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America's Cup Match Day 3 - A turbulent day on the Hauraki Gulf

by Ben Gladwell - Sail-World NZ 13 Mar 2021 07:18 PST 14 March 2021
America's Cup match day 3 - Emirates Team New Zealand © ACE / Studio Borlenghi

The teams squared off once again on Day 3 of the America’s Cup Match would the developing trend of the port entry boat going on to win the race continue?

Emirates Team New Zealand will started Race 5 with port entry to the start box and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli entered on port for Race 6. In all four races thus far in the match, the boat who entered the start box on port has won the start and then gone on to win the race.

Breezes out on Course A, just to the north of Rangitoto Lighthouse were once again in the sub 10 knot range. Pundits have it that this should play better into the hands of Luna Rossa with their larger main foils that require a less aggressive angle of attack to maintain flight than ETNZ’s smaller foils, and therefore generating less drag.

Here's how the racing unfolded.

Race 5

The two AC75s set up quite close together with ETNZ electing to lead back to the line, setting up to windward of Luna Rossa. Both boats were very early for the start, trying to burn time on their run back to the line. Luna Rossa pinched up and got to windward and well ahead of ETNZ who were battling to stay on their foils. The Italian boat was much powered up and cleared out away from the Kiwis.

ETNZ tacked away from the wind shadow of Luna Rossa and headed for the right-hand boundary and Luna Rossa for the left. When the boats came back together for the first cross, Luna Rossa had established a sizeable lead for so early in the race, nearly 200m ahead already.

Up this first beat, ETNZ showed to be sailing a low and fast mode, which appeared to be paying off as their VMG was consistently a few clicks faster than Luna Rossa, however having to do an extra manoeuvre up the beat meant that they were not able to make any inroads, rounding 32 seconds behind. ETNZ certainly had a sizeable mountain to climb early in the race.

On the first run Luna Rossa stretched out to a lead of more than 300m which on the downwind leg is less dramatic than it sounds, as the boat who reaches the top mark first generally picks up 50 to 80 metres by virtue of accelerating up to 40 plus knots while the trailing boat is still sailing upwind at around 30 knots.

ETNZ didn’t pick a great lay line on the approach to the bottom mark and weren’t able to make any gains stick on the first downwind leg, rounding again 32 seconds behind.

New Zealand sailed a nice second beat and clawed back some of the deficit to get within 170 metres on the second upwind leg. In a slight departure from the typical Spithill/Bruni strategy, Luna Rossa was sailing a much more reactive race whereas Emirates Team New Zealand were sailing the wind shifts and backing their boat speed. Despite doing an extra tack up the beat, ETNZ picked up 10 seconds on that leg and rounded 22 seconds adrift.

Luna Rossa sailed a very strong run, with the NZ boat again electing to do another manoeuvre to try to gain a split course which translated to a 4 second loss on the second run, rounding the penultimate mark 27 seconds back.

Running out of runway on the final lap of race 5, Emirates Team New Zealand were powerless but to watch Luna Rossa execute yet another faultless couple of leg. The challenger held the defender easily at bay all the way to the finish, eventually winning by more than 20 seconds.

Race 6

It would be Luna Rossa who entered from the favoured port side in Race 6. As usual, the boats headed to the far right hand corner of the start box, with Emirates Team New Zealand setting up to windward on their run back towards the start with plenty of chatter coming off the boats on race radio.

ETNZ nailed their time on distance, starting at full pace and getting the windward lane about a a boat length to leeward of the start boat. In a complete reversal of the previous race, Luna Rossa having entered from the lauded port side were left struggling to cross the start line as the Kiwis scorched away to a 250m lead very early.

As though keen to dispel any theory that the sailing community might develop about the boats or the racing itself, in races 5 and 6 the crews have effectively put to bed the rumours about the strength of a one side of the start box.

In a similar theme to yesterday, once ETNZ got their bow into some clear air, they were a forced to be reckoned with, launching up the first beat to a lead of 51 seconds at the first mark. On the first downwind leg, the Kiwi boat would extend their already enormous lead even further, cruising away from the challenger to a lead of 1:06. Allowed to do what they are used to, and sail on their own, they present a formidable sight. As they approach the top half of the second beat, their lead is out to 700m.

As they reached the top of the second beat the Italian crew had pulled back 2 seconds on their rivals, still rounding more than a minute behind however on the ensuing downwind the Kiwis showed a serious turn of pace, clearing out to be 1:13 ahead at the start of the final lap.

Emirates Team New Zealand kept the foot hard to the floor on the last upwind and would sail away to begin the final leg with a 1:22 head start. It seems ETNZ is seriously quick when they are able to slot into the mode of sailing that they know, sailing alone with a clear racecourse.

After 6 races the scoreboard is again all locked up, now at 3-3.

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