by Bob Fisher
Tenders alongside Luna Rossa - Final of Louis Vuitton Cup, Day 3, August 19, 2013
Maybe, just maybe, one day will see two boats finishing a race, and perhaps even the second scheduled race taking place, but not today.
Malfunction in the wing controls put Luna Rossa out of the race shortly after starting the third leg, and Emirates Team New Zealand finished to put the Kiwis 2 – 1 up in this first-to-seven wins final.
The start was close fought with the Italians to windward after a relatively passive pre-start sequence. But even being half a length ahead when the gun fired was insufficient to prevent Dean Barker from snatching the inside berth at the first mark to start the run with a three second lead.
Luna Rossa was the first to gybe, quickly followed by the Kiwis, both executing good foiling manoeuvres. There was little between then as they headed for the offshore boundary where Emirates Team New Zealand made a better gybe – Luna Rossa temporarily coming off the foils – and the gap between them was 150 metres.
What was noticeable was that the speed of the two boats was virtually identical. The only difference was made by the execution of the gybes.
The Kiwis gained slightly before the leeward gate but were only 20 seconds in front as they passed through the gate at Mark 2. It was on the first tack that disaster struck the luckless Italians. 'When you hear a bang,' said skipper Max Sirena, 'you know just where to look.' It was part of the complex wing control system and was not the matter of a moment’s fix.
Luna Rossa was out of the race and the Kiwis continued in the 18 knot south-westerly breeze to complete the 10.07 mile course in 23’:18' to add another point to their score. 'We were racing just as hard,' said Dean Barker of the way ETNZ was sailed without a rival in attendance. To which Chris Ward added: 'You never like to win when the other boat breaks down.'
Then the matter of the second race began to rear its ugly head. Would Luna Rossa be forced to play its lay-day card, or would it once again be saved by the 21-knot wind limit? Just before the race was due to start, the wind had exceeded the limit and there was a short postponement, but the wind continued to rise. The Race Committee called it off and Luna Rossa limped to her base where the wing was removed for overnight repairs.
There is no racing on Tuesday and the Louis Vuitton Cup final will continue on Wednesday with, hopefully, two races.