I’m a fan of Emirates Team New Zealand and I have no problem admitting that. I often refer to them as the “World’s best monohull sailing team” and I think their track record after the end of the 32nd America’s Cup justifies it, to a great extent.
When Emirates Team New Zealand was racing in the Louis Vuitton Trophy in La Maddalena, Italy about 5 months ago, Grant Dalton’s team suffered from gear failures in various occasions during the round robin but still, after 16 long days of racing, managed to win the event. They beat Russia’s Synergy 3-2 in the final, coming back from 2-0 down.
On May 29th, Dalton wasn’t very happy because he had just lost the race due to “equipment problems”, as he claimed. He claimed that the Louis Vuiton racing format worked if the boats were “good enough”, pointing out that the boats in New Zealand were good while the ones provided there were “substandard”, referring to Mascalzone Latino’s yachts.
Mascalzone Latino crew members struggle with the spinnaker after a halyard failure caused it to fall down on day 2 of the Louis Vuitton Trophy. Dubai, 15 November 2010. Photo copyright Subzero Images/Mascalzone Latino
Back to the future now and it seems it was Mascalzone Latino’s turn today to lose their race due to the “substandard” yacht provided by the kiwis. First the gearbox of the winch broke right off the start line. This obviously put the Italians in a disadvantage as they couldn’t gybe or tack effectively, severely handicapping helmsman Gavin Brady, famous for his aggressive tactics.
Despite the handicap, Mascalzone got ahead at the second top mark and was leading in the last run when they went into a gybe and through its course the spinnaker filled and just came down. For some reason the halyard clip was open, it came undone but it hadn’t been undone for the three minutes before that. From that point it was a walk in the park for the Russians and they bagged a precious point.
As somebody put it, the yacht was falling apart today. I guess Dalton only worries about “substandard” yachts when they are not his…