Louis Vuitton Cup- Softly, softly catchee monkey . . .

Luna Rossa - 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup, Round Robin 2, Race 3

It was nothing more (nor less) than an exercise in sailing an AC-72 in light airs when the Luna Rossa crew graced San Francisco Bay with their elegant silver and red boat for an hour on a grey Tuesday afternoon.

There was no excitement, but none had been expected, although the mandatory body armour seemed superfluous to requirement and more restrictive to movement than the sailors might have preferred.

In the absence of Artemis – still in the giant hangar in Alameda having completed the stress tests and re-build and not expected to be afloat until next Monday – Luna Rossa had the Bay to herself. Chris Draper piloted the Italian boat around the course in south-westerly breezes of between 8.7 and 13.1 knots and just once raised the boat on to full foils at 26.37 knots. Otherwise it was close to displacement sailing.

On what was a 9.21 (nautical) mile five-leg course, Luna Rossa covered 12.6 miles in 43’ 26'. It was roughly the same amount of time that Emirates Team New Zealand had sailed the full seven-leg, 16-mile course a week earlier.

No one expects breezes as light as these for the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup, or the America’s Cup, but Mr. Sod (that omni-present influence of yacht racing) may have his say, and so practice in these conditions could yet be of great importance.

What was noticeable about the set-up of Luna Rossa was the absence of her bowsprit extension – this precluded her crew from setting a large gennaker for the downwind legs. It was a decision that had to be made the evening previous to the race, and is one lesson the Italians may have learned from the day.

On Thursday it is Emirates Team New Zealand’s turn to race the spectral Artemis and on Saturday Luna Rossa will do it all over again. We wait until Sunday for a 'proper' race when the might of Italian yachting meets the in-form Kiwis.

STOP PRESS: The time limit for a five-leg course is 40 minutes. Luna Rossa, therefore finishing 3’ 26' after that, might have been scored as DNF, and as 'neither' boat finished in within the time limit, today’s race would have had to be re-sailed, but the Race Committee did not, as it should have, abandon the race after 40 minutes. As a result, Luna Rossa was awarded one point for the day’s 'parade'.