Sailing teams from the USA, New Zealand, Italy and France will contest the semi-finals of the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai starting on Friday.
The final places were set in stone when the Synergy Russian Sailing Team and Sweden's Artemis Racing were eliminated in competition on Tuesday in waters off the Dubai International Marine Club.
The USA's BMW Oracle Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand, seeded first and second after ten days of round robin racing, each consolidated their positions with victories in their respective races.
The New Zealanders denied Synergy a place in the semi-finals in a sharp contrast with the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena when the Russian team finished second, losing to the Kiwi team only after a closely-fought 3-2 series.
"We're pretty happy with our performance today
," said Ray Davies, tactician for Emirates Team New Zealand. "Against Synergy and against All4One it was pretty light and shifty and it's so important to get that first shift off the start line.
"We have had a patchy regatta to date but we've still qualified second. BMOR have been the stand-out so far but with these events, you gotta win the last race and not the first one. It's important of course to keep improving and we think we've done that."
The second race of the day saw BMW Oracle Racing, holders of the America's Cup, win against Italy's Mascalzone Latino Audi team, the challenger of record for the next America's Cup in 2013.
, skipper of the American boat, adroitly finished this race before it started, landing a penalty on Mascalzone's Gavin Brady in a tense pre-start maneuvering stand-off.
The loss could have been fatal for the Italians who were trailing on the leaderboard earlier in the regatta. However two inspired performances on Monday had boosted their points and their chances.
The French/German boat All4One eliminated Artemis Racing in their race today to clinch their place in the final four, a result that might have taken the sting out of a loss to Emirates Team New Zealand in the final race of the day.
"We could start the last race today quite relaxed,"
said Jochen Schümann
, All4One's skipper. "It's important to get to the next round and we made it! We sailed quite well as a team and we generally lost by quite small margins. The competition is very even. Now we have a new chance in the semi-finals."
Wednesday is a lay day for the sailing crews and a maintenance day for the shore crews. On Thursday, the teams will compete in a one-day fleet-race series. The semi-finals and finals will be raced on Friday and Saturday.
Flight One, Race One, Emirates Team New Zealand def Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 00:47
- The Kiwis came from behind to win. Both boats were early, head to wind, before the start as ETNZ split away to the committee while the Russians went for the pin. Francesco Bruni and his Russian team got off the line going to the left and found more pressure to lead by nine seconds at the top mark. Dean Barker and the Kiwis made up ground on the run and trailed by just three seconds at the bottom gate. They split on the beat with Barker claiming the left and making dramatic gains. Benefitting from a shift and more pressure, ETNZ led by 1:12 at the top mark and coasted home to consolidate their second overall place. The Kiwi victory eliminated from the semi-finals the team that finished second at the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena.
Flight One, Race Two, BMW Oracle Racing def Mascalzone Latino Audi, 00:15
- In the pre-start, America's Cup champion skipper James Spithill delivered a master class in starting to his rival Gavin Brady
. Two minutes before the gun and with both boats almost stationary after a dialup BMWOR claimed and got a penalty as Mascalzone turned to get clear. "It was a good time to come away," said Ian Moore, navigator for the American boat. "They tried to tack with us but they were slow so we were able to point right at them and claim the penalty." The Italian boat extricated itself and went right. It led for most of the first leg until Oracle spurted ahead in new breeze at the top of the first beat and never looked back. "We could have been more aggressive in the pre-start but a penalty for hard contact would have costs us points and we're already into the semi-finals," said Mascalzone Latino tactician Morgan Larson.
Flight Two, Race One, All4One def Artemis Racing, 00:22
- The stakes were high with both boats facing the prospect of elimination. All4One used the advantage of the starboard entry to claim the right side of the course in a soft, shifty westerly breeze. They started in tandem on starboard with Sweden's Artemis Racing to leeward. Sébastien Col
immediately tacked the French/German boat to port, ceding the early going to Artemis' Cameron Appleton. Three minutes later, Col crossed clear ahead by a boat length and a half to lead for the rest of the race and scupper Artemis' hopes for the semi-finals.
Flight Two, Race Two, Emirates Team New Zealand def All4One, 00:45
- This final match of the Round Robin would have no impact on the final standings, which was just as well for All4One. The race was decided at the start when Emirates Team New Zealand elected to take the left side. Shortly after the start gun fired, a big left shift rumbled down the course giving the Kiwis a massive lead at the top mark. Game over
Provisional Results after Day Four of RR2
1. BMW ORACLE Racing, 13-2, 17 pts
2. Emirates Team New Zealand, 9-6, 12.5 pts
3. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 6-9, 8 pts *
4. All4One, 6-9, 8 pts
5. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 6-9, 6 pts *
6. Artemis Racing, 5-10, 5 pts
The Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai is under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, the principal sponsor of the event.
Louis Vuitton Trophy Website - http://www.louisvuittontrophy.com