There were two boats out on the racecourse, but it was difficult to depict this fourth Round Robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup as competition.
Emirates Team New Zealand simply strode away from her opponent, Luna Rossa. There was no competition from 15 seconds before the start and the Italians must have been embarrassed to be 15% slower around the 15.43-mile course.
Statistically, the Kiwi team sailed the seven legs in 46’:53', topping 41.16 knots in the shifty 16-18-knot south-westerly breeze. Luna Rossa took 7’:14' longer, and since this was outside the allowable time limit, she was scored as a non-finisher.
ETNZ now has seven points to Luna Rossa’s three and this makes her an automatic qualifier for the final of the Louis Vuitton Cup that starts on August 17th, but it is likely that the Kiwi team will take every opportunity that presents to be out on the racecourse to obtain match practice and further improve its performance. The extra time that has been spent on the water since first launching is proving to be of the greatest value.
At the start, Emirates Team New Zealand leapt out of the blocks to windward of Luna Rossa and was 21 seconds up at the first mark. Foiling perfectly downwind and executing consistently good gybes without dipping the hulls in the water, ETNZ drew away downwind to be just over a minute ahead at the leeward gate.
Upwind the leaders were similarly dominant and trebled the lead to be 3:29 in front to begin the run. The gap between the boats stretched to 1,800 metres due to the better techniques employed by ETNZ. Giles Scott, a top Finn sailor who is a grinder with the Italian team summed it up well: 'We are still having a few teething issues with our boat. We have an awful lot to work on.'
While the pundits were pointing to the polished downwind sailing of Emirates Team New Zealand, the facts point to seriously better upwind speed. On the first beat, ETNZ was 2:20 faster and on the second beat she gained 2:19. They are poles apart at this stage of the competition, but skipper Dean Barker says: 'There’s lots of development to go with the boat.'
by Bob Fisher
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11:40 PM Tue 23 Jul 2013GMT
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