Wednesday, 11 November 2009

LVT: Close matches highlight day at Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice Côte d’Azur

Seven of the eight matches have an average delta of 31 seconds

TeamOrigin leads Team French Spirit off Nice. Image copyright Ian Roman/TeamOrigin.

Seasonal conditions returned today to the Bay of Angels off Nice and allowed race organisers for the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice Côte d’Azur to reel off four flights of races, eight matches overall.

The flurry of races has helped give shape to the event scoreboard. Emirates Team New Zealand won its lone match of the day and remains the top dog with 4 points on a 4-0 record.

One point behind the Kiwis in second place is TeamOrigin of Great Britain. Skipper Ben Ainslie led the Union Jack to two victories today and now has 3 points on a 3-0 record.

Third place is held by Azzurra of Italy with 2 points on a 2-1 record. BMW ORACLE Racing won its two races today and is fourth in the standings with 2 points on a 2-1 record. Azzurra holds the tie-break advantage by virtue of its head-to-head win yesterday.

The Artemis team from Sweden holds fifth with 2 points on a 2-2 record and is followed by the French/German team ALL4ONE with 1 point on a 1-3 record. Russia Synergy (0-3) is seventh and TFS – Pages Jaunes (0-4) is eighth.

Today marked the first full day of racing at the Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta and the action was superb. An offshore breeze in the morning gave way to a southwesterly in the afternoon. The consistent conditions made for tight racing with the average delta in seven of the eight matches just 31 seconds.

TeamOrigin sailed two close matches, winning by an average of 22 seconds.

TeamOrigin leads Team French Spirit into the sun off Nice. Image copyright Ian Roman/TeamOrigin.

“The nice thing about today was that we had 12 to 13 knots of breeze on the racecourse, the most we’ve seen since we’ve been in Nice,” said TeamOrigin General Manager Mike Sanderson. “We’ve had relatively little practice in those conditions so every minute on the boat is really valuable for us.”

TeamOrigin’s second win came in the day’s final match against ALL4ONE, the host team for the regatta, when skipper Ainslie closed the door on his rival in the pre-start.

“We nearly nailed Ben before that, but it changed from one side to the other very quickly so we made a mistake there,” said Jochen Schümann, skipper of ALL4ONE. “We had some options just a second before that. That’s how close it is.”

The largest delta of the day was 2 minutes, 5 seconds, and it happened to occur in one of the most exciting matches – for half the race at least.

Azzurra and Artemis traded blows from the pre-start right through to the leeward gate. Azzurra got first blood when Artemis and helmsman Terry Hutchinson were penalised in the pre-start for not giving time and opportunity as a right-of-way boat. But the penalty was negated at the top of the first beat when Azzurra skipper Francesco Bruni tacked too close.

Azzurra. Image copyright Bob Grieser/

The Swedish-flagged team led by a slim half-length beginning the run and extended that advantage when the Azzurra crew had trouble lowering the genoa because of an issue with the halyard lock. The crewman in the rig, Gabriele Bruni, released the snap shackle and the sail fell to the deck, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The problem prevented Azzurra from jibing to starboard with Artemis, which led to the Italian crew regaining the lead approaching the leeward mark. Azzurra took a slim lead through the leeward gate and then quickly extended when Artemis had a pair of bad tacks. Soon Azzurra built a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

“We had a nice leeward mark rounding and it was very light at that point, and I think they had a bad tack or something happened and we extended from there,” said Tom Burnham, the Azzurra strategist. “It got pretty light and shifty and we did a good job of connecting the dots and rounded the windward mark pretty far ahead. They came into us on the final run with a bit more pressure off the shore, but we were being conservative.”

Cameron Dunn (NZL) up the rig for BMW ORACLE Racing. Image copyright Bob Grieser/

Wednesday’s schedule

Flight 9
M1: Artemis vs. Emirates Team New Zealand
M2: ALL4ONE vs. TFS – Pages Jaunes

Flight 10
M1: Azzurra vs. Synergy
M2: BMW Oracle Racing vs. TeamOrigin

Flight 11
M1: ALL4ONE vs. Synergy
M2: Azzurra vs. TFS – Pages Jaunes

Flight 12
M1: Emirates Team New Zealand vs. BMW Oracle Racing
M2: Artemis vs. TeamOrigin

Emirates Team New Zealand leads Artemis. Image copyright Bob Grieser/

Round Robin 1 : Day 4 match summaries
The end of Day 4 sees two close matches, a fitting conclusion to the first full day of racing

Flight 3

M1: TeamOrigin d. TFS – Pages Jaunes – Delta: 33 seconds

TeamOrigin and TFS – Pages Jaunes took split tacks onto the racecourse: TeamOrigin on starboard and TFS – Pages Jaunes on port. TeamOrigin won the first cross on port tack about halfway up the 1.3-nautical mile leg and then applied covering tactics on TFS – Pages Jaunes to the mark. TeamOrigin led at every mark rounding to move to 2-0 on the scoreboard while TFS – Pages Jaunes fell to 0-3.

M2: ALL4ONE d. Artemis – Delta: 28 seconds

This pair produced a proper match race, with covering tactics from the leading boat and attacking tactics from the trailing boat. In the end, the French/German team ALL4ONE scored its first win of the regatta in two matches in come-from-behind fashion. Artemis led the match around the first windward mark and through the leeward gate, where it chose to make a starboard rounding. That proved to be its undoing. ALL4ONE made a port rounding and took the lead as the mark was further upwind. ALL4ONE protected its starboard-tack advantage up the second beat, even dialing down Artemis at a crossing about three-quarters of the way up the leg.

