Louis Vuitton Trophy – Nice, France

It was a great day for sailing off the coast of Nice today. Four flights of 2 matches each were held. Artemis raced in three matches against; Azzurra, All4One and Synergy. We lost two that we should have won and we won one we should have lost. Not great, but we are in a three way tie for third at this stage.

First the conditions; we had a Northerly drainage wind right from the start at 0800 this morning. The drainage wind occurs because there is snow in the hills behind Nice and the water temperature in the Med is 18C. So the cold air (cold air sinks) rushes down the mountains being drawn by the warmer air rising over the sea. This wind lasted until about 1100 at which time the land temperature about equaled that of the sea and the wind died. Eventually the wind reversed and came in from the sea. This reversal is called a “transition”. More about that later. The winds speeds this morning were 10 knots dropping to 4 knots and then in the afternoon, 10-12 knots.

In the first race of the day against All4One, we had a very good start to windward and tacked on them every time they tried to come right. We eventually drove them out to the port layline and led around the windward mark rather comfortably. Down the run we held the lead although they closed. Then we chose the un-favored gate and that cost us two lengths. Up the second windward leg, All4One had the right side and starboard tack advantage which they used to stretch their lead to 3 lengths. Down the run nothing much happened and they beat us by 24 seconds.

What does “un-favored” gate mean? First of all, the leeward mark is two marks or a gate. You can round either buoy. In order for the gate to be “even”, the line between the two buoys must be 90 degrees to the wind. The wind here has been quite shifty so the gate is going in and out of “even” continuously.

In our second race of the day against Azzurra, we got penalized in the prestart maneuvering. We hit the line with more speed than Azzurra and quickly started a tacking duel with them which we not only won but in the end got a penalty on them. So we went around the windward mark ahead by one boat length. They had a problem getting their genoa down so we both proceeded to the right side of the course. We had previously decided the left would be better and would match their move to the left. But as they had the problem, we decided to beat them to it. Well that was a bad move because the wind started to die and “transition” to the sea breeze. We were on the outside of that shift and lost the lead and ultimately the race by a lot. Very frustrating to have two of those in a row.

We had one race off and then we were back in action for the final race of the day against Synergy. We did not get the start we wanted and Synergy was ahead of us although we were both straight lining it off to the right side. Then Synergy had a problem with their mainsheet and we got just enough ahead to start making their life difficult when they had to tack back to the middle of the race course. We managed to hold the lead the whole way around despite a tough fight from them.

So we finished the day at 2-2 and are in a tie with Azzurra and BMW Oracle for third. Team New Zealand is leading with 4 wins and TeamOrigin is second with 3 wins.

Tomorrow we are in the first flight of the day, 0900 start, against Team New Zealand. This will be a good opportunity for us to line up against a team that has basically been together in these boats since 2000. After that, weather permitting, we race TeamOrigin and then BMW Oracle to finish off Round Robin 1. We will then race everyone one more time in Round Robin 2. After that the top 4 move on to the semi final and finals which the bottom four race a knock out series to determine 5-8.