by Bob Fisher
Team New Zealand pulls ahead slightly before the reach mark in match race 7 of the Louis Vuitton Cup final on August 24, 2013 in SF.
Only a serious breakdown can stop Emirates Team New Zealand from winning the Louis Vuitton Cup. The Kiwis proved once more, in the seventh race of the final series of the challenger selection trials, that they have greater resources in every field – and this materializes as boat speed.
Up wind and down 'Aotearoa' had the mastery of Luna Rossa and there was nothing the Italian team could do to compete. Up wind, it was particularly noticeable, with ETNZ gaining almost a minute. But on the second reach the Kiwis simply flew, topping 47.18 knots (a new record for the team in a race), and gained 47 seconds. 'There’s a real balance,' said skipper Dean Barker, 'between excitement and speed'
Chris Draper, helmsman of Luna Rossa, is happy the morning of the 7th race of the Louis Vuitton final before he goes out to sail on August 24, 2013
The two AC-72s certainly provided the crowd lining the City Front and Marina Green plenty of excitement in the building 18-knot south-westerly breeze. Foiling gybes were regular for both teams, but on one occasion ETNZ was foiling upwind which led rival helmsman, Chris Draper, to observe: 'The only option [for us] is to inflict a penalty on them, because the difference in upwind speed – 30 knots to 23 – is enormous.
Barker was more sanguine, admitting that they had tried foiling on the windward leg: 'There’s a real balance to satisfy between angle [to the wind] and boat speed,' he said. Velocity made good (Vmg) is the crucial factor and no doubt the Kiwis will seek every opportunity, before the America’s Cup match, to experiment in this area.
Draper’s opportunity to inflict a penalty was quickly dissipated in the pre-start. Barker gave him no opportunity to be close enough and was ahead and to windward when the gun fired. From there he was able to pour disturbed air on to the wing of Luna Rossa to be clear ahead at the end of the short first reach.
The four second advantage allowed the New Zealand team to gybe as and when they wanted and this put them even further in front. By the end of the leg they had extended to 29 seconds and the game was virtually over. ETNZ sailed away on the 10.25-mile course to win by 1’58' and go to match point in this best-of-thirteen series.
The breeze had increased beyond the 21-knot limit for a second race to take place. The eighth race (and possibly a ninth if necessary) will be held on Sunday, weather permitting.
Emirates Team New Zealand flies to leeward and then to the finish to win the 7th match race of the Louis Vuitton Cup final on August 24, 2013 in San Francisco, California.
Dean Barker is interviewed by Italian TV after winning the Final of the Louis Vuitton Cup