NAKAMURA and his crew led from start to finish on a track full of pitfalls with patchy winds and a very strong outgoing tide.
After a good start, NAKAMURA and his crew adopted unconventional tactics to score their victory. 'We are not so good at tacking and gybing, so we did not try to cover BARKER. We just sailed our own race.'
SPITHILL and his crew travelled direct from Valencia, Spain, where they have been in winter training for the America's Cup, while NEUGODNIKOV took time out from playing ice-hockey in -25°C conditions to compete in the ISAF Grade 1 regatta hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
'We arrived here a week ago and we did some training with the Squadron's Youth Programme,' said NEUGODNIKOV. 'That was very good. We have raced against SPITHILL five or six times before, but that was our first win,' added the Russian, who is ranked 7 on the ISAF World Match Race Rankings.
© Ivor Wilkins/
By the end of the day, six flights of the first round robin had been completed. BARKER was one of four skippers sharing the top of the leaderboard on 4-2. SPITHILL was also in that group along with world #2 Ian WILLIAMS (GBR) and world #3 Matthieu RICHARD (FRA).
Just behind them on a 3-3 record were the Russian team and the Simon MINOPRIO and Adam MINOPRIO, the two brothers who are both skippering leading New Zealand crews. Brian ANGEL (USA) and New Zealander Simon DICKEY were on 2-4, while NAKAMURA had to content himself with his sole victory over BARKER at 1-5.
Ten teams from seven nations are competing in the Auckland Match Racing Cup. The regatta format features two round robins, followed by a semi-final and final on the weekend.