Top international crews contend with tricky conditions on the opening day of the Omega Auckland Match Racing Regatta

The Omega Auckland Match Racing Regatta saw some tight racing yesterday in shifty winds and strong tides. The event marks the opening of the Auckland Festival of Sailing, which comprises a series of on and off the water events. The Omega Auckland Match Racing Regatta precedes the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland (9 – 21 March 2010), where five of the skippers from the Omega regatta will also compete.

This regatta has pitched young rising stars Adam Minoprio of New Zealand and his arch rival Torvar Mirsky of Australia against a fleet of more seasoned America’s Cup campaigners. Minoprio and Mirsky, who are ranked one and two in the world, are having their work cut out against more experienced match racers with lower rankings because of their infrequent appearances on the world match racing circuit.

It was Dean Barker who won the tightest match of the day, coming from behind to beat Sebastien Col of France by just 1 second. Barker agreed that if the current conditions continued, it was going to be very difficult for one team to leap clear and dominate. “It is very hard to win races. Everybody is sailing well and everybody is losing some matches.”

The biggest margin of the day saw British Olympic Gold Medallist Ben Ainslie defeat Bertand Pace (FRA) by 1 min 31 secs after a fiery match in which Pace was penalised twice. Ainslie now tops the leaderboard with a 6-2 score, while Dean Barker (NZL), Adam Minoprio (NZL), and Bertrand Pace (FRA) were on 5-3 each.

Flight One

Ainslie bt Dickson by 17 secs; Barker bt Mirsky by 31 secs; Bruni beat Col by 8 secs; Minoprio beat Holmberg by 10 secs; Pace beat Jablonski by 29 secs.

Flight Two

Mirsky beat Bruni by 9 secs; Col beat Holmberg by 5 secs; Dickson beat Minoprio by 31 secs; Jablonski beat Ainslie by 35 secs; Pace beat Barker by 12 secs

Flight Three
Col beat Dickson by 23 secs; Minoprio beat Jablonski by 12 secs; Barker beat Ainslie by 9 secs; Mirsky beat Pace by 14 secs; Holmberg beat Bruni by 18 secs

Flight Four
Minoprio beat Barker by 8 secs; Ainslie beat Pace by 1min 31 secs; Mirsky beat Holmberg by 18 secs; Bruni beat Dickson by 19 secs; Jablonski beat Col by 30 secs

Flight Five

Ainslie beat Mirsky by 47 secs; Holmberg beat Dickson by 5 secs; Jablonski beat Bruni by 7 secs; Barker beat Col by 1 sec; Pace beat Minoprio by 34 secs

Flight Six
Holmberg beat Jablonski by 24 secs; Barker beat Bruni (DNF); Pace beat Col by 24 secs; Ainslie beat Minoprio by 30 secs; Mirsky beat Dickson by 18 secs

Flight Seven
Minoprio beat Col by 48 secs; Jablonski beat Mirsky by 27 secs; Dickson beat Barker by 11 secs; Pace beat Holmberg by 16 secs; Ainslie beat Bruni by 4 secs

Flight Eight
Barker beat Jablonski by 27 sec; Dickson beat Pace by 14 secs; Ainslie beat Holmberg by 44 secs; Col beat Mirsky by 8.5 secs; Minoprio beat Bruni by 1 min 9 secs

Results after Day One:

Ben Ainslie (GBR) 6-2
Dean Barker (NZL) 5-3
Adam Minoprio (NZL) 5-3
Bertrand Pace (FRA) 5-3
Karol Jablonski (POL) 4-4
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) 4-4
Chris Dickson (NZL) 3 / 5
Magnus Holmberg (SWE) 3 / 5
Sebastien Col (FRA) 3 / 5
Francesco Bruni (ITA) 2 / 6