Please select your home edition
Coast Guard Foundation LEADERBOARD 3

America's Cup Match Day 6 - Kiwis on Match Point but Luna Rossa still has good chance

by Ben Gladwell - Sail-World NZL 15 Mar 2021 22:59 PDT 16 March 2021
Emirates Team NZ - America's Cup - Day 6 - March 16, 2021 Course C © Richard Gladwell /

Emirates Team New Zealand took another step towards a successful Defence of the America's Cup, after a come from behind win against Italian Challenger Luna Rossa who led for much of the six-leg race.

Race 9 of the 36th Match took place on the stadium-style Course C which is perfect for both overtaking and land-based spectating. The breeze was a solid 12-14 knots with plenty of shifts for the crews to work on.

Only one race was sailed today after the breeze took a while to settle in direction. It then dropped in strength and turned funky close to the deadline of a 6.00pm start, and Regatta Director Iain Murray wisely decided to abandon the start of the second race.

The series will continue on Wednesday with Luna Rossa required to win every race of the four left in the 13 race series and Emirates Team New Zealand having to win just one more race. However a comeback of this nature is not a big ask - once a Challenger or Defender get on a roll, the results seem to keep coming - particularly when two races are held each day only an hour apart, in similar conditions.

The forecast for tomorrow is for winds from the SE - and racing should again be back on Course A.

Here's how today's action unfolded.

Race 9

Emirates Team New Zealand entered the start box on port, sailing at a click under 50 knots, this is certainly the strongest breeze we have seen in the Match thus far. The stronger winds meant that the boats were covering ground significantly faster than usual, having to turn at the boundary inside the start box with almost 1:30 to go until the start. ETNZ would gybe and set up deep in the start box while Luna Rossa elected to tack and set themselves well to windward.

On completing their tack, Luna Rossa dove down to leeward, trying to get down closer to the Kiwi crew and set themselves up on the layline to make for the right hand end of the start line. Both boats carved some sharp arcs inside the start box and then put both boards down and foiled directly into the wind trying to wash off some of the immense speed they were carrying. Luna Rossa was set slightly beyond the right hand end of the start line, giving themselves plenty of room to accelerate, however ETNZ was pinching well up towards the same end of the line and as the right-of-way boat trying to shut Luna Rossa out of the start line.

ETNZ would cross the start line slightly ahead of Luna Rossa but the Italian boat was far enough to windward of the Kiwis so that they were unaffected by their dirty air. The typical pinching-contest ensued, with both boats trying to sail as high as possible as they made their way to the left hand boundary. In a change to the usual course of proceedings, ETNZ looked to have the better high-mode and shut down the gap between themselves and Luna Rossa and pushed out ahead of them.

When they tacked in sync at the boundary, they swapped places with ETNZ then assuming the the windward position. It took Luna Rossa some time to assert their usual dominance in this situation, with ETNZ holding on until 2/3 of the way across the course, eventually splitting off and handing Luna Rossa a 20 metre lead. The boats approached the top mark from opposite sides of the course and rounded opposite top marks, setting up a natural split for the next leg which played perfectly into the hands of ETNZ. Whether it was boat speed, more favourable winds, or a combination of the two; the Kiwi’s raced past the Italian crew, showing VMG numbers 2-3 knots faster all the time on this first downwind.

The Kiwi boat was posting VMG of nearly 40 knots at times, something not seen from any of the other AC75s. As they entered the bottom of the course, Luna Rossa picked up a nice shift and got back in front on the left hand side of the course. They would gybe back to match the Kiwis and stay in sync and hold them all the way out until they were ready to gybe. Francesco Bruni and Jimmy Spithill made the most of their rights to sail the Kiwi boat off the course and held them out well beyond the layline at the bottom mark, making the Kiwis wait for the Italian boat to gybe before they could head for the mark. Luna Rossa would round 8 seconds in front.

For the second upwind, the Kiwi boat would head to the right early on and the Italians to the left. The right looked to be the better side of the course and the lead that Luna Rossa had established began to erode as the boats bounced off opposite boundaries. ETNZ showed impressive pace upwind, sailing through to their opponents to leeward but were unable to make it stick and the Italians were rescued by the boundary which forced the boats to tack and put Luna Rossa directly in front of the Kiwis and preventing them rolling through. ETNZ would round the top mark 9 seconds back.

