Italian Challenger Luna Rossa scored their second point today in a best of seven Louis Vuitton Cup Semi-Final in San Francisco.
After Artemis gained a very small advantage at the start, the Italians had got themselves away to an equal position at the first reaching mark.
However it was a much more convincing performance from Luna Rossa downwind, opening up a big gap downwind, to lead by 82 seconds around the leeward mark, which translated into a lead of around 600 metres by the time the Swedish Challenger had rounded the same corner.
Artemis looked to be losing downwind both in terms of speed and the gybing performance. That was underlined in the first gybe of the race, off Marina Green, when Luna Rossa's speed in the gybe dropped to just 23kts, and Artemis was more than 10 kts slower at the bottom of the gybe. Even more significant was the time taken to rebuild the speed which manifested itself in a 150metre gain for the Italians, after the two boats had been within a boatlength of separation before the manoeuvre.
Upwind, sailing in 13-14kts, Artemis repeated their feat of the same leg in Race 1, holding their own or reducing Luna Rossa's lead in terms of on the water metres. While they got the gap down to just over 500metres at one point, Luna Rossa skipper was sailing more confidently today and extended as the boats rounded the windward mark being around 700metres ahead.
At the next corner, Mark 3, the margin was 110seconds , an increase of 28seconds on the beat.
The cool on Luna Rossa was shattered soon after rounding the windward mark, as Chris Draper stuck the bows in during a gybe, when the AC72 and her towering 40 metre were hit by a sudden gust going into the point of the gybe. She went in with both bows, close to putting the main beam in, however Draper rounded up quickly got the foils working again, and lifted out of trouble.
Luna Rossa’s experience deserted them again at the leeward mark, with a dreadful gybe, stopping the race leader almost dead in the water. Even so she was able to extend again to get out to a lead 131secs at the same corner – dropping 21 seconds on the second run.
On the water, Luna Rossa led by 860 metres, a gain of about 150metres or more on the margin they enjoyed on the same leg, first time up the seven leg course. Boat speeds varied depending on the wind strength – with a knot of wind translating to a knot or more of boat speed on this point of sailing.
Artemis made a big gain on the latter part of the beat taking 60 seconds out of the Italians, at the top mark, but even so their lead was still 1400metres. The reason for both numbers was that winds increased at the top of the course, giving Artemis a boost upwind and stretching Luna Rossa away of the run as the puff moved down the course.
The fallacy of judging performance on margins was again demonstrated by Luna Rossa at the bottom mark, as the Italians butchered their approach to the mark, sailing the last stages slowly and at the wrong angle, just to make the mark, while Artemis steamed up from behind.
This was an ugly win for Luna Rossa, with the final margin being 126 seconds.
After the race Chris Draper said they had not sailed as well as they could, but the wind was dreadfully light at the bottom of the course, passing off their performance on this section of the race. But one wonders if the first finalist, Emirates Team NZ would have been similarly caught.
For Artemis, Nathan Outteridge described it as the hardest day they had on the boat, even though it was the lightest conditions. The team headed back onto the course for more training, but with 10% of the on the water time of the other teams, they have a very steep mountain to climb, with their competitor now halfway to the immediate summit.
by Richard Gladwell
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8:20 PM Wed 7 Aug 2013GMT
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