Saturday, 6 March 2010

Omega Auckland Match Racing: Light Winds on Day 3

Omega Auckland Match Racing saw light winds on day three. Image copyright Chris Cameron/ETNZ.

by Ivor Wilkins

British triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie and his Team Origin crew continued to dominate the Omega Auckland Match Racing Regatta today and by the end of racing were the only team to have secured a semi-final berth.

Despite his fairly untroubled progress through to the semi-finals, Ainslie said there were no easy wins. “This is probably the toughest group of match racers I have ever sailed against in a single regatta,” he said.

Racing was called off early as the wind deserted the course and became too unstable for fair racing – in contrast to yesterday’s predicament when the yachts were sent off the course because of too much wind.

By the end of racing today, six out of the nine scheduled flights in the second round robin had been completed. Ainslie had amassed a combined score over both round robins of 13 wins and 2 losses.

BlackMatch Racing concentrating hard in the light conditions during a pre-start on day three. Image copyright Chris Cameron/ETNZ.

Behind him in second place were Karol Jablonski of Poland on 9-6 and Adam Minoprio (NZL) on 9-7. Bertrand Pacé (FRA), Torvar Mirsky (AUS) and Dean Barker (NZL) were all 1pt back on 8-7 – but Minoprio, had sailed one more match than the other front-runners, so the results are slightly deceptive.

With three flights remaining to complete the second round robin, Ainslie had done enough to secure a semi-final slot, but the logjam beneath him left the other three semi-final places up for grabs.

The match of the day once again proved to be a local derby between Barker and his Emirates Team New Zealand crew and reigning world match race champion Minoprio and his young BlackMatch Racing crew.

This was a real cliff-hanger, with Minoprio recovering from a port-starboard penalty to come from behind and win the match by 1 second.

Ainslie vs. Barker on Day 3. Image copyright Chris Cameron/ETNZ.

“It was very difficult conditions today,” said Ainslie, referring to the combination of a powerful ebb tide and very light, shifty winds. “So far we have managed to be on the right side of things, so we are looking forward to racing in the final four.

“Some of the top match racing teams might struggle here, because the conditions are quite unconventional,” said Ainslie, who has plenty of experience of sailing in Auckland from his time with Emirates Team New Zealand in the lead up to the 2007 America’s Cup. He is also familiar with big tides and shifty winds from his home waters on the south coast of England.

Minoprio vs. Dickson in the first flight on Day 3. Image copyright Chris Cameron/ETNZ.

Racing is scheduled to resume on the Waitemata Harbour Saturday with the remainder of Round Robin Two still to complete, plus the semi-final and final.

To hear it...

Try the LIVESPORT link or 103FM in New Zealand for listening to commentary by Peter Lester and Harold Bennett on the racing, from 10am NZDT (10pm CET).

To see it...

Courses will be laid off the Westhaven breakwater. A grandstand erected near the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron provides a great view of the entire course.

Round Robin One Results after 15 Flights
Ben Ainslie (GBR) 13-2
Karol Jablonski (POL) 9-6
Adam Minoprio (NZL) 9-7 (having raced one more match)
Dean Barker (NZL) 8-7
Bertrand Pacé (FRA) 8-7
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) 8-7
Magnus Holmberg (SWE) 6-9
Francesco Bruni (ITA) 6-9
Sébastien Col (FRA) 5-11(having raced one more match)
Chris Dickson (NZL) 4-11

Friday’s matches

Francesco Bruni and the Azzurra sailing team on day three. Image copyright Chris Cameron/ETNZ.

Flight Two of Round Robin Two: Mirsky beat Bruni by 14 secs; Holmberg beat Col by 51 secs; Minoprio beat Dickson by 41 secs; Ainslie beat Jablonski by 37 secs; Pacé beat Barker by 20 secs;

Flight Three of Round Robin Two: Dickson beat Col by 14 secs; Jablonski beat Minoprio by 64 secs; Ainslie beat Barker by 25 secs; Pacé beat Mirsky by 40 secs; Holmberg beat Bruni by 46 secs

Flight Four of Round Robin Two: Minoprio beat Barker by 1 sec; Ainslie beat Pacé by 18 secs; Mirsky beat Holmberg by 5 secs; Bruni beat Dickson by 42 secs; Jablonski beat Col by 29 secs

Flight Five of Round Robin Two: Ainslie beat Mirsky by 2m 57 secs; Holmberg beat Dickson by 26 secs; Bruni beat Jablonski by 21 secs; Barker beat Col by 2m 21 secs; Pacé beat Minoprio by 40 secs

Flight Six of Round Robin Two: Jablonski beat Holmberg by 2m 22 secs; Barker beat Bruni by 1m 38 secs; Col beat Pacé by 1m 6 secs; Ainslie beat Minoprio by 1m 40 secs; Mirksy beat Dickson by 1m 42 secs.

Flight Seven of Round Robin Two: Minoprio beat Col by 1 sec. The rest of the flight was abandoned because of unstable wind conditions

Omega Auckland Match Racing

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