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12 November 2009, 01:00 am
Russia Scores First Win At Louis Vuitton Trophy
Azzurra and Synergy line up for their start in flight 10
Azzurra and Synergy line up for their start in flight 10

Louis Vuitton Trophy - Nice 2009
Nice, France

On a day where the leaders at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice Côte d'Azur kept pace with one another, it was the Synergy team of Russia that made the day's headline.
Synergy, led by Polish skipper Karol Jablonski, scored an historic triumph by beating the French and German team ALL4ONE. Synergy got the early jump off the start line when ALL4ONE became entangled with the race committee boat (going OCS and earning a penalty for hitting the committee boat) and then sailed to a victory of 1 minute, 30 seconds.

"This is a great victory and great day for Russia," said Maxim Logutenko, Synergy team manager. "It's the first time Russia has won a race on this kind of boat. The start was a present for us, but in the rest of the race we did a good job. Karol did a great job helming and we're happy with the crew work. We're getting better and better."

Only once before has Russia attempted to field a team for the Louis Vuitton Cup: That was in 1992, but the team never made the series. Synergy is here with an eye towards the future and the win was welcome because of the team's hard luck the past few days.

On Sunday, it led Emirates Team New Zealand before "hitting the wall" just three lengths from the finish line and could only watch as the Kiwis sailed past to take the win. Yesterday, Synergy led Artemis up the first beat until the mainsheet broke. Such are the growing pains for a fledgling team.

"We've seen a broad spectrum of opportunities and happenstances. It's been a good thing for the growth of the team," said pitman Josh Belsky, the American who's been on three America's Cup-winning teams. "We've got some good international guys in key positions. We lack some horsepower; we're probably the smallest team out here physically. But at the end of the day I look back and the owner, Valentin Zavadnikov, has a huge smile. He sees the potential for the future."

At the top of the scoreboard, Emirates Team New Zealand kept its perfect record intact with a 23-second win in its lone match against Artemis of Sweden. Team New Zealand has 5 points on a 5-0 record.

Britain's TeamOrigin, the only other undefeated team at 4-0, holds second place with 4 points. Italy's Azzurra is third with 4 points on a 4-1 record, and BMW Oracle is fourth with 2 points on a 2-2 record.

Fifth is held by Artemis (2-3), which is followed by ALL4ONE (2-6), Synergy (1-4) and TFS - Pages Jaunes (0-6).

The wind conditions were again tricky on the Baie des Anges. The morning offshore flow died during Flight 9 and led to a lengthy postponement before the start of Flight 10. The day's second flight was started in winds around 5 knots, and it was difficult for crews to pick a side of the racecourse. TeamOrigin's lone win, with a decisive 2-minute delta over BMW ORACLE Racing, came in the trying conditions.

"It's quite often a difficult decision to make whether you want to lose a lot to get the side you want, or whether you accept a close start on the un-favoured side," said TeamOrigin skipper Ben Ainslie (GBR). "Today was like that. We had to make sure we didn't lose too much in winning the left. We were a bit late and slow off the line, but it turned out to be the right decision."

The interrupted schedule means teams are struggling to keep their consistency from day to day with the sometimes long stretches of inactivity.

"The toughest thing in this kind of racing is one day you sail two or three races and the next day you don't sail at all," said Azzurra skipper Francesco Bruni (ITA) . "The key for our team is to keep our rhythm going, keep our concentration up."

Thursday's schedule

Flight 12

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

Flight 13

M1: TFS - Pages Jaunes vs. Synergy
M2: ALL4ONE vs. Azzurra

Flight 14

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

Flight 8

M2: BMW Oracle Racing vs. Synergy

Results - click here
Keith Taylor
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