Louis Vuitton Cup Final, Day 7, Emirates Team New Zealand Vs Luna Rossa
Emirates Team New Zealand won the 30th anniversary Louis Vuitton Cup with a 3:20 victory over Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge in the eighth and deciding race. The Kiwis, who beat Luna Rossa in the previous Louis Vuitton Cup in 2007, won the series 7-1.
The victory makes Emirates Team New Zealand the official challenger to Oracle Team USA for the 34th America’s Cup in the 'September Showdown' beginning Sept. 7. It’s the fifth time in the past six America’s Cup Matches that the Kiwis will be a contestant in the match.
Emirates Team New Zealand led by 16 seconds at Mark 1, 1:31 at Mark 2, 2:58 at Mark 3, and 3:18 at Mark 4.
'To race for the America’s Cup you have to win the Louis Vuitton Cup,' said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker. 'We’ve definitely come here to win the America’s Cup, so winning the Louis Vuitton Cup is all part of the preparation. The guys are extremely focused. We came short in Valencia in 2007 and we’ll give it our all now in the next few weeks to make sure we’re as ready as can be.'
Luna Rossa made the final of the Louis Vuitton Cup for the third time in the past four contests. The widely popular team won the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2000 and finished runner-up to the Kiwis in 2007. The team came into the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup as a late entrant, but has made great strides since the start of racing last month. In the end, they simply ran out of time.
'Again Team New Zealand did a great job. They managed the pre-start and the race well, good job to them. They are a really strong team and I’m looking forward to seeing them racing in the match,' said Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena. 'We started this team late and the main goal for us was to do well in this Louis Vuitton Cup. We are proud of what we achieved. No one was putting us in the Louis Vuitton Cup Final one and a half years ago. I’m proud of all the work done by the team. I said to the guys just before the finish that today starts the new challenge for the next America’s Cup. We’re going to be stronger next time.'
Emirates Team New Zealand and Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge are familiar foes in the America’s Cup arena.
The two teams were finalists in the previous Louis Vuitton Cup in 2007 and also squared off for the 30th America’s Cup Match in 2000. Each time the Kiwis came out on top, as they did again today when they won the 30th anniversary Louis Vuitton Cup, 7-1.
'I’d like to acknowledge Luna Rossa,' said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker. 'We’ve had an amazing relationship with those guys over the last year and a half. Without them we wouldn’t be here. They’ve improved dramatically and have pushed us to keep improving.'
The Kiwis will put their AC72 into the boatshed for a few days of modifications in preparation for the 'September Showdown' in the 34th America’s Cup against ORACLE TEAM USA. The racing begins Sept. 7, but before then Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa will renew acquaintances when the Italian team becomes a sparring partner for the Kiwis.
The two teams have been connected at the hip since Luna Rossa decided in the fall of 2011 to challenge. A late entrant, Luna Rossa purchased a first-generation design package from Emirates Team New Zealand and the teams spent close to three months training in New Zealand after Luna Rossa launched its AC72.
'We’re not happy today because we lost the Louis Vuitton Cup, but we lost to probably – I don’t want to wish them bad luck – one of the best teams on the water,' Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena said, motioning towards the Kiwi crew. 'We have a long history with our teams and it was a pleasure to race them in the final. It’s the first time two challengers have worked so closely together to win the Cup; best of luck to them in the Match.'
Luna Rossa bows out of the competition with its head held high. The Italian team has been a regular participant in the America’s Cup since 2000 and has been a popular champion through the years.
Luna Rossa singlehandedly has spread America’s Cup fever throughout Italy, and after today’s race Sirena said that the team would return for the 35th America’s Cup, whenever and wherever it is held. Sirena is emblematic of the team’s legacy, having started as a mid-bowman with the 2000 team and working his way to skipper for this team.
'It’s been an honor for me to be head of this team,' said Sirena. 'In one and a half years we’ve put together a strong team. We made the Louis Vuitton Cup Final when no one gave us a chance.
'I want to thank Patrizio Bertelli for giving us this opportunity,' Sirena said of Bertelli, the syndicate head. 'I want to thank our Italian and Kiwi supporters, and all the fans of the team. Thanks to everyone – the wives, the parents and the rest of the team. Without them it’s going to be pretty empty hearted.'
For first-time helmsman Chris Draper the loss stung. Draper, 35, is one of the young guns coming up the ranks of America’s Cup helmsmen. He’d never raced a boat without a tiller before taking the wheels of Luna Rossa, but he put forth a strong effort at the wheel of an 'insanely wild' catamaran and showed grace in the face of defeat.
'It hurts bad to lose 7-1,' said Draper. 'It’s an emotional moment. We’re very sad but still very proud of what we’ve achieved in the past two months. We’ve improved so much as a team. It hurts a lot today. It would’ve been nice to finish with a proper ding dong, but we’ll keep our chins up and walk away proud.'
Emirates Team New Zealand advances to the America’s Cup Match for the fifth time in the past six contests, dating back to 1995. It has won twice and lost twice, and going forward it carries the hopes of a nation atop its lofty wing sail.
'It’s really important, I mean really important,' said managing director Grant Dalton of the importance to win for the New Zealand public. 'The team understands that. The culture of the team is based on a non-selfish attitude of trying to take the Cup away from San Francisco, as nice a city as it is.'
Louis Vuitton Cup Final Standings
Emirates Team New Zealand – 7
Luna Rossa Challenge – 1
Race 8 Performance Data
Course: 5 Legs/10.26 nautical miles
Elapsed Time: ETNZ – 33:49, LR – 37:09
Delta: ETNZ +3:20
Total distance sailed: ETNZ – 11.9 NM , LR – 12.3 NM
Average Speed: ETNZ – 21.27 knots (24 mph), LR – 20.04 knots (23 mph)
Top Speed: ETNZ – 41.19 knots (47 mph), LR – 38.73 knots (44 mph)
America’s Cup Schedule (best-of-17 series)
Saturday, Sept. 7: Race 1 (1:10 pm PT), Race 2 (2:10 pm PT)
Sunday, Sept. 8: Race 3 (1:10 pm PT), Race 4 (2:10 pm PT)
Tuesday, Sept. 10: Race 5 (1:10 pm PT), Race 6 (2:10 pm PT)
Thursday, Sept. 12: Race 7 (1:10 pm PT), Race 8 (2:10 pm PT)
Saturday, Sept. 14: Race 9 (1:10 pm PT), Race 10* (2:10 pm PT)
(* If necessary)