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26 Aug 2013
Sail-World New Zealand: August 26, 2013 - Kiwis to Challenge again
Emirates Team New Zealand has won its third Louis Vuitton Cup, and once again will take on the mantle of Challenger for the America's Cup.
This is New Zealand's third stint as the Challenger since 1987, in the America's Cup - sailing in multi-challenger Cups. The team has twice Defended, and has always made the Louis Vuitton Cup Final. That is the best record of any team in America's Cup history.
And under the burgee of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, the Team have been the Defender or Challenger in the last five America's Cups.
But for a flat battery in Race 2 of the Final of the Louis Vuitton Cup, when they were leading, the New Zealand team would have won every race they sailed, and convincingly so.
As thoughts shift to the future, that record could be a very positive portent, or their Achilles heel.
The team has never had to come from behind. In all its wins has led out of the first gybe – probably a minute into the race.
One of the imponderables, and which will hopefully be answered by the Challenger before they go into the Match is whether, and how, one can pass on a course which appears to have no passing lanes. From what we have seen to date, the boat which is first out of the first foiling gybe should go on to win the race.
The point being that if one boat is consistently faster than the other out of the gybes, and there are about six of them on each of the two downwind legs – then that advantage is going to take some rubbing out.
Positioning on the course is also crucial, and this is one area that Emirates Team NZ's Ray Davies has been superb. A long –time sailing mate of skipper Dean Barker, Davies always seems to have the position of the AC72, seemingly in his head at any given moment, (but in reality on a tablet strapped to his chest) and even better can give timely advice on the options available, in a calm voice.
Upwind the AC72's have to count their tacks, and in terms of boat positioning they must minimize their tacks, stay out of the worst of the tide, and pick the pressure. In these factors, Emirates Team NZ have been very polished.
The key to New Zealand's performance in the America's Cup will lie in what developments they can bring into what is already a very slick program, in the two weeks that remain, plus what they can learn by sailing against Luna Rossa as a trial horse.
As a venue, San Francisco seems to have some unique issues of its own - including the fog, which really manifested itself on the final day of the Finals. However generally San Francisco has been very good. It is great that racing can be held so close to shore, and hopefully this will continue in future Cups. Whether the course continues to be the one way track, that it has been to date, will be known after the 34th America's Cup Match.
The only issue with San Francisco is the wind limit which has been set very low, in fact the lowest of any regatta of our experience. But for the America's Cup this will click up to the more regulation 25kts and the wind-bogey should be all but gone.
In this edition we cover the bulk of the Final Series, including Am-Cam video shot on Saturday from the edge of San Francisco Bay, by videographer, John Navas, it shows Emirates Team NZ foiling to windward for a sustained period at a top speed just shy of 30kts. They repeated the effort on Sunday, hitting 30kts just before rounding the windward mark , and then clocking 47kts in the rounding process. Will we see the 'Big 50' mark hit this America's Cup?
John has also picked up a stream from Virtual Eye of the foiling to windward sequence, and has cut this in with his video so you can see the speeds as well as the video of the AC72 flying to windward in a race.
The verdict on foiling to windward is that it is not the silver bullet many believed, with the actual gains over Luna Rossa being harder to detect - however it is a great tactical weapon nevertheless. Today it paid a bigger dividend than yesterday.
Today may also have marked the end of Louis Vuitton's involvement in the Challenger Selection Series for the America's Cup. Louis Vuitton have bee a great sponsor, and great for the sport - almost to the point of being too good. For a number of years the Louis Vuitton Cup overshadowed the main event.
Louis Vuitton were at their finest in Auckland in 2000 and 2003. Sadly their involvement was trimmed in 2007 and 2013, and the America's Cup is the poorer for that. Hopefully Louis Vuitton will be back in a re-vamped America's Cup format, but that decision is maybe for another day.
In other America's Cup news, we feature a story on the withdrawn protest by Oracle Team USA, and spoke to Tom Ehman, one of their rules advisers, as to why the protest was lodged and withdrawn two days later. Like many protests, all is not always what it seems on the surface.
We also have an update and a new development in the Rule 69/Article Hearings into the measurement tampering of AC45's by Oracle Team USA. That situation has always been serious, and is now even more so.
Emirates Team NZ hits peak speed of 29.2kts foiling upwind in Race 6 of the Louis Vuitton Cup Final ARL Media
In other news, we carry the story of Doyle Sails taking over Beacon Marinein Westhaven, which will see both the Doyle's operation expand, and Vb>Doyles will acquire a Westhaven sail facility which can only be to everyone's benefit. The Westhaven facility is in addition to their Avondale loft and laminating plant, which is a very impressive facility, both in terms of its size and technology.
In this edition we feature another of the video, and image galleries from Maritime Productions. This one focuses on the 1974 America's Cup which was notable for both the size and qualityof the Defender fleet, and the entry into the America's Cup world of several of the personalities that were to shape the sport for the next ten years - certainly until 1983.
On the defender side there was Ted Turner, Dennis Conner, along with several of the old guard. And on the Challenger side there was Alan Bond, Ben Lexcen and the core of the Australian team that would be the first winning Challenger in 1983.
Don't miss the extract from Bob Fisher's excellent book, An Absorbing Interest, featured in this story.
We have several reports from Hamilton Island Race Week. While there are no New Zealand boats competing that we can see, the regatta is notable for having Ernesto Bertarelli competing aboard the Reichel/Pugh 66 Wild Oats X with his Alinghi team. They also took part in the tug-of-war, see story and pictures, in this edition
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