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Bad Start, Good Finish - Practice Day In Marseille

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Bad Start, Good Finish - Practice Day In Marseille

10 JUNE 2009 - The breeze came in as forecast for the practice race for the Marseille regatta of the Audi MedCup circuit.

It was puffy and shifty a bad combination which tacticians dread. It might have been only a practice race and no points were at stake, but in a very competitive fleet it was important never-the-less.

Practice race day involves practice starts and then a race. It the last chance to sharpen crew work and run a ruler over the opposition before the racing starts.

Lying third on points after the Alicante regatta, Emirates Team New Zealand was hoping for a steady, moderate breeze.

NZL 380 went for the pin end of the line to work the left of the course. With a minute to go to the start we were looking good and would get the start we wanted. Then everything changed. With only 45 seconds to go the breeze swung 15deg further left and dropped away.

Grant Dalton: "That meant we could not lay the pin and we had a bad, bad start - we were at the back of the fleet after 30sec."

"As a lane opened up, we went back left looking for a good shift. We found it, and started hauling them in. By the top mark we had climbed back to fifth.

"At the start of the run we did a quick double gybe to catch a puff (16 knots then back to 8 knots) and we were second and we held that to the end of the race."

Dalton said, "This wind direction is a problem and it is forecast to be similar tomorrow for the first day of racing proper. It should settle down later in the week although forecasting here is very tricky and not that reliable.

"It was impossible to tell what our speed was like against the fleet as the suddenness of the puffs and shifts meant that fortunes were changing all the time.

"Throughout it all, the afterguard held their nerve when things looked really bad and it paid off at the finish. AudiQ8 won the race - they got the breeze and rocketed home.

"It was just one of those days that you can't even debrief, just move on. The forecast for tomorrow is 5 to 10 knots, I hope it is wrong."

Racing starts Wednesday when three windward-leeward races are scheduled.

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