x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Oracle lead the way on the Dubai waters

The semi-final berths are sealed as Emirates Team New Zealand seal second while Synergy and Artemis fail to progress.

BMW Oracle Racing topped the standings and will be favourites going into the semi-finals, which begin on Friday.
BMW Oracle Racing topped the standings and will be favourites going into the semi-finals, which begin on Friday.

DUBAI // Sailing teams from the United States, New Zealand, Italy and France will contest the semi-finals of the Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta on Friday.

The final places were set when the Synergy Russian Sailing Team and Sweden's Artemis Racing were eliminated in competition yesterday in waters off the Dubai International Marine Club.

The US-based BMW Oracle Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand, seeded first and second after 10 days of round-robin racing, each consolidated their positions with victories.

The New Zealanders denied Synergy a place in the semi-finals, a reversal of fortune from the Louis Vuitton regatta in La Maddalena when the Russian team finished second, losing to the New Zealand team.

"We're pretty happy with our performance today," said Ray Davies, tactician for Emirates Team New Zealand. "Against Synergy and against All4One it was pretty light and shifty and it's so important to get that first shift off the start line.

"We have had a patchy regatta to date but we've still qualified second. [Oracle] have been the stand-out so far, but you've got to win the last race, not the first one. It's important, of course, to keep improving and we think we've done that."

The second race yesterday saw Oracle Racing, holders of the America's Cup, win against Italy's Mascalzone Latino Audi, the challenger of record for the next America's Cup in 2013.

James Spithill, the Oracle skipper, finished the race before it started, landing a penalty on Mascalzone's Gavin Brady in tense, pre-start manoeuvring.

The loss could have eliminated the Italians who were trailing on the leaderboard earlier in the regatta. However two inspired performances on Monday had boosted their chances.

The French-German boat All4One eliminated Artemis Racing in their race and clinched their place in the final four, a result that might have taken the sting out of a loss to Emirates Team New Zealand in the final race of the day.

"We could start the last race today quite relaxed," said Jochen Schumann, All4One's skipper. "It's important to get to the next round and we made it. We sailed quite well as a team and we generally lost by quite small margins. The competition is very even."