x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Louis Vuitton round robin ends in protests

The round-robin stage of the Louis Vuitton Trophy draws to a close, reshuffles the leaderboard and delivers a flurry of incidents and protests.

The sight of a crewman from Artemis seeming to walk on water was one of many dramas witnessed today during a packed racing schedule that brought the round-robin stage of the Louis Vuitton Trophy to a close, reshuffled the leaderboard and delivered a flurry of incidents and protests. Racing against TeamOrigin, David Brooke, the mid-bowman on Artemis, was hit in the back by a flogging jib sheet; he grabbed it and was flung out over the water with his feet just touching the surface. As it swung back his crewmates were able to grab him and pull him back on board. It was just one incident in a hard-fought match, which saw the two teams earn a penalty each in the pre-start and then TeamOrigin earning two flags plus a red on the final run, requiring an immediate penalty turn. It was game over for the British. The day began with the four matches scheduled for the final round robin day, then Principal race officer Peter Reggio squeezed in the three matches that had been postponed because of high winds yesterday. It was almost dark when All4One and Synergy docked back at base after the final race. Kicking off a day that became increasingly chilly, with a thick cover of cloud and shifty winds of between 14 and 20 knots, Emirates Team New Zealand scored a solid win over Synergy after trailing for most of the first leg. Its sixth win in seven races confirmed its expected top seeding for the elimination rounds, which begin tomorrow. Elsewhere in the fleet, fortunes were very mixed. With a win against Synergy and a loss to Artemis, the Franco-German All4One emerged as third seed. Jochen Schümann, All4One's skipper and tactician put the loss down to missing a wind shift early in the race, although they weren't helped by a botched jib hoist after the first run, which had the sail trailing in the water for almost a minute. Nevertheless, they gained a lot of ground, to trail by only 22 seconds across the line. Mascalzone Latino Audi won two races, including the much-anticipated Italian derby against the strongly fancied Azzurra, one of the previous day's postponed races, to become second seed. Artemis and TeamOrigin swapped places on the points table, with two wins bringing great relief to the Swedish boat following a surprisingly inconsistent performance in its earlier races. Conversely, after a promising start to the regatta, the British team, led by Ben Ainslie and Iain Percy, ran out of steam. While not as incident-filled as its afternoon race against Artemis, the morning match against Mascalzone Latino Audi also featured a pre-start protest. The umpires called against TeamOrigin, allowing the Italians to take a three boat-length lead. Ainslie piled on the pressure all the way, whittling down the margin to less than a boat length at the end.
Draw for first eliminaton round (Wednesday) with seedings in brackets. Races are scheduled to start at 10.00 am local time;1.00 am UAE time: Azzurra (4) vs. Artemis (5) All4One (3) vs. TeamOrigin (6) Mascalzone Latino Audi (2) vs. Aleph (7) Emirates Team New Zealand (1) vs. Synergy (8)