It was the run to the finish that proved most exciting. Artemis trailed by 11 seconds at the windward mark and jibed to starboard soon after the rounding. It was the third convergence where the two were nearly bow-to-bow. Artemis had to jibe back to starboard to avoid fouling ALL4ONE, but hit a bad set of waves and the jibe went awry. The A2 spinnaker got twisted and ALL4ONE was able to open a three-boatlength lead, which it held to the finish. Both teams now stand at 1-1 on the scoreboard.

Flight 4

M1: BMW Oracle Racing d. ALL4ONE – Delta: 48 seconds

This match was the definition of irony for this regatta: BMW Oracle, sailing ALL4ONE’s FRA-93, defeated the combined French/German team. It was BMW Oracle’s first win of the regatta in two matches and ALL4ONE’s second loss in three matches.

Both crews started at the pin end of the line with BMW Oracle to leeward. ALL4ONE couldn’t live in BMWO’s dirty air and tacked away to port. At the first meeting BMW Oracle put a leebow tack on ALL4ONE, forcing the crew back to the right side. At the second meeting BMW Oracle was able to cross to the right. BMW Oracle opened its lead to nearly 100 metres proaching the windward mark, and was never threatened the rest of the match.

M2: Azzurra d. Artemis – Delta: 2:00

Paired in ITA-90 and ITA-99, this match was extremely close around most of the first lap. Artemis was penalised in the pre-start for failing to keep clear while Azzurra was pushing from behind. The two yachts started on starboard at the pin end, but Azzurra had the leeward position and Artemis had to tack away after clearing the start line. The pair engaged in a classic match race, trading tacks up the middle of the beat. Artemis was able to gain the lead at the top of the beat when it held starboard tack and rode Azzurra past the port-tack layline to the mark. On the last leebow tack Azzurra was deemed to have tacked too close and was penalized, offsetting Artemis’ penalty from the pre-start.

Both crews had clean hoists around the windward mark, but Azzurra had trouble lowering its genoa. The sail was up and robbing the A2 gennaker of wind for more than two minutes. Artemis was able to open its lead to 2 or 3 boatlengths, and then jibed to starboard. Artemis couldn’t jibe because it was still wrestling with the genoa. But that problem proved to be a saving grace.

Artemis, on starboard jibe, found a nice header but was too far to the left side of the racecourse (looking upwind). When it jibed back to port to approach the leeward gate, Azzurra was on the inside and jibed to port to cover. Azzurra led through the leeward gate by almost three boatlengths.

At the beginning of the second beat Artemis had two bad tacks and Azzurra opened a sizable lead that it maintained through to the finish.

Flight 5

M1: Emirates Team New Zealand d. Azzurra – Delta: 25 seconds

An anticipated match turned lacklustre when Azzurra was OCS at the start. The error was unforced on Italian skipper, Francesco Bruni, who had plenty of room to dip below the line to start properly. His resulting turn back allowed Team NZ to open a nearly 100-metre lead, which it extended throughout the match to extend its record to 4-0 at the top of the scoreboard.

M2: BMW Oracle Racing d. TFS – Pages Jaune – Delta: 44 seconds

BMW Oracle Racing won its second consecutive match over a French team. In Flight 4 BMW Oracle defeated ALL4ONE, the combined French/German team. In this match against skipper Bertrand Pacé, TFS – Pages Jaunes was penalised in the pre-start. The French led at the first windward mark by 7 seconds, but BMW Oracle took the lead on the run by rolling over the top of its opponent on starboard jibe. Pacé and crew kept the match close but had few opportunities to attack, and the delta became skewed when the French performed their 270-degree penalty turn on the finish line. BMW Oracle ran its record to 2-1 while TFS – Pages Jaunes remained winless in four matches.

Flight 6

M1: Artemis d. Synergy – Delta: 21 seconds

Artemis and Synergy took split tacks onto the racecourse with Artemis on starboard at the pin end and Synergy on port at the boat end. Artemis had a slim lead off the start line when, less than 3 minutes into the match, Synergy’s mainsail dumped. Crewmembers of the Russian yacht appeared to be running back towards the traveller area, but there was no confirmation on the cause of the problem. That mishap, however, allowed Artemis to open a two- to three-boatlength lead. The match stayed very close throughout, Synergy was just 9 seconds behind beginning the final leg, but skipper Karol Jablonski and crew never found an opportunity to pass. The win improved Artemis’s record to 2-2 while Synergy remained winless in three hard-luck matches.

M2: Team Origin d. ALL4ONE – Delta: 14 seconds

TeamOrigin helmsman Ben Ainslie took the game to his ALL4ONE counterpart Sebastien Col in the pre-start and came out smelling like roses. Ainslie crossed the start line at the gun while Col was left to tack to starboard off the stern of the committee boat. Ainslie opened the race with a four-boatlength lead, which was a critical margin given that the match was never separated by more than five lengths. ALL4ONE tried attacking on the first run, but TeamOrigin fended off every thrust, jab and parry. The deltas were 7 seconds at the first windward mark, 9 seconds at the leeward gate and 28 seconds at the second windward mark. It was an exciting race and perfect conclusion to the first full day of racing at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice Côte d’Azur.

Louis Vuitton Trophy

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