DUBAI // BMW Oracle Racing sailed a near-flawless race against Sweden's Artemis Racing yesterday to maintain their lead at the top of the Louis Vuitton Trophy leaderboard. But not everything went their way.
Earlier James Spithill and his team were defeated by All4One, the French/German team whose helmsman Sebastien Col won the start and staved off determined attacks by the American team, especially on the first three legs.
It was only the second loss in the series for BMW Oracle.
They are on 13 points and hold a four-and-a-half point lead over the rest of the field after the second day of competition in the second round
"We got two points for that race today. It's a big win," Jochen Schümann, the skipper of All4One, said.
"BMW Oracle Racing has been very strong so far, so I would say it's almost 'bonus points'. We now have a realistic chance to make it to the semis, which is our goal here."
Col added: "We achieved a really solid race. The key point was the first downwind leg, where we defended very well. We were leading at the first mark, and then we defended well with a few close jibes, which was kind of our weakness at the beginning of the event. After a day like this, we will really feel better controlling our competitor downwind."
Speaking of Spithill, winner of the 33rd America's Cup, Col said: "He and I are from the same generation. We raced together very often in youth world championships or on the match racing circuit.
"He has had an exceptional career these past four years. We've known each other for a long time, and it's always nice to get a win against him."
Ian Moore, the navigator of the American boat, agreed All4One had done an outstanding job.
"It was a little disappointing to lose the first race, but give credit to All4One," Moore said. "They started well and sailed impeccably well.
"We see a lot in these races that if you win the start it helps to go on and win the race, and that's what they did.
"But you can't let it get you down. You're going to lose races in a tournament as long as this and we rallied in the second race.
"Jimmy [James Spithill] got a fantastic start and our tactician John Kostecki did a nice job calling the race and picking the shifts."
Moore said that after losing to the French/German team "it was good to get a victory against a strong team like Artemis".
The hard luck story of the day was Artemis which lost two races, each worth two points, to drop from third place overall to fourth on the leaderboard.
They had started the day in third place, just one and half points behind second-placed Emirates Team New Zealand.
Artemis lost first to the Synergy Russian Sailing team even though the Russians were penalised for a collision in the pre-start.
In one of the closest races seen in Dubai this week, Francesco Bruni, the Synergy skipper, attacked and gained the lead before surrendering it while unwinding his penalty.
He then fought his way back to finish first, only to lose his two finish points with a two-point deduction for hard contact.
Racing at a glance
All4One defeat BMW Oracle Racing Team, 45secs
This was only the second race the Americans have lost. Sebastien Col had the starboard advantage at the entry, went nose-to-nose against James Spithill, and led back to start at the pin on starboard. Coming into the top mark, Spithill was pressing hard but the French/German alliance held the Americans out above the mark. Oracle stayed close but Col held his nerve and pulled away on the last two legs.
Synergy Russian Sailing Team defeat Artemis Racing, 26secs
A collision before the start saw the Russian team facing two penalty points for hard contact in the collision and the prospect that Cameron Appleton and Artemis Racing would win the match and go up two points. Synergy's Francesco Bruni sailed the race of his life to lead on the first beat, unwind the penalty at the top mark and hold off Appleton.
Emirates Team New Zealand defeat Mascalzone Latino Audi, 10secs
The Kiwis claimed the right at the start and, despite early gains by Gavin Brady, steering Mascalzone, it was Dean Barker who led around the top mark. Brady remained in close contact as the breeze softened and it was only on the final run that the New Zealand team could feel comfortable.
BMW Oracle Racing defeat Artemis Racing, 1min 03secs
The presence of team owner Torbjorn Tornqvist on board was not sufficient to save Appleton and the Swedes from a sound defeat at the hands of Spithill. After a protracted dial-up, Spithill returned to start on the left on starboard with Artemis trailing by a few metres at the committee and also on starboard. Spithill was able to cross his opponent on the port tack halfway up the beat and extended from there on every leg.