Team Origin storm into Audi MedCup lead

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The Independent Online

Britain's star-studded crew on Team Origin went storming into the lead of the Audi MedCup after the fifth race at the end of the second day and came within one second of notching up the first win for their brand new, Juan Kouyoumdjian-designed 52-footer.

Skipper Ben Ainslie had first hunted down Swedish rival Artemis, with owner Torbjorn Tornqvist and skipper Paul Cayard sharing the driving duties and then was just pipped at the post, a decision being queried post-race by Origin..

Ainslie is well known for playing the waves when sailing downwind, technique that has brought him Olympic gold medals in both the Laser and Finn singlehanded classes. He and his 11 crew, watched by father Roddy, from the chase boat, had put in a cracking start with tactician Iain Percy at his shoulder.

They had then gone round the last turning mark in third place behind a man who also has three Olympic golds and a silver, Jochen Schuemann, at the helm of the Franco-German America's Cup team boat All 4 One.

"The guys did a fantastic job of joining the dots together," said Origin sailing director Mike Sanderson. "We're learning the boat quickly and to be leading at the end of the second day is pretty exciting. I can't say enough about all the good things that went into the boat."

Ainslie, who put a large chunk of their final leg gain down to having picked early a decision to move into a more favourable vein of wind, said: "There's still a long way to go but it's good that were are doing our fighting at the right end of the fleet.

Click here for video footage from the Aufi MedCup.

A prestart head injury saw American skipper Terry Hutchinson being lifted off his TP52 Quantum and rushed to the local hospital in Cascais.

British tactician and former Olympic sailor Adrian Stead took over from Hutchinson and steered the boat to second in the first race of the day as Hutchinson was checked for concussion after being hit by the mainsail boom. He is also expected to be racing again at the weekend..

Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker, for whom Hutchinson had been tactician in the 2007 America's Cup, had followed a win in the final race of day one with another bullet to open day two keep the defence of his 2009 title on course. His fourth in the second race pushed the Kiwis up to second overall, just two\points behind the Brits with an offshore race scheduled for Friday and up to three shorter inshores for Saturday and Sunday.

A cracker of a start by Ben Ainslie and tactician Iain Percy in the second race translated into a third as the northerly breeze freshened to just over 20 knots

First day leader Cristabella lost ground when a squall blew the gennaker out of control and into the water while being dropped at the downwind turning mark. A fifth and a ninth dropped helmsman Tim Powell, tactician John Cutler and crew to sixth overall.

And the more breezy conditions had cost the Spanish yacht Bribon, with double silver Olympic medallist Ian Walker as tactician, broken battens in the mainsail, forcing it to retire from the first race.

Click here for video footage from the Aufi MedCup.

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