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Louis Vuitton Cup- No fogging contest - Challenger is chosen

by Bob Fisher on 26 Aug 2013
Emirates Team NZ and Luna Rossa in the pre-start dance, Louis Vuitton Cup Final, Day 8 John Navas

Emirates Team New Zealand completed the first stage of its America’s Cup challenge by summarily defeating Luna Rossa in the eighth race of the Louis Vuitton Cup final to bring the score to a definitive 7 -1.

It is now time for the Kiwis to march on to meet Oracle Team USA in the match.

San Francisco lived up to its reputation and its pseudonym 'Fog City' for this race. It was down on the course for much of the race and hitherto unused techniques were pressed into service. Navigation was no longer an eyeball affair but one of calculation and the Kiwis were up to this extra challenge.

The race began in 13 knots of south-westerly breeze with Luna Rossa entering the starting area on port tack. Helmsman Chris Draper went initially for the leeward side but Dean Barker, the New Zealand skipper appeared unperturbed and set up for a time-on-distance start on a line he could hardly discern in the thick mist.

Barker’s move paid handsomely and ETNZ rounded the first mark at the end of a fast reach with a 16-second lead. As there has only been one passing move in the entire series, it could be said that the race was all over there, but the question of the position of the leeward gate added to the sailors’ problems
As the two AC-72s went down the run at close to 30 knots (almost three times the wind speed) with Code 0 gennikers set, foiling gybes were out of the question, but the gybes performed by Emirates Team New Zealand were the better and the gap between them grew.

As the two boats cleared the bottom gate to start the upwind leg, that gap was 1’31'. Ray Davies’ tactics were called into play as the Kiwis favoured the City Front shore, where there was less adverse tidal stream. 'We’re getting into more and more breeze all the time,' declared Barker. It was not a day, however, to experiment with foiling upwind but still ETNZ demonstrated superiority, stretching its lead to more than 800 metres.

After rounding the windward mark with a lead of 2’58', Barker could have relaxed but showed no sign of relenting in the search for speed as the time limit for the race was also a challenge. He need not have had any concern, Emirates Team New Zealand completed the 10.26-mile course in 33’49', well inside the 40 minute time limit to take the Louis Vuitton Cup that it has last won in 2007.

Luna Rossa finished 3’20' in arrears and received as big acclaim as the winners from the weekend crowd along the piers and the foreshore. Max Sirena announced that in the spirit of the challengers, Luna Rossa would stay in commission to assist Emirates Team New Zealand in its assault on the America’s Cup, which starts on September 7th. 'We are very proud of what we have achieved,' said Draper, 'Those guys [ETNZ] have put an amazing act together, and we will help them.'

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