James Spithill, the youngest skipper to win the America’s Cup, continued an unbroken record today at the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai as his BMW Oracle Racing team posted two more victories in close match racing.
The American team’s record is 6-0 and six points. Their nearest competition is Emirates Team New Zealand in second place with 3-2 and only 2.5 points after an jury penalty on Sunday.
Spithill was merciless in his opening match against Italian Francesco Bruni steering Synergy Russian Sailing. Spithill waited until the last minute of the pre-start before swooping in to attack.
Seconds later he’d grabbed a controlling position on Synergy’s port quarter and pushed the Russian boat above the start line as the gun went. The Russians had to go back and start property while Spithill increased his lead on every leg, finishing 300 metres ahead, the biggest margin of the day.
Spithill’s second race against the Russians was a different story. BMW Oracle Racing tactician John Kostecki described the race as “quite tight.” The Americans rounded the top mark first but Kostecki said the first beat was touch and go.
“We got to them just about at the layline,” Kostecki said. “They had to bail out and we were able to roll them. They had to do two tacks at the top mark. I think we played that right. It was real close though. It could have gone either way.”
Spithill finally got control of the race after a hair-raising leeward mark rounding when the Russian team came charging back into contention and rounded inside the American boat, claiming and getting an inside overlap.
“We managed to get them to tack away and incur a penalty,” Kostecki said. “Out of that we got the starboard advantage and got ahead on the last beat and ended up winning the race. It was a good race. It feels good to be 6-0.”
Emirates Team New Zealand only had one race, against the Swedish team Artemis Racing. Kiwi skipper Dean Barker claimed a small advantage at the start but Artemis skipper Cameron Appleton enjoyed the starboard side advantage and bounced ETNZ away every time they met in a series of tacks.
When Barker tried to duck his opponent and get right, Appleton bore off in a classic dial down. Barker tacked back and the boats narrowly avoided collision in a flurry of protest flags and shouting.
“We could have cut them in half,” said Grant Dalton, ETNZ CEO who also crews on the boat. “We wanted a red flag penalty but the umpires didn’t agree.”
Flight One, Race One, All4One def Mascalzone Latino Audi, 00:22 – Gavin Brady’s race with Sebastien Col was over before it started when Mascalzone Latino Audi jumped the gun as she grazed past the race committee boat on port tack in a split tack start. Col, at the helm of the French/German boat All4One, set out with a 90 metre lead that turned into a 38 second advantage at the top mark. A messy spinnaker drop cost All4One valuable time at the leeward mark but she was still 100 metres in front at the finish gun.
Flight One, Race Two, BMW Oracle Racing def Synergy Russian Sailing, 00:58 – At BMWOR’s helm, James Spithill swooped down on the Russian boat inside one minute to the start as both boats approached on starboard tack. Hooked by the American boat, Francesco Bruni was pushed over the line as the seconds ticked down and Synergy Russian Sailing was forced to return and start.
Flight Two, Race One, All4One def Mascalzone Latino Audi, 00:13 – Gavin Brady started the Italian boat at speed on starboard with a safe leeward on All4One. The French/German boat tacked away and Brady followed, taking them out to the starboard layline before leading at the top mark by a boat length. Half way down the run, the Italian spinnaker pole went in the water on a bad gybe. Sebastien Col seized the lead and held it to the finish.
Flight Two, Race Two, BMW Oracle Racing def Synergy Russian Sailing, 00:15 – Russia’s Francesco Bruni came close to wrecking James Spithill’s so-far perfect record in Dubai, overtaking the American boat on the inside at the leeward mark only to be penalized for failing to keep clear as they sailed away from the mark. Spithill had made a safe leeward start on starboard and controlled the race to the weather mark, leading by a boat length and opening the lead only to see it evaporate as Bruni closed at the end of the run, successfully claiming the inside overlap.
Flight Three, Race One, Artemis Racing def Emirates Team New Zealand, 00:21 – The Swedish boat skippered by Cameron Appleton claimed the right at the start and bounced Kiwi skipper Dean Barker back to the left on six successive tacks. When Barker bore off and attempted to duck his opponent, Appleton, on starboard, dialed down and forced Barker away before hardening up take a clear lead. Barker kept it close but the race was Appleton’s
Flight Three, Race Two, Mascalzone Latino Audi def Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 00:15 – On their third race of the day against the Russian team, Gavin Brady and Mascalzone Latino finally prevailed and put their first point on the board. Brady made a perfect start at speed at the pin end of the line and led by eight seconds at the top mark. Francesco Bruni and the Russians clawed back within two seconds as they rounded opposite ends of the leeward gate but Brady maintained control and the lead.
1. BMW ORACLE Racing, 6-0, 6 pts
2. Emirates Team New Zealand, 3-2, 2.5 pts *
= 3. Artemis Racing, 2-3, 2 pts
= 3. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 2-3, 2 pts
= 3. All4One, 2-4, 2 pts
6. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 2-4, 1 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.
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