Italy's Azzurra of the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda today won its first match of the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice Côte d'Azur while Emirates Team New Zealand survived a hair-raising finish to keep its record perfect.
Azzurra scored the victory it was denied on Saturday when it defeated BMW ORACLE Racing of the U.S. Two days ago the Italian crew, led by skipper Francesco Bruni, was 200 metres from the finish line when the 20-minute leg time limit expired.
Today, the Italians scored an emphatic win of 2 minutes and 56 seconds to the pleasure of YCCS Commodore Riccardo Bonadero, who rode with his team as 18th man, and displeasure of BMW Oracle founder Larry Ellison, who was among his team's afterguard.
“The team did a very good job all over the course,” said Bruni, the skipper from Sicily. “We didn't feel robbed Saturday; we understand rules are rules. We wished the race committee had shortened the course, but we're all learning. We are very happy about this point, it was very important for us.”
The two crews took split tacks onto the racecourse with BMW Oracle on starboard and Azzurra on port. Each crew got the side it wanted, but the wind shifted to the right and gave the Italians an advantage they wouldn't relinquish.
“They got the first good shift and we were behind from there,” said BMW Oracle strategist Cameron Dunn of Australia. “We were happy coming off the line where we were, but the conditions were changing very quickly. When we came back at them the wind shifted right and they were wound up to layline. From there it was a soldier's course, marching along. They sailed very well, so good on them.”
Emirates Team New Zealand entered its match against Russia's Synergy Team with a perfect 2-0 mark while Synergy was 0-1. For a while it appeared that each team's zero would be wiped from its scoreline. In the end this turned out to be the most exciting match of the regatta still in its early days.
Synergy led Team New Zealand by four to five boatlengths within 10 lengths of the finish line in very light and shifty winds. Then the Kiwis found a private puff and rolled over the top of the Russian team, which was dead in the water, and won by 22 seconds.
The Kiwis kept their record perfect at 3-0 and Synergy dropped to 0-2. The loss was crushing for Synergy skipper Karol Jablonski of Poland, who rallied his crew to lead the match after being over early at the start.
“Yeah it hurts,” said Jablonski, a match race world champion and three-time DN Ice Boat world champion. “I knew it was going to be tough to the finish because I could see the finish line and there was no wind at it. Everything can happen in one puff. We couldn't do anything.”
The Kiwis kept their heads down and persevered. After rolling Synergy the spinnaker blew back into the rig, so the crew dropped it on deck and crossed the finish line without a headsail.
“We'll take the point, but it's not the kind of conditions we want to sail in,” said Dean Barker, Emirates Team New Zealand skipper. “We worked hard to get back at them. They would gain, then we would take back some of it, but it looked like there was no way around them.”
The two matches were the only ones completed as regatta organizers were once again frustrated by very light and shifty winds. Racing for the day was postponed at 1430 CET when the Bay of Angels was calm. Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio holds out the hope that tomorrow he can complete four flights, or eight races.
“If the breeze cooperates we can do four flights; that's not an issue,” said Reggio. “We're starting to see the sun shine now and we haven't had that all weekend. We're hoping the sun will do its work and make the area come true to form with a northerly in morning and southeasterly in afternoon.”
M1: TFS – Pages Jaunes vs. TeamOrigin
M2: ALL4ONE vs. Artemis
M1: ALL4ONE vs. BMW ORACLE Racing
M2: Artemis vs. Azzurra
M1: Azzurra vs. Emirates Team New Zealand
M2: BMW ORACLE Racing vs. TFS – Pages Jaunes
M1: Artemis vs. Synergy
M2: ALL4ONE vs. TeamOrigin