Emirates Team New Zealand is one race short of successfully Defending the Louis Vuitton Cup, which they last won in 2007.
They won today's margin by a margin of 1m 58secs, after an improved performance by Luna Rossa, however after being in contact, by less than 100 metres on the first run, the New Zealand team stretched away for another win, by what has become a standard margin.
Sailing at speeds that were approximately three kts faster than Luna Rossa on the first reach, Emirates Team NZ could only open a gap of 3secs at the first mark - which opened up to 100 metres or so even though the two boats were sailing similar speeds or the Italians were slightly faster at times.
After splitting gybes Luna Rossa closed the gap to less than 100 metres, but as they came back and got back into phase, and maybe the same breeze, the margin tripled to over 300 metres at the bottom and luna Rossa opted to round the other gate 27 seconds astern.
Luna Rossa made early gains going to the right of the course, and again got the margin down to 210 metres as they crossed tacks, out of phase upwind. but it grew back out to a massive 765 metres at the top of the course, as Emirates Team NZ foiled again to windward coming off the Marina Green shore briefly topping 30kts a few boat lengths from the top mark, and hit 47kts during the rounding maneuver.
They were forced to slow to a pedestrian 19kts as they avoided an approaching Luna Rossa making her approach to the windward mark but the kiwis speed then increased to the regulation 40kts and for the final run as their lead on the water extended to 1870metres for a time. the Italians hit their top speed of the race - doing 42kts towards Marina Green before gybing.
the Kiwis were often slower than the Italians but still rounded with a very handy 1700metre lead at mark 4 or approximately 1m 48 seconds astern, increasing by 10 secs on the short reach to the finish.
After the race, Luna Rossa tactician Francesco Bruni said they had not sailed the perfect race - but were 98%, citing the matchracing ability of Dean Barker, skipper of Emirates Team NZ to get the windward and controlling position at the start, and then using that to drive over the Italians, and then take the lead at Mark 1.
He added that there were is only really one way to sail on the only beat in the five leg course, and while he considered breaking away, it was a more risky option interns of losing the contact they did have with the New Zealanders.
This was the strongest wind for the series, with Emirates Team NZ sailing a maximum speed of over 30kts upwind compared to the 22kts for the Italians. Overall the New Zealanders hit a top speed of 47kts - a new record for the Regatta. But to underline the improvement by the Italians, they only sailed 208 metres more than Emirates Team New Zealand, indicating that the upwind and downwind sailing angles achieved by the Italians were much closer to the New Zealanders than had been the case previously.
The second scheduled race was not sailed, due to winds exceeding the low limit of 22kts, and will be sailed tomorrow, Sunday, local time.
by Richard Gladwell
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8:47 PM Sat 24 Aug 2013GMT
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