Please select your home edition
leaderboard with question mark E6 launch 2021

A tale of two jibs, two touchdowns and two points

by Mark Jardine 14 Mar 2021 23:06 PDT 10-17 March 2021
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and Emirates Team New Zealand get underway in Race 8 of the 36th America's Cup match © America's Cup Media

The drama and pressure in Auckland went off the scale today with intrigue and twists at every turn.

Going into race seven, North Sails President Kenny Read was the first to make the call on the race commentary that Luna Rossa was carrying a much bigger jib than Emirates Team New Zealand. The wind was hovering around 10-12 knots, and this difference was explained brilliantly by INEOS TEAM UK grinder David 'Freddie' Carr, who was in the helicopter for expert insight: the J1.5 Luna Rossa were carrying was for sub-10 knots, whereas the Kiwis smaller J3 is a 10 knot+ sail. Freddie was spot-on saying that getting this right could make a couple of knots of boat speed difference.

The pre-start was fascinating, with both boats gybing into their final approach, but Luna Rossa kept both their foils down to reduce the speed, giving them options going into the line. Emirates Team New Zealand had too much speed to burn, whereas Jimmy Spithill went high of the line, built up speed, and used this to slingshot past the Kiwis at the start gun - superb tactics by Spithill to completely outwit Peter Burling and take the early advantage.

In a manoeuvre reminiscent of race one, but with the roles reversed, Burling went for a desperate luff and called for a penalty, but it was never going to stick, and the Italian team were away.

After some nip and tuck racing going into Leg 3, both teams rounded the same mark, but the Kiwis tacked straight away into clear air. With the smaller jib they were faster than the Italians and the decisive move of the race came when Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli was forced to tack to leeward of Emirates Team New Zealand and the Kiwis simply rolled over the Italian boat. A 10 second deficit at the leeward gate was turned into a 19 second lead going into Leg 4.

A big windshift to the left made the race very processional, with the Kiwis gybing at the final top mark to blast downwind on starboard nearly all the way to the finish line, but they had this race wrapped up much earlier. A 58 second win put the pressure right back on the challengers who would be ruing their jib call.

Race eight had it all with the spectators and fans on the edge of their seats.

A tight start saw Emirates Team New Zealand forced to tack away and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli taking the early advantage in a softening breeze. Luna Rossa had once again gone for the bigger jib and this time it looked like the right call as they sailed into a confident lead.

On Leg 2, with Luna Rossa seemingly having a jib trim problem, the Kiwis were closing fast and looked poised to take the lead. In a move driven by pure instinct, Peter Burling chose to gybe close to the Italian boat's stern to avoid being forced left on the racetrack. In the 49er this would have been exactly the right move, keeping control of their race, but with the AC75s boats being so much faster than the wind, Emirates Team New Zealand sailed straight through the wing wash of the Italian boat and fell off the foils, wallowing in light winds as Jimmy Spithill, Francesco Bruni and the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team simply sailed away into the distance, taking a 2-kilometre lead. The Kiwis eventually took off again, rounding the leeward mark 4 minutes and 8 seconds behind.

It was all looking so good for Luna Rossa until the final tack of Leg 3 resulted in a touchdown. The orchestration of all the elements needs to be pitch perfect in light winds and something went amiss. It was their turn to wallow, crossing over the boundaries three times trying to get their steed to rise, each time picking up penalties which were easily removed as the Kiwis shredded the Italian lead.

With the smaller jib Peter Burling, Blair Tuke and Glenn Ashby were piloting Emirates Team New Zealand's AC75 'Te Rehutai' on a knife edge. All the experience from Burling's International Moth and Ashby's A Class Catamaran World Championship wins was put to the test. The entire home nation held their breath through every manoeuvre as that 4-minute deficit was turned into a 4-minute lead.

The race was shortened to finish at the end of Leg 5 and the Kiwis walked the tightrope, held their nerve, and took their second win of the day to finally break the deadlock and take a 5-3 lead in the 36th America's Cup match.

David 'Freddie' Carr summed it up when asked what the Italian team must have felt when they fluffed their tack: "It totally sucks."

Related Articles

Just a second
Hull 1 of the Farr X2 has lost its keel offshore - the remains have washed up Hull #1 of the Farr X2 has lost its keel offshore, and the remains have washed up on a beach on the South Coast of NSW. Mercifully, the two sailors on board are alive, and subsequently had a wee sojourn in hospital to ensure all is well. Posted on 3 Jul
14s Forever
Nothing lasts forever.... unless you're an International 14 The International 14 would bring the giants of 'between the wars' dinghy design, Morgan-Giles, Thornycroft and Fox, to the fore whilst at the same time laying the foundations of sailing competition on the international stage. Posted on 1 Jul
Understanding safety onboard
With Ocean Safety Ambassador Dee Caffari MBE and Ocean Safety MD Alistair Hackett's Mark Jardine talks to Ocean Safety Ambassador Dee Caffari MBE and Ocean Safety MD Alistair Hackett to get a better understanding of the safety features needed onboard yachts. Posted on 29 Jun
The utterly brilliant Foiling SuMoth Challenge
Promoting sustainable practices by challenging young naval architecture and engineering students The Foiling SuMoth Challenge is a competition inspired by the need of a more sustainable and efficient sailboat designs and manufacturing methods. Posted on 28 Jun
What do you get...
...when you cross The Jacksons, Milli Vanilli, and Engelbert Humperdinck? An unreal Centre Console! What do you get when you cross The Jacksons, Milli Vanilli, and Engelbert Humperdinck all together? Honestly, I have no idea, and it could get amazingly weird, but I do know we have the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s all covered in that lot. Posted on 23 Jun
A Fine Line
Dinghy historian Dougal Henshall looks at race officers and start lines As the world around us reblooms after the constraints of lockdown, there is plenty of food for thought surrounding the debate as to something of a reset for dinghy racing. Older sailors talk in nostalgic terms of the delights of the 'golden era'. Posted on 22 Jun
R2AK, Newport Bermuda Race, Mac Solo Challenges
R2AK update, Newport Bermuda Race, Mac Solo Challenges The past week has been a big one for North American sailing, with the start of the Race to Alaska, the Newport Bermuda Race, and the Great Lakes Singlehanded Society's Mac Solo Challenges. Posted on 20 Jun
Not just another...
…case of miscellaneous ramblings. You might say that, but you could well have missed the point. …case of miscellaneous ramblings. I mean, yes, you might say that, but you could well have missed the point right there. Posted on 20 Jun
Vortex Pod Racer: fly me to the moon
Or: how the Asia Editor went foiling! “I want to go foiling, so I'm designing a gentleman's foiler..." and he drew it on the back of a fag packet (actually, it was a napkin). Posted on 17 Jun
France SailGP's sustainability and diversity work
Bruno Dubois on the France SailGP Team's sustainability and diversity efforts I checked in with Bruno Dubois, team manager of the France SailGP Team, via email, to learn more about their Season 3 sustainability and diversity efforts. Posted on 15 Jun
Lloyd Stevenson Catalyst 45 728x90px2 BOTTOMCyclops 2022 May FOOTERSea Sure 2021 - RED - FOOTER