi. Francesco Bruni has taken part in two America's Cups and three Olympic Games. Tommaso Chieffi is also one of the best Italian racing yachtsmen, with four America’s Cup and one Olympic Games to his credit. The rest of the crew is made up by match race, America’s Cup and one-design sailors.

About the YCCS

The Yacht Club Costa Smeralda was founded in 1967 by H.H. the Aga Khan, Andrè Ardoin, Giuseppe Kerry Mentasti and Luigi Vietti as a non-profit sporting association for fellow sailing enthusiasts. The YCCS is renowned for organizing international sailing events such as the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, the Sardinia Cup and the Rolex Swan Cup and in 2009 completed one of its busiest seasons – including two ISAF world championships, the Rolex Farr 40 World Championship and the Audi Melges 32 World Championship and three events for super yachts (Dubois Cup, Loro Piana Superyacht Regatta and Perini Navi Cup) in addition to the 20th edition of the Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup. In 2002 the YCCS competed in the Volvo Ocean Race with Team Nautor Challenge, supported by YCCS member Leonardo Ferragamo, with Grant Dalton and Lisa McDonald as skippers of the two boats Amer Sport One and Too, the latter with an entirely female crew. In the past the Club ha s also promoted international challenges such as Azzurra and the motor yacht Destriero, which to this day holds the transatlantic crossing record set in 1992. The Club’s members currently number more than 500.

Louis Vuitton Trophy

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