Monday, May 24, 2010

Mascalzone Latino triumph in La Maddalena

Mascalzone Latino Audi Team beat Luna Rossa today by just five seconds in a heart-stopping charge for the finish line and chalked up a piece of Italian sailing history. For the first time in seven years of racing in America’s Cup boats, the Latin Rascals defeated their rival Luna Rossa.

© Paul Todd/ Louis Vuitton Trophy
The race in light north-easterly winds on the Golfo di Arzachena off La Maddalena was the closest of the four sailed today. Light and fluky winds forced a three-hour delay to the start of competition and curtailed it at day’s end despite an attempt to start further racing.

Luna Rossa was making their debut in Louis Vuitton Trophy racing with 2007 America’s Cup winner Ed Baird as their new helmsman. Baird won the start against Gavin Brady steering Mascalzone Latino and controlled the first three legs.

Closing the weather mark for the second time Brady got out of phase in a series of short tacks and pulled up right astern of Luna Rossa to round just seven seconds behind. The leaders made a conventional bear-away gennaker set while Mascalzone went for a delayed gybe set that led to over 500 metres of separation and an opportunity to grab the lead.

When Baird eventually gybed to cover, Brady was sailing slightly deeper in better pressure. The tables turned and Brady worked out to a 70-metre lead only to see most of it evaporate when he gybed for the finish and the spinnaker sheet came unclipped.

“The end of the spinnaker was flying out loose and Alan Smith, our bowman, clipped onto a spare halyard and swung out over the water to capture it and clip it on again,” Brady said. “We knew it was going to be close but by then we had overstood and came flying into the mark with plenty of speed.”

In other races:

Flight Four, Race One: All4One def Azzurra, 00:20 – At the first cross it was All4One on starboard with a healthy two-boat lead. Sebastien Col steered the French/German alliance to a 28-second delta at the top mark and controlled the rest of the way.

Flight Four, Race Two: ALEPH Sailing Team def BMW Oracle Racing 00:28 – Bertrand Pacé steering ALEPH sailed a cool-headed tactical race to counter an aggressive attack by America’s Cup winner James Spithill. The French led by seven seconds at the top mark only to have Spithill execute a breathtakingly close inside overtaking move around the bottom mark. Pacé’s protest was green-flagged but Spithill had to tack away to clear his air. The windward mark delta was just six seconds before the French extended to win by six boat lengths.

Flight Five, Race Two: Artemis def TEAMORIGIN, 00:46 – All the drama in this race occurred 1:40 before the gun when the British boat hooked a crab pot or fish trap as they manoeuvered close to spectator boats. “It had two lines on it, one a pretty heavy anchorline,” said Peter Isler, navigator on TEAMORIGIN. “We went head to wind and Craig Satterthwaite jumped in and slashed both ropes with his knife and we were off again. We were early for the line but not that early!”

Inside the basin of the Porto Arsenale, 14-year-old Silvia Acheri won the first of three days raced in O’Pen Bic singlehanded dinghies to qualify finalists for the Louis Vuitton Junior Trophy. Silvia races for the Lega Navale Italiana in Cagliari, Southern Sardina. She won every one of her races.

Provisional win-loss leaderboard after Flight Five:

1. ALEPH Sailing Team, 2-0, 2 pts
=1. Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 2-0, 2 pts
=3. All4One, 1-0, 1 pt
=3. Artemis, 1-0, 1 pt
=5. Emirates Team New Zealand, 0-0, 0 pts
=5. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, 0-0, 0 pts
=7. BMW Oracle Racing Team, 0-1, 0 pts
=7. Luna Rossa, 0-1, 0 pts
=9. Azzurra, 0-2, 0 pts
=9. TEAMORIGIN, 0-2, 0 pts

Live streaming web coverage of the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena is available on the event website, The official site (in English, French, Italian and Russian) is also rich in team content, as well as features, audio, video and images.