Britain’s lions, in the form of Team Origin, became the second victims of a rampant Russian bear crew on Synergy today as the eight America’s Cup syndicates continued their battle for the four semi-final places in the Louis Vuitton Trophy series in Nice.
Olympian skipper Ben Ainslie may have three golds and a silver, tactician Iain Percy two golds and Andrew Simpson also an Olympic gold but the new pairing of Polish skipper Karol Jablonski and Kiwi tactician Rod Dawson, with a Russian crew, showed their senior brethren a clean pair of heels.
Earlier they had beaten the likes of Terry Hutchinson and Paul Cayard on Sweden’s Artemis, and, with only a couple of races to go, have played themselves into the top four.
That is still two places behind Origin, which is second to Emirates Team New Zealand, and Ainslie was, for him, rather relaxed about losing a race he knows he could have won.
Nice is all about picking the favoured side of the course and Jablonski, whom Ainslie thought he had shut out in the pre-start manoeuvres, managed to snatch it. “We still should be sure of getting through to the semi-finals and that is what is important,” he said. “These teams all have good people on the tactical side and then it is just a matter of making the sure the boat handling is good.
“We had a bit of a shocker at the last top mark, and we will be talking about that, but it didn’t cost us the race.” Also fighting for the fourth place is Italy’s Azzurra and Artemis with the American challenger BMW Oracle facing elimination.
With the battering of the opening miles from Le Havre behind them, the 11 remaining boats in the Transat Jacques Vabre are on the sunshine conveyor belt to Costa Rica with Britain’s Mike Golding handily holding second place.
Although 58 miles behind the leaders Marc Guillemot and Charles Caudrelier-Benac in Safran, Golding has increase his lead to 10 miles over Kito Pavant and Francois Gabart, third in Bel.
The gap between the leader and fourth-placed Alex Thomson and Ross Daniel in Hugo Boss was over 200 miles, with Dee Caffari and Brian Thompson seventh in Aviva. Last-placed was another, British Artemis, with Samantha Davies and Sidney Gavignet paying the price of a southerly route and having to mend the mainsail, slipping to 600 miles astern.