Close races and better weather at Louis Vuitton Nice

Seasonal conditions returned today to the Bay of Angels off Nice and allowed race organisers for the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice Côte d'Azur to reel off four flights of races, eight matches overall.

The flurry of races has helped give shape to the event scoreboard. Emirates Team New Zealand won its lone match of the day and remains the top dog with 4 points on a 4-0 record.

One point behind the Kiwis in second place is TeamOrigin of Great Britain. Skipper Ben Ainslie led the Union Jack to two victories today and now has 3 points on a 3-0 record.

Third place is held by Azzurra of Italy with 2 points on a 2-1 record. BMW ORACLE Racing won its two races today and is fourth in the standings with 2 points on a 2-1 record. Azzurra holds the tie-break advantage by virtue of its head-to-head win yesterday.

The Artemis team from Sweden holds fifth with 2 points on a 2-2 record and is followed by the French/German team ALL4ONE with 1 point on a 1-3 record. Russia Synergy (0-3) is seventh and TFS – Pages Jaunes (0-4) is eighth.

Today marked the first full day of racing at the Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta and the action was superb. An offshore breeze in the morning gave way to a southwesterly in the afternoon. The consistent conditions made for tight racing with the average delta in seven of the eight matches just 31 seconds.

TeamOrigin sailed two close matches, winning by an average of 22 seconds.

“The nice thing about today was that we had 12 to 13 knots of breeze on the racecourse, the most we've seen since we've been in Nice,” said TeamOrigin General Manager Mike Sanderson. “We've had relatively little practice in those conditions so every minute on the boat is really valuable for us.”

TeamOrigin's second win came in the day's final match against ALL4ONE, the host team for the regatta, when skipper Ainslie closed the door on his rival in the pre-start.

“We nearly nailed Ben before that, but it changed from one side to the other very quickly so we made a mistake there,” said Jochen Schümann, skipper of ALL4ONE. “We had some options just a second before that. That's how close it is.”

The largest delta of the day was 2 minutes, 5 seconds, and it happened to occur in one of the most exciting matches – for half the race at least.

Azzurra and Artemis traded blows from the pre-start right through to the leeward gate. Azzurra got first blood when Artemis and helmsman Terry Hutchinson were penalised in the pre-start for not giving time and opportunity as a right-of-way boat. But the penalty was negated at the top of the first beat when Azzurra skipper Francesco Bruni tacked too close.

The Swedish-flagged team led by a slim half-length beginning the run and extended that advantage when the Azzurra crew had trouble lowering the genoa because of an issue with the halyard lock. The crewman in the rig, Gabriele Bruni, released the snap shackle and the sail fell to the deck, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The problem prevented Azzurra from jibing to starboard with Artemis, which led to the Italian crew regaining the lead approaching the leeward mark. Azzurra took a slim lead through the leeward gate and then quickly extended when Artemis had a pair of bad tacks. Soon Azzurra built a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

“We had a nice leeward mark rounding and it was very light at that point, and I think they had a bad tack or something happened and we extended from there,” said Tom Burnham, the Azzurra strategist. “It got pretty light and shifty and we did a good job of connecting the dots and rounded the windward mark pretty far ahead. They came into us on the final run with a bit more pressure off the shore, but we were being conservative.”

Tomorrow's schedule

Flight 9

M1: Artemis vs. Emirates Team New Zealand

M2: ALL4ONE vs. TFS – Pages Jaunes

Flight 10

M1: Azzurra vs. Synergy

M2: BMW Oracle Racing vs. TeamOrigin

Flight 11

M1: ALL4ONE vs. Synergy

M2: Azzurra vs. TFS – Pages Jaunes

Flight 12

M1: Emirates Team New Zealand vs. BMW Oracle Racing

M2: Artemis vs. TeamOrigin

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