Emirates Team New Zealand wins round robin
Emirates Team New Zealand has won the Round Robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup after roundly dispatching Luna Rossa in today opening round of Round Robin four. Today's race took place under cloudy skies, in 15 knots of wind, gusting up to 22, from the southwest and a flat sea, thanks to the ebb tide.
The Kiwi team completed today’s 15.43 mile course in 46 minutes, 53 seconds but finished more than 7 minutes ahead of their Italian rivals, who as a result scored a DNF for failing to finish within the five minute time limit. The Kiwi's average speed was 24.41 knots today, recording a top speed of 41.16 knots.
Today’s crew on Emirates Team New Zealand were Dean Barker (helm/skipper), Ray Davies (Tactician), Glenn Ashby (wing Trimmer), Chris Ward (Grinder), Rob Waddell (Grinder), Derek Saward (Floater/grinder), James Dagg (Trimmer), Winston McFarlane (Grinder), Chris McAsey (Grinder), Jeremy Lomas (Pit), Adam Beashel (Bow).
On Luna Rossa were Max Sirena (skipper and pitman), Francesco Bruni (tactician), David Carr (pitman/grinder), Pierluigi de Felice (trimmer), Wade Morgan (primary grinder), Chris Draper (helmsman), Xabi Fernandez (wing trimmer), Nick Hutton (bowman), Lele Marino (wing grinder), Manuel Modena (freestyler), Giles Scott (hydraulic grinder).
On seven points to Luna Rossa's three and with three races remaining in the challengers’ series, Emirates Team New Zealand can no longer be beaten and have earned the right to advance straight to the Louis Vuitton Cup Final or choose their opponent for the semi-final round.
As yet, the team hasn’t announced its intention other than to say that it plans to sail its next scheduled races on Saturday and Sunday.
“In general, today there were no glaring mistakes, but we know we can keep doing better,” said Barker. “We go out there to race as hard as we can every time. It’s not a case of getting in front and cruising. The level we’re trying to achieve is still well above where we are now. There are a lot of improvements we can do to the boat with systems and management.”
In today's marginally lighter conditions the Italians were badly off the pace. Grinder Giles Scott said that the crew was disappointed with the effort: “We’ve got an awful lot to work on. Although the delta still seems substantial, we’re moving forward and things are getting better. But clearly we’ve got a lot to do to get to where we need to be. We can’t hide from the fact that, at the moment, that the Kiwis are the class act.”
Luna Rossa suffered a pre-race mishap when the team’s AC72 was launched in low tide. The port side rudder hit the bottom and had to be removed and repaired before the team left the dock. Scott explained: “We dropped the rudder out, brought it to shore and the boatbuilders tickled it up. Then the divers stuck it back in before we left the dock. It’s never ideal, but what it harmed was our preparation time. The boat was 100% at start time.”
Today’s race was over in the pre-start. With the starboard entry advantage Barker was able to position the New Zealand team's Aotearoa in front of Luna Rossa, which put the Italians in a tough spot. Both teams were late to the start, but the Kiwis had the advantage of position and entered the race course 15 seconds ahead of the Italians.
“We had a nice entry and they were a little late, so we ended up close on their stern after the gybe,” Barker said. “When you end up in that position, a strong position, it’s a case of making sure we end up late. We don’t care how late we are, just as long as we’re pushing them back. We probably could’ve gone harder at the line a bit earlier, but we wanted to make sure we put them in a tough spot.”
At the downwind gate Luna Rossa rounded with 1 minute and 2 seconds delay. On the first beat the New Zealanders, at ease also in light conditions, sailed faster than the Italian team and rounded the windward gate 3 minutes and 29 seconds ahead.
On the second downwind leg Luna Rossa attempted to recover the distance by choosing the left side of the course, but was unable to close the gap and rounded the downwind mark 4 minutes and 2 seconds behind. From that point, up to the arrival, the Kiwis increased their lead and crossed the finish line 7 minutes and 14 seconds ahead.
Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena stated: “It was disappointing to see how fast the Kiwis are even in lighter wind conditions. We now look forward to testing our new daggerboards in order to reduce the gap and be competitive in the coming races. We remain focused on our objective.”
Emirates Team New Zealand’s next race is on Saturday, when they’re scheduled to race Artemis Racing. Luna Rossa Challenge is scheduled to race again Thursday against Artemis Racing. Having just launched their second boat Artemis Racing is expected to be a no-show at both of these. Their first race won't be until the Louis Vuitton Cup semi-finals, due to start on 6 August. The Kiwis and Italians will race again on Sunday.
1. Emirates Team New Zealand 7-0 – 7 points (3 races remaining)
2. Luna Rossa Challenge 3-4 – 3 points (3 races remaining)
3. Artemis Racing 0-6 – 0 points (4 races remaining)