Kiwis knocked off top spot in Barcelona

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A shake-up at the top of the Audi MedCup saw the Kiwis knocked off the top spot in Barcelona by a Paul Cayard-led Artemis team as the two British boats are neck and neck for fourth.

Two firsts and a fifth did the business for Artemis. The third win of the day went to Ben Ainslie and his Team Origin but an eighth and a seventh let them down again and Cristabella, with its brains trust of helmsman Tim Powell and tactician John Cutler, is giving Britain’s America’s Cup team stars an uncomfortable run.

The early fresh conditions gave way to soggy uncertainty on the waters used for the Olympic Games sailing in 1992 but Artemis, with Terry Hutchinson’s Quantum breathing down their necks stood out.

In the greater scheme of things, however, Emirates Team New Zealand has a 25.5-point lead over Quantum in a five-regatta series in which every race counts to decide the series winner. And, with just two races left to sail on Sunday and two regattas to complete the 2010 season, Artemis is a further 21 points behind, only 3.5 points ahead of Origin. Consistency will be the best friend that Ainslie could use.

This week Origin is expected to announce a big name, but toe in the water, sponsor ahead of what the team hopes will be a high profile platform during Cowes Week, which starts on Saturday.

Origin will race BMW Oracle, who will be bringing its recently-won America’s Cup with them, in a series of inshore races and a recreation of the 1851 race around the Isle of Wight, which gave rise to the 159-year old event.

The 1851 Cup will be used by the Oracle people to test new television systems – total spend at three sessions is about US $750,000 – and is integrated into a programme which will select the most suitable boat and the styles of racing for America’s Cup 34 in either 2013 or 2014.