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Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena, Sardinia - Day 1

by Louis Vuitton Trophy WSTA 22 May 2010 22:39 BST 22 May - 6 June 2010
ALEPH Sailing Team defeat TEAMORIGIN on day one of the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena © Ian Roman / TEAMORIGIN

Surprises in light conditions

The savage gusts and roiling waves of last week's mistral were a distant memory today as just two races were sailed in light and benign conditions at the opening day of the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena.

Unforced errors bedevilled both races. Spinnaker problems aboard Great Britain’s TEAMORIGIN led to a victory for France’s ALEPH Sailing Team, while Italy’s Mascalzone Latino Audi won after Italy’s Azzurra never recovered from a penalty awarded for early entry into the starting box.

Conditions were promising as the boats docked out from the Porto Arsenale this morning under cloudless skies. The forecast called for the light northerly to build to seven to ten knots. There were plans for three flights with two races in each flight, and provision for a fourth flight if everything went to schedule. However the wind was slow to arrive and racing was delayed for 75 minutes.

Race One: ALEPH Sailing Team def TEAMORIGIN, 01:06

Britain’s TEAMORIGIN exploited their right-hand entry in a light northerly and the French boat ALEPH split off to the left at the gun. Bertrand Pacé at the wheel of ALEPH had a meager lead the first two times they met but Ben Ainslie had the starboard advantage and forced the French away. TEAMORIGIN’S lead was 14 seconds at the top mark. Halfway down the run, a disastrous gybe in light airs wrapped the British kite in a baulky figure-eight that led to a very untidy firedrill. Ainslie revealed later that the fault lay in errors hooking up the sheets. ALEPH enjoyed a five boat-length lead at the leeward mark. The race was theirs, although tempered by some anxious moments closing the finish as they sailed into light air and conceded some ground.

"It might not be a symbolic victory, but it is a valuable point! We are happy to take it,” said Pacé. “TEAMORIGIN made a better choice on the start. We wanted the left and we had it; they wanted the right and they also had it. Then at the first crossing we were lacking ten meters to cross in front of them. We were still behind at the upwind mark. Luckily for us, they made a big mistake when gybing and we took over the lead rather easily.”

Ainslie said: “It was pretty frustrating, we were in a nice little spot. But one of those classics: one little mistake which led to a couple more mistakes which led to a race-losing mistake. We had an issue with the spinnaker sheets being led outside when - with it being very light - they should have been led inside. It was a mistake of how it was set up.”

Race Two: Mascalzone Latino Audi def Azzurra, 2:27

It was billed as a top race of the day between rival Italian teams with strong ties to the region. Mascalzone Latino, the host team, in a duel with Azzurra, racing under the colors of Sardinia’s Yacht Club Costa Smerelda. Expectations of a battle royale dimmed at the five-minute gun when Azzurra was penalized for early entry to the start box. Azzurra’s Francesco Bruni kept the pressure on, gaining on some shifts and losing in others but then faced the ignominy of a slow finish. His boat remained stuck in a windless patch as Mascalzone Latino’s Gavin Brady sailed away to a 2:27 lead. Azzurra never completed her penalty turn.

Bruni said: “We were relying too much on the instruments as we approached the start box and so we paid the price for believing in electronics rather than ourselves. So we were given a penalty. After that my mind went blank for the next five minutes, and we should have got a much better start than we did. For that, I have to take all the blame. However at one point we believed we scored a penalty against Mascalzone Latino, but unfortunately the umpire did not agree. So no penalty!”

Brady said: “Azzurra is a very dangerous team to sail against in light air. They proved that in Nice last year. They are very good in those conditions. What I liked about today was that our team kept their composure when things were really tricky and we had to make some big decisions.”

The two flights not raced today will be pushed back to allow tomorrow’s matches to remain on the original schedule. They are:

Flight 4
All4One v Azzurra
Aleph v BMW Oracle Racing

Flight 5
Luna Rossa v Mascalzone Latino Audi Team
Team Origin v Artemis

Flight 6
Emirates Team New Zealand v Aleph
Azzurra v Synergy

Live streaming web coverage of the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena is available on the event website,

TEAMORIGIN gybe set up error hands first win to Team Aleph (from TEAMORIGIN)

After a short postponement on Saturday morning, racing for the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena regatta in Sardinia, got underway with TEAMORIGIN taking centre stage in the first race against the French Aleph Sailing Team, skippered by Bertrand Pacé. Wind strength at the start was 7-8 knots from the North East.

TEAMORIGIN, with starboard entry, controlled the first part of the pre-start fairly conventionally with a dial-up. Towards the end of the five-minute countdown skipper Ben Ainslie committed to the right hand side of the pair and tacked in the last 30 seconds to start on port tack.

