The six international crews at the Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta hosted local dhow skippers yesterday in three fleet races when competition resumed off the Dubai International Marine Club.
Italy's Mascalzone Latino Audi won the day handsomely with skipper Gavin Brady scoring two first places. The French-German team All4One and Sweden's Artemis Racing tied for second.
Saeed Hareb, chief executive of the Dubai International Marine Club, presented the fleet race trophy to Gavin Brady and presented commemorative medals to Brady and all his crew.
The Emirates Team New Zealand crew raced while wearing black arm bands and with their ensign at half mast in a sombre reminder of the Pike River coal mine explosion in New Zealand that claimed 29 lives.
The team are planning a brief on-water ceremony today to pay their respects to the dead miners.
Last night, the skippers of the two highest-seeded teams chose their semi-final opponents. The top-seeded BMW Oracle Racing team chose to race fourth-seeded All4One, while Emirates Team New Zealand will start against Synergy Russian Sailing Team.
"We chose All4One simply for the fact that they finished in fourth place," said James Spithill, the Oracle skipper. "It's never an easy decision because at the end of the day you have to go out there and beat them.
"It's going to be a tough race. They're not an easy team to race against."
In the semi-finals the winners will be the first boats to win two races. The winners will race the finals on Saturday in a best-of-five series.
In yesterday's fleet racing, each of the four teams raced twice over the course of three races.
Brady's finishes have been uneven over the past two weeks of racing in Dubai but he and the tactician Morgan Larson, the navigator Steve Hayles, and the masthead wind-spotter Cameron Dunn made no mistakes on flat water in light and shifty air.
In his first race, Brady claimed the pin end of the line and pulled out to an early lead that increased as the race wore on. In his second race, Brady went for a port-tack start behind the fleet before going up the middle of the course. He emerged at the weather mark with a commanding lead that he held until the finish.
"We wanted the left in the first race," Brady said. "In these light-air races you can't be conservative. You have to really go for it. So we went for a pretty aggressive start down at the pin end. For the second race we wanted to start to the right. We didn't want to sacrifice a tack to get the right so we decided to do something that no one else has done here and start on port tack and take the stern of all the boats at full speed."