Saturday, 29 May 2010

LVT: Azzurra Concedes Point to Emirates Team New Zealand

Azzurra vs. Emirates Team New Zealand. Image copyright Stefano Gattini/Azzurra.

by Jill Campbell

Azzurra, the Italian team representing the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda at the Louis Vuitton Trophy, competed in their fifth race today against Emirates Team New Zealand. The Italian crew, helmed by Francesco Bruni with Tommaso Chieffi calling tactics, took an early lead but at the finish line trailed the New Zealand team by 13 seconds. With five races disputed out of the nine scheduled in this first round robin phase, Azzurra sits on two points.

Today’s match was an eagerly awaited one given both teams’ previous form: Azzurra defeated the kiwis 2-0 in the finals of the first Louis Vuitton Trophy event in Nice while Emirates Team New Zealand took overall victory in the event held in Auckland in March. Azzurra started well in 12-14 knots of wind to gain the pin end and lead Emirates, helmed by Dean Barker, by as much as 70 metres in the first windward beat.

On the approach to the mark Azzurra misjudged the distance between the boats and tacked short of the mark allowing New Zealand to take steal into the lead and round 13 seconds ahead of the Italians. Barker stretched ahead in the following two legs and won comfortably despite a very fast final downwind leg by Azzurra which allowed them to recuperate significantly.

Azzurra vs. Emirates Team New Zealand. Image copyright Stefano Gattini/Azzurra.

Tactician Tommaso Chieffi explained what went wrong today: “ At the start both teams fought hard for the pin and we managed to get it. Francesco Bruni helmed well, Barker tried to defend but in the end had to give in. For two thirds of the upwind leg we didn’t cross, we waited and approximately one minute from the lay line the shift to port arrived and we were able to cross. The race seemed pretty much in the bag, but then I made a mistake: I thought there was enough space to tack twice but there wasn’t. “

Riccardo Bonadeo, President of Team Azzurra and Commodore of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, watched today’s race from one of the YCCS support ribs: “Azzurra sailed a great race against what is undoubtedly one of the best teams in the world. The New Zealand team showed that they are experts in this complex discipline. Azzurra’s crew pulled off a splendid start and fought well on the first upwind leg but then Barker was able to slip in at the first mark rounding: a great display of strength, power and ability from Grant Dalton’s team.”

In the other races of the day Emirates Team New Zealand defeated Aleph, Team Origin defeated Synergy Russian Sailing Team and Artemis - skippered by Paul Cayard - suffered their first defeat of the series at the hands of Mascalzone Latino Audi. Synergy Russian Sailing Team took victory over Aleph and Luna Rossa defeated America’s Cup defender BMW Oracle Racing.

Tomorrow Azzurra will meet Team Origin, skippered by Ben Ainslie, in the fifth of six scheduled flights. The forecast is for west north-westerly winds of approximately 10 to 14 knots.

Louis Vuitton Trophy