Emirates Team New Zealand ran away to their biggest win of the Louis Vuitton Cup regatta with a 7m 19 second margin at the finish of Round Robin 4, Race 1 and has emerged as the winner of the Round Robin phase.
Commentators reported that after apparently hitting the bottom of the harbour just after launching, the Italian boat was re-hoisted and had her rudders checked. She looked uncomfortable at times during the race, manifested in a slow start when she started well after Emirates Team New Zealand crossing the line 21.4 kts, compared to the New Zealanders 30.5kts, and rounded the first mark a massive 21 seconds behind.
On the first downwind, sailing in winds said to be 16kts, the New Zealanders have a sailing demonstration of speeds in excess 37-38kts, although at times the speed differential between the two boats was not that great, depending on who was in the stronger puff in the breeze.
Even so, Emirates Team New Zealand had stretched away to a lead of 63 seconds, and a lead of 735 metres , at the bottom mark, indicating that they were able to sail better and deeper angles, as well as losing less speed with better executed foiling gybes than the Italians.
From there the Kiwi's cat stretched her legs, sailing higher and with similar speed, slowly building a lead over the Italians. Both boats worked the Alcatraz shore, before crossing to the Bayside out of the flooding tide. Emirates stretched to a lead of 1162metre at the top mark, before easing away into the bear away. Luna Rossa rounded 3minutes 29 seconds astern, with less than half the course sailed.
The wind increased to just under 20kts for the next run, with Emirates Team NZ now over 3400metres ahead of Luna Rossa as NZL5 rounded the bottom Mark 4, with a lead that was now over four minutes.
Upwind for the final time it was the familiar story of Emirates Team NZ picking the puffs, positioning their boat properly on the course, and sailing higher but with no speed advantage. The Kiwis picked the final layline to perfection, and rounded 1964 metres ahead, with a 6minute 22 second margin at the top - a gain of 2m 19 secs on the windward leg.
Now almost a full length of the course ahead - showing over 5000metres on Virtual Eye, the Italians had one of the best legs holding the Kiwis to a 42 second gain on the downwind leg.
At this point the margins became slightly confused with the Italians rounding the final mark 7 m 5secs astern and finishing 7m 19 back at the finish. At the time NZL5 crossed the finish line, hitting 39.4kts on the final reach, the Italians were still off Marina Green.
Probably not a lot can be read into the win, in the race which ran for almost an hour at 54m 13 secs. The Italians clearly had issues on board the boat and appeared to be nursing her at times. Also while they have clearly come off second best against the New Zealanders, they are the only Team to have raced against them.
From this win, Emirates Team NZ gained sufficient points to be unbeatable in the Round Robin, and now have the option of picking up more contested race practice in the Semi-Finals, or going straight through to the Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup which start a week later on August 15.
All times and distances taken off real time data from Virtual Eye click here to view - go to Historical Data to get a replay on each race sailed, or view Live. Requires Silverlight for the first use in a browser, which will download and install automatically.
by Richard Gladwell
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8:19 PM Tue 23 Jul 2013GMT
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