March 21, 2010: AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - - Racing under the colors of the host Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Emirates Team New Zealand won the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland regatta Sunday.
The start of Race 2 was delayed today due to lack of wind. This forced race officials to make a difficult decision, the originally planned best of seven races had to be reduced to a format whereby the first team to win two races out of three would be declared the overall winner. That put ETNZ in a favorable position with one win already under their belt from yesterday's race.
The race committee made the call after consulting with weather guru Roger "Clouds" Badham who commented, "It is disappointing for both teams and spectators, but as they say, that's yacht racing for you."
Bob Fisher joined the radio team as a guest commentator to call the race.
At the start line ETNZ took the right side course and Mascalzone Latino Audi the left. ETNZ lead but ML Audi picked up a lift as they sailed bow-to-bow up the first beat.
'ENTZ leads Mascalzone Latino Audi up the first leg' - photo credit © Lulu Roseman
Both boats were locked together at the top mark, but ETNZ had the favored right hand side and to poke her bow slightly ahead and rounded the first mark just eight seconds ahead of ML Audi. But as the boats sped down to the bottom mark, ETNZ extended their lead to four boat lengths as they continued out to the left hand side of the course.
In the closing stages of the second beat, a fully powered up ETNZ headed toward the left hand gate, coming in on starboard tack. With perfect precision, up went the genoa and the bow swung around with almost no speed loss. Meanwhile, ML Audi continued to milk their huge gennaker for as much as possible before rounding the mark 21 seconds behind.
'ETNZ extends lead over Mascalzone Latino Audi' - photo credit Lulu Roseman
In the very patchy wind it was not easy for these teams. ETNZ chose the right side and picked up a wind shift while ML Audi went left only to find less pressure. This allowed ETNZ extend their lead.
Tacking onto port ETNZ came along the left hand layline, then guessing right for the second time in the race, they executed a perfect gybe set around the top mark after the wind had shifted right. This turned out well for ETNZ as they headed for the finish line, crossing 200 meters ahead of ML Audi half way down the last downward leg beat.
After yesterday's heart-stopping 1-second win, ETNZ made no mistakes and with practiced clinical precision crossed the finish line to win the final 2-0.
Morgan Larson acknowledged the flawless performance of the New Zealand team. "We got a little bit of a miscommunication in the back of the boat at the weather mark and I'll hold my hand up for that one," he said. "If we'd gybed with them, we'd have been right on their tail."
Right after the finish, the normally controlled and contained Emirates skipper Dean Barker had a broad smile on his face as he soaked his veteran team with champagne from a jeroboam of Moët et Chandon, not even sparing an event photographer who had climbed aboard for the occasion (top photo).
Ashore after racing it was a flashback to the glory days of the America's Cups of 2000 and 2003, as crowds thronged the quayside in the Viaduct Basin and spectators crowded every vantage point on the moored boats and surrounding balconies.
Horns, sirens, cheers and applause greeted the Mascalzone Latino Audi boat as it docked at Market Square, its crew brandishing a giant banner that read "Thank you New Zealand."
The Emirates boat arrived to more applause, flying a gigantic New Zealand blue ensign plus smaller national flags of all the competing countries.
Before presenting the Louis Vuitton Trophy, Yves Carcelle, chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton, congratulated Dean Barker, his team, and all the competing teams on the quality of their racing. "Now I hope the Cup will revive," he said. "But, what we have seen in the last few days an amazing sport competition. The fact that the boats are equalized means that it was all up to the teams, and once more Team New Zealand has proved its domination."
The overall results are:
1. Emirates Team New Zealand, New Zealand
2. Mascalzone Latino Audi, Italy
3. Azzurra, Italy
4. Artemis, Sweden
5. All4One, Germany/France
6. TEAMORIGIN, Great Britain
7. ALEPH Sailing Team, France
8. Synergy Russian Sailing Team, Russia
Story by Lulu Roseman reporting for SailAngle.com