Half of the opening day's scheduled matches at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice Côte d'Azur were completed in conditions that challenged race officials and tended to favour the leading yachts.
Emirates Team New Zealand and TeamOrigin share the top spot on the leaderboard after scoring triumphs in light and shifty winds. Team New Zealand defeated TFS – Pages Jaunes by 59 seconds and TeamOrigin won by 1 minute, 36 seconds over Russia Synergy.
The wind was light and shifty all day as an offshore breeze battled a gradient wind. It ranged in strength between 3 and 10 knots while shifting between the southwest and north/northwest.
Match 1: TeamOrigin d. Russia Synergy, 59 seconds
The key moment in the match came in the pre-start when TeamOrigin helmsman Ben Ainslie drew a penalty on Russia Synergy helmsman Karol Jablonski. Russia Synergy was penalized for not responding to a luff from TeamOrigin when both boats were overlapped. The on-water umpires made it a red-flag penalty because Russia Synergy got a controlling position from the incident. Russia Synergy had to perform its 270-degree penalty turn once on the racecourse, which allowed TeamOrigin to gain control of the match. TeamOrigin stretched its lead to more than 4 minutes at the third mark rounding and then had to sweat out the victory due to a 60-degree windshift near the finish.
Match 2: Emirates Team New Zealand d. TFS – Pages Jaunes, 1m:36s
A spirited pre-start resulted in a split tack start with Emirates Team New Zealand starting on starboard tack and TFS – Pages Jaunes on port tack. Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker held control of the match throughout, rarely giving his counterpart on TFS – Pages Jaunes, Bertrand Pacé, a chance to come back. Team New Zealand's biggest lead was 1 minute, 39 seconds at the leeward gate.
Mike Sanderson, TeamOrigin, General Manager
It got a little tense at the end. It was a little bit worrying because it got as light as 3 knots and we saw a 60-degree wind shift. It's going to be a big part of this event, who can wriggle their way through those situations. Ben (Ainslie, skipper) did a nice job off the start line, getting the red-flag penalty. The rule's pretty clear that they have to get out of there when we luff. They were lucky not to get two.
Dean Barker, Emirates Team New Zealand, Skipper
It was a very hard day. Adam (Beashel, strategist) was up the rig and having difficulty assessing which side was better. It was difficult because the wind never established a gradient flow. We preferred the left initially, then wanted the right but there was no clear pattern. We had 6 to 7 knots at the start. It was down to 3 to 4 knots at times and up to 8 to 9 knots. I think we were always in control, but it's hard to close races out when you sail in those conditions.
Racing tomorrow begins with the combined French/German team ALL4ONE taking on Emirates Team New Zealand. Other scheduled matches include Artemis versus TFS – Pages Jaunes, BMW ORACLE Racing versus Russia Synergy and TeamOrigin versus Azzurra.