Aleph started at the pin end at speed and headed out to the left of the course in good pressure. When the pair came back together the French boat was marginally bow-forwards but not far enough to cross ahead. Tacking in the lee bow position forced TEAMORIGIN back to the right. The pair tacked back towards each other three more times and on all three approaches the British boat closed down the French advantage and took over the lead to round the top mark with a two length advantage.

The race was still close, the wind was dropping and the teams had to concentrate on keeping the boats moving fast. TEAMORIGIN was in control and gybed. The spinnaker sheets were rigged for an outside gybe instead of an inside resulting in a twist in the spinnaker requiring it to be dropped to untangle it. Aleph needed no more excuse to seize the opportunity and take the lead. By the time TEAMORIGIN had got back up to speed the French boat had built up a lead of 100 metres which was sufficient to keep them ahead for the rest of the run.

The pair both rounded the left hand gate mark TEAMORIGIN having to tack away to the right to clear their air and try and find a way around the French team. But the left was the paying side and no matter what the British team tried the French team extended their lead up to nearly 300 metres at one stage.

The last run was always going to be difficult as the wind at the bottom of the course was dying fast. As the pair sailed downwind into lighter and lighter winds the gap between them dropped, TEAMORIGIN sailing up from behind to reduce the lead to just 90 metres. But the finish line passed under Aleph’s keel before the gap between the two reduced enough for TEAMORIGIN to pass resulting in an unfortunate loss made entirely by crew error.


Iain Percy, Tactician, commented after the race, “We are naturally disappointed to lose the first race, especially given it was due to an unforced error. The format of racing here means its all about performance at the end of the regatta so we need to take some positives out of the fact that we did the hard stuff well, had a good start and led at the top mark – that said, we do need to convert some of these races into race wins sooner rather than later.”

Andrew Simpson, Strategist, added, “It was pretty light winds, we preferred the right and they took the left, it was not a hard fought start. Our side did seem to pay off and we led around the first mark so all was going according to plan. We matched the first gybe but were set up for outside and not inside gybes and a lack of slack led to a twist that was the killer blow for the race. We pushed hard to get back into the race and made some inroads but the French had a healthy lead and took the win.”

In the other match of flight 1, Mascalzone Latino were up against Azzurra and Azzura managed to take an early penalty by entering the start box too soon so were disadvantaged from the start. Mascalzone Latino went on to take the race win by 2 minutes and 27 seconds – the first of many inter-Italian battles for sure!

Mascalzone Latino Audi Team beats Azzurra (from Mascalzone Latino Audi Team)

The first day of racing of the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena saw Mascalzone Latino Audi Team take on Azzurra in the "match of day", the first of the many Italian derbies.

For the start of the races, La Maddalena woke up today under a bright sunshine and a forecast that called for light winds. In yesterday's draw, the "Rascals" were assigned to race Azzurra, a match unlike the rest, subjecting the crews of both teams to heavier psychological pressure than the rest.

The calm and reciprocal trust of the multinational crew onboard Mascalzone Latino proved to be their winning weapons. After an hour's wait for the wind to settle, although never more than 7 knots, the race committee, led by Peter Reggio, decided to commence the starting procedure for the first flight.

Despite entering from port side, so with no right of way, Mascalzone Latino managed to get away from its opponent and win the start, immediately stretching its leadership. In addition, the adversary, penalized for entering the start box too early, allows Mascalzone's afterguard to carry out its strategy and cover all its maneuvers, keeping Azzurra aggressively under control.

The comfortable lead was maintained at the weather mark and the leeward gate, when the breeze dropped significantly. Mascalzone opted for the right side, while Azzurra sailed to the left trying to escape from their opponent's cover. The wind kept decreasing down to 3 knots but the result wouldn't change. It's important to point out that Mascalzone's victory in the Italian derby wasn't the result of the penalty Azzurra would have to offload but was achieved after leading the race from the outset and crossing the finish line with an advantage of over 2 minutes.

As the breeze died down, the remaining scheduled races of the day were cancelled.

The guest onboard as eighteenth man for the first race was the President of the Club Nautico di Roma, Dott. Claudio Gorelli.

"We sailed well - pointed out Flavio Favini - always opting for the correct side of the course, something far from easy under the very light conditions we had today, in which Azzurra has always shown to be very comfortable. Cameron Dunn's calls from the top of the mast proved to be right on the spot and the rest of the afterguard couldn't agree more with them".

"Today was a beautiful day - adds skipper Gavin Brady - not only for our victory and the excellent setting in which we sail, but above all for the perfect chemistry that is building among us: we sail well, I'm really satisfied with the way the team worked."

Tomorrow, Mascalzone Latino Audi Team is scheduled to race yet another derby, this time against Luna Rossa, in the fifth flight of the LV Trophy La Maddalena. For that match the two teams will sail on a pair of yachts provided by Mascalzone Latino.

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