The battle for supremacy between defending champions Emirates Team New Zealand and new contenders Team Origin of Britain – plus the personal rivalry between skippers Dean Barker and Ben Ainslie – was joined in earnest on the third day of the opening Audi MedCup regatta.
Any disappointment felt by the British America's Cup team at relinquishing the overall lead in the second race of the day was more than matched by the emphatic win in the first, the first for the Juan Kouyoumdjian-designd boat.
"There were no lows out there today," said sailing director Mike Sanderson, "just maybe a few what ifs."
Those what ifs included having to take a penalty turn approaching the top turning mark in the second race. A shifting wind meant that what had looked like a safe cross ahead of Jochen Schuemann at the helm of the Franco-German All 4 One turned into Ainslie balking the right of way boat. The precautionary penalty, taken voluntarily, cost them four places and Origin could only pull one back before the finish in the breezy conditions off Cascais.
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Still, going into Saturday's coastal race and the final short inshore on Sunday, Origin is second to TNZ on the leader board by just three points and has a five-point cushion over third-placed Synergy, the Russian team skippered by Poland's Karol Jablonsky.
The second British boat, Cristabella, skippered by Tim Powell, with a sixth and a 10th, slipped to seventh overall while the injured Terry Hutchinson, skipper of the 2008 champions, Quantum, said he hoped to be back at the helm on Saturday with stand-in Adrian Stead of Britain returning to his tactician role.