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Kiwis draw first blood in LVC—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 19 Aug 2013
Emirates Team New Zealand bury the bows in the bear away at the top mark in their first race of the Louis Vuitton finals against Luna Rossa Challenge. Rob Waddell and Chris Ward were lost over board.17/8/2013 Chris Cameron/ETNZ©
While rumors have been swirling for the past two weeks about the huge on-the-water performance gains made by the Italian-flagged Luna Rossa Challenge in the ongoing Louis Vuitton Cup, these purported gains didn’t stop Emirates Team New Zealand from drawing first blood in Race One of the LVC Finals. Unfortunately for the Italians, they suffered a mechanical problem on their starboard daggerboard assembly, which prevented them from attaining proper trim. As a result, skipper Max Sirena and his silver-clad crewmembers dropped out of the race shortly after loosing the start to skipper Dean Barker and his ETNZ crew.

'A composite part of the lifting system broke,' reported Sirena. 'We did a bit of work on the daggerboard to try to improve the aero package [last week]. We chopped part of the board and lifting post and moved all of the attachments on the board. We sailed five days with it and then today it broke. Luckily it broke during the reaching leg and not a jibe, otherwise it could’ve been another nosedive.'

But the racecourse action didn’t end with the Italians merely limping back home. Instead, ETNZ came precariously close to capsizing after burying her bows during a bear off after the last windward-mark rounding. According to reports, ETNZ dug deep trenches in San Francisco’s salty brine with her chisel-like bows and saw green water all the way to the forward crossbeams.

Dramatic video footage of the incident (available in this issue) shows ETNZ’s AC72 decelerating from 40-plus knots to 13 knots in just a few boatlengths, chucking crewmembers Rob Waddell and Chris Ward into the drink (they were immediately rescued by chase boats) and destroying the port-side forward aerodynamic fairing. ETNZ completed the course alone, no doubt feeling a bit shaken and bruised, but not badly broken.

'I [was] on the forward pedestal and was holding on for dear life,' said ETNZ grinder Chris McAsey. 'I was the second guy under water, with Jeremy Lomas in front of me. I was holding on as hard as I could. It all was a blur, everything’s wet and white, you come up, there’s a bit of broken carbon around the place and we’re two guys short. From there on it was just a matter of trying to cover the two guys lost.'

Always cool and collected, Barker’s report was more analytical. 'We came in there with good pressure. Through the turn we were always going to pick up a decent increase in speed,' said Barker. 'I’m sure there are a few things we could’ve done better.'

The second of yesterday’s scheduled races was cancelled due to high winds, but racing is slated to continue today on San Francisco Bay. Inside, get the full media download from yesterday’s race, and be sure to stay tuned to the website today for the latest news, as it becomes known.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, the newly minted J/111 class is having their first North American Championships in Chicago (July 14-18). Despite fairly light winds, the fleet has enjoyed some cerebral, tactical battles that have delivered more than one roller-coaster ride of fortune for competing sailors. Get the full report, inside, and stay tuned for the final results from this event, as they unfurl.

Also inside, get the wrap-up report from the CORK Olympic Classes Regatta and the U.S. Youth Sailing Championships, and be sure to get the full explanation of the 'extra weight' (non)issue that Oracle Team USA recently faced with three of its AC45 class catamarans. Enjoy!

May the four winds blow you safely home,

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