By virtue of its second win in as many races Emirates Team New Zealand today grabbed the early lead at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice Côte d'Azur.
Team New Zealand leads overall with 2 points. Sweden's Artemis and Great Britain's TeamOrigin each have 1 point on 1-0 records.
Led by skipper Dean Barker, the venerable Team New Zealand defeated ALL4ONE in today's first match. The combined French/German team, led by skipper and strategist Jochen Schümann of Germany, was forced to withdraw at the beginning of the second upwind leg when the webbing holding the mainsail aloft failed. Team New Zealand finished the race uncontested to score the point.
“We rounded the bottom mark and straight after the webbing on the mainsail broke,” said Spaniard Jordi Calafat, who mans the traveller for ALL4ONE. “I went up the rig hoping to fix it, but here was nothing to do. It's very disappointing.”
The day's second match, between Sweden's Artemis and TFS – Pages Jaunes was similarly one-sided.
TFS – Pages Jaunes skipper Bertrand Pacé gifted an early lead to Artemis, led by Americans Paul Cayard (strategist) and Terry Hutchinson (helmsman), when he had to restart after being on the course side at the start gun.
TFS – Pages Jaunes then sailed into a windless hole on the left side of the first leg. The crew's boatspeed dropped to 6 knots while Artemis sailed away at 9 knots. Artemis led by 75 seconds at the first mark and was never threatened over the next three legs. The nascent team won by 2 minutes, 17 seconds.
“It's the first time we all sailed together as a crew,” said Cayard. “But Terry, myself, Morgan (Larson, tactician) and Kevin (Hall, navigator) all raced together with AmericaOne in 2000. We're in different roles here and just getting used to each other.”
Aside from the three leaders, none of the other five teams has scored a point at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Nice Côte d'Azur. Two teams, Azzurra and BMW ORACLE Racing, haven't completed a match yet while the three others, ALL4ONE (0-1), Synergy (0-1) and TFS – Pages Jaunes (0-2), are winless.
“We are a new crew, there are a lot of guys onboard new to these boats,” said Mathieu Richard, strategist for TFS – Pages Jaunes. “We made a mistake at the start today when we tacked to port in the pre-start. We were too close to the committee boat and had to luff up to avoid it. But it was not anchored and it was hard to judge where it was.”
The racing schedule has been thrown into disarray due to the unsettled weather pattern. Once again today, a light offshore wind in the morning succumbed to an onshore flow in the afternoon. But the afternoon breeze never built strong enough to allow for racing and, like yesterday, only two matches were completed.
“The conditions are tricky because the wind has been so light,” said Ray Davies, the tactician for Emirates Team New Zealand. “This can be a very variable place. With the potential for the mistral wind on either side, it creates very different conditions. But it's what we expected.”
Event organisers hope to get back on schedule tomorrow with eight matches planned. The effort will be aided by the return of ITA-90 and ITA-99, the yachts on loan from Mascalzone Latino. ITA-99 was damaged in a practise accident last Friday, which put the pair out of commission for the weekend. But ITA-99 is now repaired, so tomorrow's racing will have four boats on the water.