Audi MedCup- Emirates Team NZ extend series lead despite penalty

Emirates Team New Zealand NZl380, Matador, and Quantum on leg one of race eight, day four, Trophee de Marseille, MedCup 2009 regatta. 13/6/2009
Emirates Team New Zealand / Photo Chris Cameron ETNZ ©

Emirates Team New Zealand extended their lead in the Audi MedCup series at Marseilles today, despite being forced to take a penalty turn in the first race.

The Kiwis were back in the van of the fleet at the time, but were let out of jail with an ubnforced error by the second placed yacht overall, Quantum Racing (USA).

A replay of the incident involving Emirates Team New Zealand shows that the late taken penalty was probably unnecessary, however it was certainly marginal. The Kiwi penalty was probably a safety measure.

Despite the two contrasting races today, a sixth and a first for Emirates Team New Zealand was enough for the Kiwi team to extend their overall lead in the Marseille Trophy regatta to sixteen points going in to the final day.

Dalton confirms that their mood, even with a comfortable lead into the last day, is focused but even, just as prevails through their America’s Cup campaigns, win or lose, looking at the long game rather than any short term outward satisfaction:

' Nothing changes because you are not playing for the regatta, you are playing for the whole thing, and even if you were sailing for the regatta it any case we would just go out and sail identical to how we did today.' Dalton re-affirmed today.

After the excitement and high speed thrills of Friday’s TP52 Series' coastal race to Cassis, what started as a hot, slow and sticky day as Quantum Racing appeared to have increased the pressure on the overall leaders when they posted a third place in Race 8, three places ahead of the Kiwi team, ended with a sting in the tail.

Emirates Team New Zealand NZL380 lead the fleet on the first leeward leg of race nine, day four, Trophee de Marseille, MedCup 2009 regatta. 13/6/2009
Emirates Team New Zealand / Photo Chris Cameron ETNZ ©

Dean Barker (NZL) and the Kiwis bounced back with their fourth win of the regatta while their nearest rivals pulled the pin too early on their start.

Jumping the gun, Quantum Racing (USA) rescued an eighth just as they did in the first race when they committed the same mistake.

But the outstanding performance of the day was that of Synergy (RUS). With Cameron Dunn (NZL) calling tactics they posted a first and second to elevate themselves to fourth in the Marseille Trophy standings.

In the GP42 Series, racing on the same race tracks in the same conditions the Italian Roma’s first and third ensure they, too, are in the box seats with what should be two final races to complete.

Quantum Racing (USA), the American team who are the Audi Med Cup champions had looked consistently strong since they looked to have ironed out the starting line flaws which impaired their early races here. On the back of a 3,1,1,3 from four starts including a win in the 40 miles coastal race, they looked to be posting a growing threat to Emirates Team New Zealand.

In hot sunshine, the light 9-10 knots SSW’ly breeze seemed to promise a decent day of racing with the TP52 Series and GP42 Series fleets moved to the north Rade area for the first time, racing in the western approach to the bay of Marseille.

A long delay and move back to the Rade sud was rewarded with a quickstep second race on 16-19 knots of breeze. Emirates Team New Zealand and Synergy were able to hook into the shift and extra wind pressure on the left side of the track, with the regatta leaders leading all the way to the finish.

In the first race, with Frioul islands now to the left of the windward-leeward race area it seemed the left paid best for those who were smart enough and early enough to reach it. Synergy and Bigamist were among the first to break from the left, pin end of the line and were able to round the first windward turn in first and second places, while a clear air strategy, staying out of the higher risk traffic areas making a well timed starboard approach on starboard allowed Quantum Racing to round third, which they held to the finish.

Emirates Team NZ tries to cut inside Artemis at the first leeward mark in Race 8

Penalty by Kiwis

Emirates Team New Zealand were often on the back foot during the first race after rounding seventh at the first turn. At the first leeward mark as they rounded overlapped with Artemis (SWE) outside them there was an incident which saw the series leaders make a subsequent penalty turn.

Emirates Team NZ approached on the inside of Artemis, but marginally clear astern, and therefore with no rounding rights at the mark. Approaching the mark more quickly, Emirates Team NZ surged, and Artemis may have been forced to avoid, or create some room for the New Zealand boat.

On review it seems that NZL-380 was preparing to pass outside or Artemis, and swung out for a couple of seconds, before electing to try to cut inside. Artemis 'closed the gate' trapping the Kiwis. It is not known if there was contact between the two yachts.

After rounding the mark, NZL-380 sailed for some distance up the beat before deciding to take a penalty. There were no other yachts around, to pin the New Zealanders and in review of the GPS tracks for the race, it would seem that the New Zealnders were too late in taking their penalty. The rules require a yacht taking a penalty to sail clear of other boats and take her turn as quickly as possible. As they were clear of other boats it seems that New Zealand could have taken their penalty earlier.

Whatever, the race will almost certainly be a discarded race for the Kiwis in their points score, given they maintain their current form for the rest of the regatta, and the timing of the penalty is, in the grand scheme of things, largely academic.

Dropping Valars 3 (RUS) as a result of their penalty, Emirates Team NZ could only make tenth at the top mark but with Ray Davies (NZL) and Adam Beashel (NZL) reading the better breeze that remained on the left in the folding breeze, they were able to rescue an important sixth place.

Synergy scored their first win on these waters since the Reichel Pugh design won last year in the colours of Larry Ellison as USA-17, with Bigamist 7 helping their prospects of a podium finish here in Marseille when they finished second. The Portuguese then slumped to a tenth, making the same mistake alongside Quantum when they both were over early.

A long delay and move back to the Rade sud was rewarded with a quickstep second race in 16-19 knots of breeze. Emirates Team New Zealand and Synergy were able to hook into the shift on the left side of the track, with the regatta leaders leading all the way to the finish.

Turissimo Madrid competing in the GP42's

Airis wins the day with 1-2 in GP42's
The first GP42 Series race today was sailed in what appeared to be a building seabreeze. The two Italian entries, Roma and Airis, led the charge to the left side of the windward leg in search of more pressure, leading the pack around the top mark and through most of the race. But the breeze started to lighten down to 6-8 knots on the final run to the finish.

As the breeze dropped it was interesting to see the fleet break off into pairs: Roma gybing to cover Airis for the win, Islas Canarias Puerto Calero valiantly trying to tangle up with Caser–Endesa but unable to get passed for third, and Turismo Madrid first passing, but then getting passed, by the Japanese on Swing to fall into last.

For the second race of the day, the race course area was relocated to the east and the seabreeze once again freshened to 12-17 knots. Off the start, most of the class kept together in an incredibly tight cluster on the first weather leg, heading off to the left side in search of more pressure and a left shift. This was indeed one tight fur ball, as all four boats in this group were already displaying their protest flags just minutes into the race.

Once again, the competitive horns came out, and four teams got entangled so much with each other that Airis, who had followed the pack around the top mark and gybed away early to avoid the fray, came out of the left like a vision, all-white kite backlit in the dying light, on right-of-way starboard tack, and charging fast at the pack just 50 metres f