The winner of the America’s Cup Challenger Series advances to meet defender ORACLE TEAM USA in the 34th America’s Cup Match next month.
A beautiful day on San Francisco Bay saw winds between 12 and 17 knots and plentiful sunshine. Both races started as scheduled and both crews completed the course without incident. Luna Rossa had some shining moments, particularly in the second race, but Emirates Team New Zealand appears too fast.
“We had a solid day all around. The guys sailed really well. We’re really happy with how the boat’s going in these conditions,” said Emirates Team New Zealand tactician Ray Davies.
In the second race, Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand had a near even start, with Luna Rossa to windward. The Italian crew was seconds away from getting to the first mark in the lead, but then the Kiwi crew popped up onto their foils and led by 3 seconds around the mark.
The Kiwis extended the lead to 18 seconds on the ensuing run, but Luna Rossa had the better approach to the leeward gate, rounding on starboard and heading into shore. Emirates Team New Zealand lost most of its advantage when it rounded on port and then had to tack to starboard to cover.
“They did a nice job of jibing at the moment they did on the run to create a split,” said Davies. “We had a moment we could’ve taken that lane off them, but decided to go for left gate with an early tack around the mark, and covered them hard from there.”
The two crews traded seven tacks on the 3-nautical-mile beat in true match racing fashion.
“We played well to take the right gate at the bottom,” said Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena. “Checco (tactician Francesco Bruni) did a good job in the first part of the upwind leg, but then it was a match race, the other boat puts you in dirty air and forces you to do the opposite of what he’s doing.”
In the first race of the day Luna Rossa appeared to be well positioned for a nice start. Helmsman Chris Draper was to leeward of the Kiwi and seemingly holding them off. But Kiwi skipper Dean Barker sailed over the bows of the Italian AC72 and sped away onto the racecourse while Luna Rossa was stalled on the line.
Emirates Team New Zealand sailed away from the Italians for a 2:17 victory.
“The start was a big part of it, but not all of it,” said Bruni. “Upwind we tried to use the cone (the tidal shelter of Alcatraz Island), but that wasn’t a good idea. We made some mistakes, not good jibes, and can do much better. I think a lot of it is due to windspeed. I’m sure we can be more competitive when the breeze is above 15 knots, we like 15 to 18 knots of windspeed.”
Emirates Team New Zealand won the previous Louis Vuitton Cup in 2007 against Luna Rossa Challenge, in a 5-0 sweep. The Kiwis won’t be sweeping this series, but need three more victories to book a date against ORACLE TEAM USA.
“The positive is that we improve more and more every day, but I’m starting to get upset because it would be great to have another four or five months,” said Sirena. “We’re not that far from these guys, but the Cup is in a couple of weeks.”
“We’re stoked to come away with a couple of wins,” said Davies. “The Italians have picked up their game. They had a close second race, it was proper match racing – covering and protecting a side of course. We’ll have another day ashore tomorrow, but there’s still plenty more performance to get out of this boat.”
Louis Vuitton Cup Final Standings (first to 7 points wins)
- Emirates Team New Zealand – 4
- Luna Rossa Challenge – 1
Race 5 Performance Data
Course: 5 Legs/10.18 nautical miles
Elapsed Time: ETNZ – 24:26, LR – 25:54
Delta: ETNZ +1:28
Total distance sailed: ETNZ – 11.5 NM , LR – 11.7 NM
Average Speed: ETNZ – 28.44 knots (33 mph), LR – 27.29 knots (31 mph)
Top Speed: ETNZ – 43.77 knots (50 mph), LR – 39.23 knots (45 mph)
Photo Credit : ACEA / GILLES MARTIN-RAGET
– PR –