Two collisions, one serious, marked the opening of the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Dubai.
In the first, Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand speared its spinnaker pole through the side of Mascalzone Latino Audi, steered by Gavin Brady. No-one was hurt, but Brady was penalized twice in the incident and race officials asked Brady to withdraw to avoid further damage to the Kiwi boat.
Cameron Dunn from Mascalzone said his team was head to wind when the New Zealand boat tried to turn inside them and their spinnaker pole sliced into the brittle carbonfiber topsides of the Italian boat.
“It went straight through the carbon fibre,” Dunn said. “It’s not a very thick skin at that point. It’s not designed to take impacts on the side. “We’re lucky it wasn’t much worse. It could have been considerably worse. I’m surprised the bow didn’t hit. Luckily it was just the spinnaker pole. No one was hurt. It was pretty exciting for the 18th man in the back, and the television cameraman.”
Ray Davies, tactician on ETNZ, said: “It was pretty dramatic. Obviously not what anyone wants. A lot of damage, a broken spinnaker pole and a big hole in a boat. It’s not a good way to start, but the guys are working on repairs and it should be OK for tomorrow.”
Following a jury hearing into the collision, Mascalzone Latino Audi was docked one point while ETNZ lost half a point.
In the other incident, young French helmsman Sebastien Col flicked the bow of his French/German boat All4One into the safety wands on the stern of BMW Oracle Racing. The contact earned him a penalty flag and he lost the race.
1: BMW Oracle, 2-0, 2 pts
2= Artemis, 1-1, 1 pt
2= Synergy, 1-1, 1 pt
4: Emirates Team New Zealand, 1-1, 0.5 pts *
5: Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, 1-1, 0 pts *
6: All4One, 0-2, 0 pts
*Scoring penalty deducted by Umpires