x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Andrew Flintoff tests new waters off Dubai

Ex-England cricketer turns sailor as Artemis Racing and All4One dominate the day while BMW Oracle enjoy an unassailable lead.

England cricketer Andrew Flintoff, bottom left, had an odd day out at sea as 18th man for Emirates Team New Zealand yesterday.
England cricketer Andrew Flintoff, bottom left, had an odd day out at sea as 18th man for Emirates Team New Zealand yesterday.

Andrew Flintoff, the former England Test cricket captain, took part in the Louis Vuitton Trophy Dubai yesterday while on an extended trip to the country following his visit to last weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

A star all-rounder for his country for the past decade, before retiring earlier this year, Flintoff found his new role to be the 18th Man for Emirates Team New Zealand.

Hailing from the north-west of England, the former cricketer admitted not being used to the conditions.

"It was cold and it was wet and windy," he said. "And I ended up working; I was grinding for an hour and a half. I couldn't believe the size of the lads! I thought sailing was like cravats and blazers and deck shoes and these lads turned up and they were massive."

Flintoff was not the only sport star to turn up for the event yesterday. Chris Cairns, the former New Zealand cricketer, competed for the Mascalzone Latino Audi team.

The competition between Sweden's Artemis Racing and the French-German team, All4One, in yesterday's matches epitomised the character of racing.

Racing against each other twice, each team won once. It was a pattern repeated in all but one of the other pairings, leaving the leaderboard bunched in the middle.

With just one match remaining in the first round robin, BMW Oracle Racing are unassailable at the top of the table with a total of nine points.

After that, the fleet is tightly grouped; only a half point separates the next four boats.

Emirates Team New Zealand are in second place with 4.5 points. Artemis, Synergy Russian Sailing Team and All4One remain third on four points. Mascalzone Latino are sixth with two points.

Only Artemis and Team New Zealand have a chance to improve their position; they will race today in the final match of the first round robin.

A victory for Artemis would see them overhaul the New Zealanders to take over second place.

Racing in the second round robin begins following the New Zealand match up with Artemis.

In the second phase of the regatta each team will sail the other just once, but a victory is worth two points. The top four teams at the conclusion of the second round robin will advance to the semi-final.

Kevin Hall, the navigator for Artemis, is looking forward to the race against Team New Zealand.

"What we're seeing out here is very good racing so we were happy to go one and one. All the teams are going to have to be happy with one and one by the looks of it."

Jochen Schumann, three-time Olympic gold medallist and skipper of All4One, had praise for his team's win against Artemis after fighting off multiple attacks in their second race.
* Agencies