The two protagonists in the Louis Vuitton Cup semi-final races, Artemis Racing and Luna Rossa, faced the media at a series preview on Friday morning. It provided an opportunity for comparison, not so much of the teams as their beliefs. Both have had their setbacks. Luna Rossa’s latest only two days ago when the red and chrome AC-72 was towed sideways, by two support boats, back to her base.
Helmsman Chris Draper explained: 'We had a little bit of damage on the wing at one stage, it’s the newer wing, and the damage is not major. We managed to unload the wing very quickly.' He added: 'There’s quite a lot of work to do on the boat – this is just another item.'
It was the newer wing that was damaged, although Draper tended to shrug this off: 'While wing two is a little more refined than wing one, we are quite happy to use the original,' he declared.
He then turned his thoughts to his opponents, particularly his rival helmsman Nathan Outteridge: 'I first came across Nathan at the 49er Worlds in 2006, which I won and he was seventh, but I thought at the time, ‘Here’s someone who is going to be very quick. He’s a great sailor, a keen sailor who has proved himself. He doesn’t hesitate much at all, and that’s what makes him so good. You have to be bold when you sail a fast boat.’ The boats will be much the same speed, or at least that’s what we think, and hope, so that it will come down to a match race and we look forward to that.'
Outteridge was keen to explain the differences he had found in foiling an AC-72 relative to the smaller boats he had experienced: 'The main difference in foiling one of these and a Moth or the AC-45 is the huge momentum that these boat develop. You have to be patient. You need ten people to be doing their jobs properly in order to foil-gybe.’
When asked what he felt Artemis Racing needed, he was straight to the point: 'We need time in the boat,' he said. 'We’re just trying to learn it all in the fastest time possible. This has been the best two weeks of sailing I have ever done. I expect that we are a little off the pace after watching them sail against New Zealand. We are improving our straight-line speed every day. If all goes well we could take a few races from them.'
The difference is that when these two teams face on another on Tuesday, August 6th, Artemis racing will have had 40 hours sailing its boat compared to 80 days that Luna Rossa has been training since its launch.
One question remained unanswered. Following the tragic accident on May 9th, was any thought given by the Artemis team to throw in the towel? Skipper Iain Percy, who appears physically and mentally drained, was initially reflective: 'It was only when I returned here (from Andrew Simpson’s funeral in the UK) that I realized we had our own family here at Artemis Racing. To have retired from racing was unthinkable. The new boat just had to be built – and it was.'
Of his semi-final opponents, Percy was pragmatic: 'I think it very unlikely we have the speed to beat them,' he said, adding: 'with any new boat you are developing your speed over the time, rapidly at first, but continuously. Knowing the things we would like to do, it seems unlikely that in the year of sailing that they have had that they haven’t already done most of them.'
by Bob Fisher
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8:56 PM Fri 2 Aug 2013GMT
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