JEDDAH: Emirates Team New Zealand dominated the first day of racing with two wins as the America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah began on Thursday. They topped the overnight standings with 22 points, followed by Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli of Italy on 18.
In the first race of the day, the New Zealanders finished ahead of British team INEOS Britannia, Swiss team Alinghi Red Bull Racing, and Orient Express Racing Team of France. American Magic were disqualified for leaving the regatta boundaries.
New Zealand’s success continued in race two, in which they finished ahead of Alinghi, INEOS, Luna Rossa, who had problems at the start, French team Orient Express and American Magic.
In the third race, Luna Rossa put in a very strong and controlled performance to win by a good margin, easily finishing clear of Orient Express, Alinghi, INEOS and New Zealand. American Magic once again were disqualified.
“It was a good start for us today, despite the error we committed in the third race, but we managed to be on the top,” Peter Burling, New Zealand’s skipper, told Arab News.
Ruggero Tita, helmsman for Luna Rossa, said: “We are super happy about this last-race win. Of course, it was a super-tricky race but we managed to arrive at the end on the foils which means that we did a really good job.”
The Swiss team of helmsmen Arnaud Psarofaghis and Maxime Bachelin, and trimmers Yves Detrey and Bryan Mettraux, faced lighter than expected winds as they put their full focus on staying up on the foils. The crew challenged for a podium place in the first race, finished second in race two, and then successfully chased down several boats from behind after a start penalty in in the third race to grab third place. They finished the day tied for third with INEOS on 15 points.
“It was a solid day for the team, one of those days where you come back (to be) in the middle of the standings and you say, ‘It could have been better but it also could have been a lot worse,’” said Pietro Sibello, their performance coach.
“So overall, I think it was a good day. We should all be happy and hungry for an even better day tomorrow.”
Arnaud Psarofaghis, the Swiss skipper said: “It was really tough conditions. Today was about sailing the boat as well as we could, and mainly about staying on the foils. The last week of training was really useful for us out there, given the marginal conditions.”
Three races are scheduled for Friday, followed by two on Saturday, after which the top two teams will advance to the final.