Again on the downwind, ETNZ showed VMG numbers well higher than Luna Rossa but the Italian crew was doing a magnificent job of holding them at bay and keeping the Kiwis in their wing wash and unable to pass without doing a lot of extra manoeuvres. Big gains came to ETNZ at the bottom of the course, getting a split course for the next leg and rounding the mark just 3 seconds back. When the boats converged at the first cross after the bottom mark, ETNZ crossed barely a boatlength behind. Luna Rossa had to let them go by without a covering tack as ETNZ was so close that they wouldn’t be able to accelerate in time and the Kiwis would have passed them.

If yesterdays sailing was exciting, today’s lifted the bar again. A long range tacking duel ensued in the top half of this beat, with the boats bouncing off their respective boundaries and then coming back to meet in the middle of the course, only separated by a boat length or so before they headed back to their boundary. ETNZ would get the better of this exchange and made some good gains at the last tack, crossing ahead of Luna Rossa and eventually rounding the mark 18 behind. Spithill and Bruni went for the gybe straight after the mark and the Kiwi boat followed them with a loose cover.

The Kiwi lead would stretch out to around 500m on the final leg, eventually crossing the line 30 seconds ahead and go to match point in this 36th America’s Cup. The next race is do or die for Luna Rossa.


Further racing was prevented from getting underway by fickle and shifting winds this evening. Racing will resume tomorrow at 16:15.

Related Articles

America's Cup: 5th anniversary of the Bermuda win
Fifth anniversary of Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's America's Cup win Today, June 27 in New Zealand, or June 26 in Bermuda, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron created sailing history to become the first club to regain the America's Cup, after Emirates Team New Zealand sailed to victory in Race 9. Posted on 26 Jun
Letter from the Antipodes: Smiles and frowns
ETNZ's sailors getting a paddy whacking in the SailGP is the best thing to happen for their Cup Chicago came up very well as a venue offering a spectacular city backdrop; thousands of exuberant fans gathered at the finish on Day 1; good and varied sailing conditions; some opportunity for recovery from a poor start or Mark 1 rounding. Posted on 23 Jun
America's Cup: 'Light on Water' - free event
Book now for Geoff Dale's 'Light on the Water' exhibition and conversation with Peter Montgomery Experience Geoff Dale's remarkable Light on the Water photography exhibition from the 2021 America's Cup before settling as he chats with legendary sports broadcaster, Peter Montgomery. Posted on 21 Jun
America's Cup: Join the Spy Game
The America's Cup spy game has been reinvented. Here's your opportunity to be part of it. Teams using spies armed with long lenses to get an insight into what design direction competitors are heading in, are a common sight. For the 37th America's Cup, the spy game has been reinvented. Here's your opportunity to be part of it. Posted on 14 Jun
America's Cup: Seeking Swiss precision
Magnus Wheatley reports from last week's Alinghi crew and design team announcement Last week, Alinghi Red Bull Racing Team opened the doors of its Switzerland headquarters to the world to present both its sailing and design teams after a rigorous selection process. Magnus Wheatley reports from Ecublens. Posted on 13 Jun
America's Cup family stunned at sudden death
Francesco Longanesi Cattani the External Relations Director for Prada and Luna Rossa dies suddenly. Francesco Longanesi Cattani the long serving CEO Representative of COR 36 and Title Sponsor Liaison in the 36th America's Cup, died suddenly on Friday in the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, after suffering a stroke. Posted on 13 Jun
Leigh McMillan signs on for a third America's Cup
It was a very quick decision for Leigh McMillan to re-sign with INEOS Britannia, Having grown up on the Isle of Wight, Leigh McMillan knows a few things about the America's Cup and it was a very quick decision to re-sign with INEOS Britannia, for his third consecutive America's Cup with the British Challenger. Posted on 10 Jun
America's Cup: Swiss name sailing and design teams
Fourteen sailors have been selected to join the Alinghi Red Bull Racing crew Fourteen sailors have been selected to join the Alinghi Red Bull Racing crew and represent the Société Nautique de Genève during the 37th America's Cup. Posted on 8 Jun
Letter from the Antipodes: Paradise lost for Kiwis
Reasons other than financial, are emerging as to why the regatta was not staged in Auckland. Piece by piece, more information is coming out about the 2024 America's Cup hosting in Barcelona. Reasons other than financial, are emerging as to why the regatta was not staged in Auckland. Posted on 3 Jun
Emirates Team New Zealand set to sail in Australia
Emirates Team NZ's next challenge will be to break one of the most difficult records in sailing After dominating on the water For the past 35 years, Emirates Team NZ's next challenge will be ashore, conducted in Australia, and aimed at breaking one of the hardest records in sailing. Posted on 25 May
McConaghy 2022 - MC63p & MC75 FOOTERC-Tech 2021 SnuffAir 728x90 BOTTOMMarine Resources 2022 - FOOTER