San Francisco and the America’s Cup finally delivered what everyone had been hoping for in Race 4 and 5 of the Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup.
The expected strong breeze missed its forecasted schedule – arriving late, and providing instead a moderate breeze under bright skies.
Luna Rossa fluffed the start of Race 4 dropping 12 seconds and trailed all round, to finish 2minutes 18 secs behind New Zealand. Later it emerged from a discussion picked up in a post race debrief between the Luna Rossa afterguard that their start watch was four seconds out in its timing - an incredible error at this level.
In course which doesn’t seem to have any passing lanes, it is impossible to catch that sort of start and the outcome was inevitable - particularly when your competitor is sailing at 43kts in just 13kts of breeze as Emirates Team NZ did around the first reach mark.
Neither of the boats suffered breakdowns, and the second race of the day started in a slightly stronger breeze, but nevertheless in ideal sailing conditions.
This was a much more close-run affair, and was the first real race of the America’s Cup Regatta.
With an even start, Emirates Team NZ took up their familiar position leading the race, by a narrow margin and extended all the way to the finish.
High point of the match came on the only full upwind leg on the five leg course, when Luna Rossa managed to engage Emirates Team New Zealand in a tacking duel as the boats headed towards the Marina Green shore, closing down the margin to just under 80 metres at one point in the exercise.
The upwind foiling was also bought into play for the first real time in a close race, as both boats opted for a lower angel to the wind, footing it in monohull terms, in an attempt to get over the top of the other boat and hand them/escape the other's wind shadow - or disturbed air from the giant the 40 metre windsails. Speeds jumped to 28-29kts on both boats, as they sought their favoured position, and then dropped back to a more sedate 20-22kts when the position had been gained.
Fans were treated to the unique sight for the regatta of seeing two boats on the same leg of the course – for a nano-second as Emirates Team NZ finished at almost the same time as Luna Rossa rounded the final mark. They eased away to a comfortable margin of 1m19secs at the finish, hitting speeds of just under 40kts along the way. Top speed from Emirates Team NZ on the day was 43.77kts.
by Richard Gladwell
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10:20 PM Wed 21 Aug 2013GMT
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