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Team Sanya win Pro-Am day



Auckland put on a fine day for the three Pro-Am races scheduled to run on short courses on the Waitemata Harbour. Too fine in fact. 


“Auckland was holding its breath,” said legendary yachting commentator Peter Montgomery.


Carrying a large contingent of sponsors, VIPs and headsails too small for the wisp of wind on offer, five of the six Volvo Open 70’s hit the start line off Prince’s Wharf heading towards a windward mark between the Navy Base and Fergusson Container Wharf.


Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing elected to remain in port after discovering an issue with their rig.


The first race, which started just after midday, found the fleet barely able to make headway against the strong incoming tide. Approximately 45 minutes into the race, with only two boats having rounded the windward mark, the race was abandoned. Word came shortly after that Race 2 was cancelled and that the third and final race of the day would start at 2 pm.


After a postponement of nearly 20 minutes, the fickle easterly breeze finally filled in and the final race was started. New Zealand skipper Mike Sanderson of Team Sanya executed a textbook start, approaching the committee boat on starboard tack while the rest of the boats further down toward the pin end of the line chose to come in on port tack.


With the benefit of clear air, positioned away from the cluster, Sanya grabbed an early lead. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand and Groupama chose the left side of the course, which left them pushing against the last bit of a big flood tide while in a wind shadow in the lee of Stanley Point.


Team Sanya, PUMA Ocean Racing powered by Berg and Telefónica fared much better, working up the city side of the course where there was less current and more breeze. Sanya made a perfect call that put them bang on the starboard lay line to the mark, while PUMA were left struggling behind and to leeward being pushed down by current.


Sanya easily rounded the top mark while Puma had to pinch up to get around, leaving her with little pace on after the mark rounding. Telefónica carried her tack well out into the tide, losing ground on the first two boats but still rounding the top mark in third place.


Groupama and CAMPER finally rounded the top mark fourth and fifth respectively, with the lead boats nearly half way down the leg to the finish line.


Sanya executed tidy gybes up the harbour, dropping her genoa a couple of metres with each manoeuvre, which helped the headsail pass smoothly through the fore triangle and quickly set on the opposite gybe. Tidy crew work helped her extend her lead and she finished an easy first. PUMA crossed second and Groupama third.