A bright, sunny morning with brisk breezes provided a fitting end to the round robin of the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Auckland, with several teams sailing for their survival. The Russian team, Synergy, with Karol Jablonski at the helm, and the French team Aleph, steered by Bertrand Pacé, both had to win their matches to stand any chance of avoiding an early flight home, while Team Origin - to the surprise of everyone here - was also in a vulnerable position after its double loss yesterday.
As has been the case all week, it was the gusty nature of the wind rather than its outright strength that proved awkward and, with pressure on to keep the two racing yachts safe, Peter Reggio, the principal race officer, called delays to three of the four matches. By beating Azzurra in the first match, Artemis was safe in the final. In the second match, a tight race between TeamOrigin and All4One, the British team got the win it needed to remain in the series, while All4One, with better results in the round robin, also stayed safe. With a place in the semi-finals already guaranteed, Mascalzone Latino Audi, with Gavin Brady at the helm, made a good start against Aleph but Pacé sailed well to stay very close all the way up the first leg. However, a blown gennaker just after the mark blew their chances and they couldn't get back into the match. Aleph leaves the regatta with the distinction of being the only team to have beaten Emirates Team New Zealand. The Kiwis - also with a guaranteed place in the semi-finals - also had a tussle on their hands with Synergy. Jablonski took the fight to ETNZ in the pre-start and up the first leg, rounding the top mark only even seconds behind. A minor hiccup with the kite pole dropping soon after the hoist, and skilled sailing by the home team meant the end of the Russians' hopes.
Aleph and Synergy have been eliminated. Emirates Team NZ and Mascalzone Latino Audi advance directly to the semi-final. Repechage, Thursday 18 March All4One, Azzurra, Artemis and TeamOrigin will race tomorrow in a best-of-three repechage for a place in the semi-final. As the highest seeded of the four teams, All4One chose Azzurra as its opponent, leaving Artemis and Team Origin as the other pair. Races are scheduled to start at 10.00 am local time (1.00 am UAE time)