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16 November 2009, 10:18 am
Russia's Synergy on Cusp of Semi-Finals At Louis Vuitton Trophy
Synergy on the cusp of a semi-final place
Synergy on the cusp of a semi-final place in Nice

Louis Vuitton Trophy - Nice 2009
Nice, France

Synergy today won two races yesterday to occupy fourth place on the leaderboard with a 5-4 record, 1 point behind third-placed Azzurra whilst Emirates Team New Zealand scored two wins to wrap up the round robins.
Synergy skipper Karol Jablonski and tactician Rod Dawson were wearing huge smiles dockside and expressing their pleasure over a job well done when Philippe Mourniac from All4One approached.

"Great job, guys. It was awesome to watch on TV," said Mourniac, the Franco-German team's navigator.

Synergy had recently completed a wire-to-wire win over TeamOrigin, restructuring the order at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice Côte d'Azur as perestroika revamped Russian politics in the 1980s.

Synergy today won two races and now occupies fourth place on the leaderboard with a 5-4 record, 1 point behind third-placed Azzurra. Synergy has two matches remaining in Round 2 and a victory in at least one would ensure advancement to the semi-finals.

"That would be an accomplishment. But we still have to win it," said Jablonski, the 47-year-old skipper from Poland. "Today we had a good day and we're happy with our performance in this event. Before the start, who would've counted on us going forward?"

The semi-finalists took shape today with Emirates Team New Zealand wrapping up the round robins. Kiwi skipper Dean Barker came out victorious over BMW Oracle Racing and TFS - PagesJaunes and leads the event with a 9-1 record.

England's TeamOrigin holds second at 7-3. Italy's Azzurra didn't race today but remains in third place at 6-3. Synergy is fourth followed by Artemis at 4-5. BMW ORACLE Racing is sixth (3-6), All4One seventh (3-7) and TFS - PagesJaunes eighth (1-9).

"The big deal for us is getting into the top four, and I think we're comfortable," said Ben Ainslie, TEAMORIGIN skipper. "It's about getting better and trying to get results in the semi-final sail-offs. All the teams are battling a bit with the conditions and boats and trying to get used to it all. Like everyone else, we're trying to get better."

If a few breaks had fallen differently in Round 1, Synergy might be placed even higher. The team lost a heartbreaker to Emirates Team New Zealand just five lengths from the finish line. It lost another match that it led when the mainsheet broke. Despite the setbacks, the learning curve has remained vertical.

"The important thing for our team is the atmosphere," Jablonski said. "We went through a difficult time at the beginning. If something goes wrong there are a lot of possibilities for the team to explode or not be happy, but we are holding together. We have good attitudes."

That attitude was evident when Synergy took down TEAMORIGIN. Jablonski started to the right of Ainslie, won the first cross on the right side of the course, and opened a lead at the first windward mark that wouldn't be overcome on the short, two-lap course.

"Both sides wanted the right, but we didn't want it with a bad start," Ainslie said. "I thought we were in position to make their start tough, but they did a good job squeezing around the committee boat.

"It's good to see those guys doing so well,"
Ainslie continued. "They've got some great sailors. It's good to see that when they get the boat handling side figured out they've got some smart sailors who know what a wind shift is and can figure it out."

Three flights remain to complete the second round robin over the next two days. And although the semi-finalists are taking shape, the day still belonged to Synergy, even if they have to scream at each other.

"We don't have a communications system on board, so we have to talk loud to make sure everyone's on the same page," Jablonski said. "The communication with the guy up the rig is difficult because he has to scream. But it doesn't matter. It's in Russian half the time so no one else can understand!"

Emirates Team New Zealand, Azzurra and Artemis each won their lone match of the day, which was shortened to two flights as light winds in the afternoon turned the Baie des Anges off Nice into a virtual mill pond.

After day six, Emirates Team New Zealand still leads the event with six points on a perfect 6-0 record. Skipper Dean Barker (NZL) and mates defeated BMW ORACLE Racing by 48 seconds in their lone match and have one remaining in the round against TEAMORIGIN. Based on the standings tonight the Kiwis need to win that match to win the round.

"We're happy with how it's been going," said Barker. "We've been sailing with the same crew. You run the risk of injury or illness, but we've had the same crew throughout."

Italy's Azzurra moved into second place today after winning its match over the French and German team ALL4ONE. Azzurra and skipper Francesco Bruni (ITA) lost the lead on the first leg and then regained it on the second, finding more pressure on their side of the course, to win by 1 minute, 56 seconds.

Azzurra has five points on a 5-1 record. It has one match remaining in the round and will place either second or third.

Azzurra leap-frogged TeamOrigin of Great Britain in the standings when skipper Ben Ainslie's (GBR) crew lost to Artemis of Sweden in the day's first match. Artemis skipper Terry Hutchinson (USA) put forth a masterful performance in the pre-start and cleaned out his British rival. Artemis went on to win by 45 seconds.

TeamOrigin's loss was its first of the event and dropped it to third with four points on a 4-1 mark. Ainslie and mates have two matches remaining in the round, against Team New Zealand and Azzurra. If TeamOrigin wins both it can still win the round robin.

Artemis solidified its fourth-place position with its dominant win. Hutchinson had been very critical of his pre-start performance in yesterday's match against Team New Zealand, giving up lateral separation late in the sequence. Today, he pushed Ainslie around in the pre-start and left the British triple Olympic gold medallist tacking to port almost two lengths to leeward of the line at the start gun.

"Today's start set up similarly to yesterday's. We just executed it better," said Hutchinson. "Yesterday's race was painful, but we debriefed and had good communication about what we did right and wrong. Today, we learned from our mistake."

TeamOrigin tactician Iain Percy (GBR) said the team put itself in a disadvantageous position at the start.

"We got ourselves a little late having misjudged the layline and gave them [Artemis] a powerful position," Percy said. "For people watching, some of those moves seemed to be wrong, but the reality is that when you are starting with them bow forward by half a length at the favoured end wide right, the race is kind of over. Although sometimes it looks like you are making more mistakes, in fact you are trying to give yourself a chance to get out."

The second half of the leaderboard sees BMW Oracle Racing in fifth with two points on a 2-3 record. BMW Oracle has two matches remaining, against Artemis and Synergy, and needs to win both if it hopes to move up into the top four.

Synergy of Russia today picked up its second win of the regatta and has two points on a 2-4 record. With one match remaining it is locked into sixth place because it defeated ALL4ONE today, which gave it the tiebreak advantage.

The French and German team ALL4ONE is seventh with two points at 2-5 and TFS - Pages Jaunes is eighth at 0-7. These two teams have completed the first round robin and can't move up in the standings.

Two flights remain to complete the round robin and organisers hope to run through them tomorrow. In an effort to get racing completed tomorrow's first start has been moved a half-hour earlier to 08:30 CET.

Tomorrow's schedule

Flight 14

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

Flight 7

M2: TeamOrigin vs. Azzurra

Flight 8

M2: BMW Oracle Racing vs. Synergy

Results - click here

Louis Vuitton Trophy
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