Competition between Sweden's Artemis Racing and the French/German team All4One in thursday's matches epitomized the character of racing at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai today.
Racing against each other twice, each team won once and lost once. It was a pattern repeated in all but one of the other pairings, leaving the leaderboard bunched in the middle.
With just one match remaining in the first round robin, BMW Oracle Racing is unassailable at the top of the leaderboard with nine points. After that, the fleet is tightly grouped with just half a point separating the next four boats. Emirates Team New Zealand is in second place with 4.5 points. Sweden's Artemis Racing, Synergy Russian Sailing Team and the French/German team All4One remain third-equal on four points. Italy's Mascalzone Latino Audi team is sixth with two points.
Only Artemis Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand have a chance to improve their standing. They will race tomorrow in the final match of the first round robin. A victory for Artemis would see them overhaul the Kiwis to take over second place.
Racing in round robin two will begin following the ETNZ vs Artemis match. In the second phase of the regatta, each team will sail the other just one time, but a victory is worth two points. The top four teams at the conclusion of round robin two will advance to the semi final.
Kevin Hall, navigator for Artemis, is looking forward to the last race of the round tomorrow against Emirates Team New Zealand. "What we're seeing out here is very good racing so we were happy to go one and one. All the teams are going to have to be happy with one and one by the looks of it. It's tough racing and the teams are close."
, three-time Olympic gold medalist and skipper of All4One had praise for his team's win against Artemis after fighting off multiple attacks in their second race.
"I thought our strategy and our teamwork was good
," he said. "Obviously all the teams are getting better day by day. We're all getting ready for what's to come. Next round robin it will be two points for a win, so that will make a difference."
Ray Davies, tactician for Emirates Team New Zealand, said that their one win and one loss came down to what happened in the starts. "We were over in the first and gave Synergy a big jump. In the second race we pushed them over at the start. It was great work by Deano (skipper Dean Barker) and we got a big lead out of that and we only had to cover them for the rest of the race."
For every one of the Louis Vuitton Cup matches, a VIP guest sails aboard as the 18th man, riding in the back of the boat, right behind the skipper and experiencing the tactics and action up close.
Today's guests included English cricket ace Freddie Flintoff and Kiwi cricketer Chris Cairns. Flintoff rode with Emirates Team New Zealand today and was filled with praise for their smooth teamwork.
Although not a sailor, it's not the first time he's sailed on a Cup boat. "I sailed on the Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand in 1992 and it was cold and wet and windy
," he recalled. Dubai conditions were not the only difference. "I got stuffed in Auckland. I got put on grinding duty. I didn't make that same mistake today. I very quietly declined."
Flight One, Race One, Synergy Russian Sailing def Emirates Team New Zealand, 00:14
- Synergy's light nudge into the safety wands extending from the stern of the Kiwi boat was all it took to give an initial advantage to Emirates Team New Zealand in the pre-start. Kiwi skipper Dean Barker went for a start at speed at the committee boat end, only to be called back for breaking the line a split second too soon. Francesco Bruni sailed away carrying a penalty but led around the course, eventually increasing his lead enough to expunge his black mark with a penalty turn on the finish line.
Flight One, Race Two, BMW Oracle Racing def Mascalzone Latino Audi, 00:41
- James Spithill
exploited a starboard entry to lead off to the left at the start with a half boat length lead over the Italian boat. Gavin Brady split away and took Mascalzone Latino off to the right but there was no magic there and Spithill was never really threatened.
Flight Two, Race One, Emirates Team New Zealand def Synergy Russian Sailing, 00:33
- After a long dialup, Barker chased the Russian team off to the pin end of the start line, hooking his bow below their port quarter to control and push Francesco Bruni
over the line early. The Kiwi skipper tacked and started at speed as Bruni returned to start properly before trailing 100 metres in the wake of the New Zealanders. After that, Synergy never got close.
Flight Two, Race Two, BMW Oracle Racing def Mascalzone Latino Audi, 00:45
- Gavin Brady wanted the left and sailed off to an early lead as Spithill and the American team split away on the right, where they found more wind pressure, to eventually round the top mark half a boat length in front. BMWOR led at every mark, extending on the final run to win by 200 metres.
Flight Three, Race One, Artemis Racing def All4One, 00:05
- Cameron Appleton split away at the start of the closest race of the day. He took Artemis out to the right side of the course but the French/German boat made early gains before it fell into his wake. Sebastien Col, steering All4One, kept the pressure on and this was anything but a procession. At the leeward mark the boats were overlapped but Col couldn't break through.
Flight Four, Race One, All4One def Artemis Racing, 00:37
- The first half of this race was very tight. The boats split at the start, with Artemis again going right. When they closed for the first cross, All4One on port tack feinted and drew level to claim a safe weather berth as Artemis tacked below them. The French/German team proceeded to sail the Swedish team out beyond the starboard layline and led by eight seconds around the top mark. Cameron Appleton pulled back alongside approaching the midline gate but again Col held him out, sailing past the mark before leading back. Col's margin was still only ten seconds at the leeward gate but after that, the French/German team pulled away on the beat.
1. BMW ORACLE Racing, 9-1, 9 pts
2. Emirates Team New Zealand, 5-4, 4.5 pts *
=3. Artemis Racing, 4-5, 4 pts
=3. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 4-6, 4 pts
=3. All4One, 4-6, 4 pts
6. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 3-7, 2 pts *
* Scoring penalty deducted by Umpires
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