Synergy secures spot in top four with a thrilling win over Azzurra

Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) will win the round robin and have the opportunity to select its opponent in the semis. ETNZ did not race today and has one match remaining, against Synergy Russian Sailing Team, but the Kiwi team led by skipper Dean Barker has a 9-1 record and cannot lose the top spot.
The Kiwis will pick their opponent from a group including:
2. TeamOrigin (8-3)
3. Azzurra (7-4)
4. Synergy (6-4)

After starting the regatta 0-3, the Russian crew today won its fifth consecutive match and sixth out of seven with a hard-fought victory over Azzurra. Synergy now stands at 6-4.
The second half of the leaderboard looks like this:
5. Artemis (5-6)
6. BMW Oracle Racing (4-7)
7. All4One (3-8)
8. TFS – PagesJaunes (1-10)

These four teams will race a knockout round to determine places fifth though eighth concurrent with the semi finals.
Today (16 November), after the morning northerly blew itself out the wind shifted to the east and built. Synergy ensured its advance to the semis with the win over Azzurra in a classic match race. The two crews were rarely separated by more than two boatlengths, but there was only one “Y” flag requesting a ruling from the on-water umpires. It was in the pre-start and it was green.
Synergy again got the right-hand side of the start line and Azzurra started at the pin. The Italians quickly tacked to port once on the racecourse and a tacking duel ensued up the 1.4-nautical mile leg to the windward mark with Synergy protecting the right side of the course. There were stretches where the two yachts sailed overlapped on the same tack for up to 2 minutes, with neither showing a real speed edge. During one stretch on port tack Synergy, to leeward, was able to foot out and force Azzurra to tack away. Synergy then covered in a windward position and drove the match to the port layline to round the windward mark with an 8-second advantage.
Azzurra made a charge to the finish, having closed to within one boatlength. But after a jibe to port Azzurra hardened up to roll over the top of Synergy. Then, with the asymmetric spinnaker loaded, the sail split from luff to leech just below the head patch. Race over.
“I think Synergy was strong on us but by pushing to edge we thought their spinnaker might blow. It was a 50-50 chance,” said Francesco Bruni, Azzurra skipper. “That was one of best races I’ve ever sailed in Cup boats. I really enjoyed it. Every leg was close and each crew did a fantastic job.”
Although the leaderboard is determined, the pairings for the semi finalists and knockout round won’t be announced until after tomorrow’s race. The match between Emirates Team New Zealand and Synergy is scheduled to start at 12:10 CET.
Other matches today included BMW Oracle Racing defeating Artemis by 36 seconds, TeamOrigin beating All4One by 48 seconds, Azzurra beating BMW Oracle by 1:01 and Artemis defeating TFS – PagesJaunes by 1:03.

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