Luna Rossa gaining confidence
With the port entry today Luna Rossa roundly dispatched Artemis Racing in the pre-start to go to match point in the semi-final round of the Louis Vuitton Cup with racing taking place on San Francisco Bay in winds of 16-18 knots, a flat sea, with the tide flooding at 1.5 knots.
On Luna Rossa today were Max Sirena (skipper and pitman), Francesco Bruni (tactician), David Carr (pitman/grinder), Pierluigi de Felice (trimmer), Giles Scott (primary grinder), Chris Draper (helmsman), Xabi Fernandez (wing trimmer), Nick Hutton (bowman), Lele Marino (wing grinder), Marco Montis (freestyler) and Wade Morgan (hydraulic grinder).
On the Artemis Racing AC72 today were Iain Percy (skipper/tactician), Nathan Outteridge (helmsman), Stu Bettany (pit), Andy Fethers (pit), Chris Brittle (grinder), Julien Cressant (grinder), Craig Monk (grinder), Sean Clarkson (grinder), Thierry Fouchier (jib trim), Iain Jensen (wing trim), Rodney Ardern (wing assist).
This week's Louis Vuitton Cup races against the hurriedly launched Swedish AC72 has seen the Italian team come into their own, especially the combination of British 49er turned multihull ace Chris Draper at the helm of the Luna Rossa AC72 and Italian tactician Francesco Bruni.
Today the Italians engaged briefly with Artemis Racing, charging in leeward with both boats on starboard tack causing the Swedish AC72 to tack away from the line. Draper then bore away and hit the line at speed with the Swedes trailing having to recover from two speed-sapping tacks, crossing 9 second later.
Luna Rossa led by 11 seconds at the first reach mark and then steadily increased her lead around the 15.53 mile course to win by 1 minute, 18 seconds ahead of Artemis Racing to go 3-0 up in this semi-final round. The Italian AC72 completed the in 47 minutes, 36 seconds, maintaining an average speed of 24.7 knots and reaching a maximum speed of 39.71 knots. Artemis Racing held an average speed of 24.0 knots and reached a maximum speed of 37.25 knots.
“Today was a great start. Chris really showed what he’s able to do,” said Luna Rossa skipper, Max Sirena. “After the start we sailed probably our best race on the water as a team, which is good because tomorrow’s going to be tough. Aretmis Racing is getting quicker and quicker every day and it’s not finished yet. We need to keep focused and race well tomorrow.”
As impressive as Luna Rossa was, Artemis Racing also raised its game. On Thursday the team spent the day working on its foiling gybes and this seemed to pay off. In the span of one day the team found a way to reduce its deficit to the Italians by 1 minute. Downwind Artemis Racing was much closer in performance to the Italians, completing most of their gybes as foiling gybes, in comparison to race 1 and 2 where none were completed. Each non-foiling gybe can cost a team 6-10 seconds. But the Swedish team is simply running out of time to figure out the intricacies of racing the AC72.
“We upped our game hugely today, but the bad news for Artemis Racing was so did Luna Rossa. They sailed excellently from start to finish,” said Artemis Racing Skipper, Iain Percy. “Now it’s sudden death tomorrow and we like that, we look forward to that pressure.”
Artemis Racing sailed today with a new daggerboard in the port hull. Percy said that the board coupled with new winglets on the rudders helped the team get foiling.
“The winglets seem to give it a little more lift when the rudders are being worked hard in the gybes, and seem to have made it a little easier pulling off the foiling gybes,” said Percy.
Luna Rossa pulled off some excellent gybes today as well, looking steady through the manoeuvres without their hulls touching the water. Above the water, the Italian team is still using Wing 1. It was hoping to step Wing 2 tonight for tomorrow’s potential series-clinching race.
“I’m really proud of how we sailed today. That’s how we want to do it,” said Chris Draper. “I think Artemis Racing has improved a lot. We know Artemis Racing is going to keep getting better, there’s too much talent in that camp, but we sailed a good race and I’m proud of that.”
Tomorrow the two boats race again for what could be the decisive race if the Italian team gets another point on the board. Draper and the Italian team will then advance to the Louis Vuitton Cup finals where they will once again line up against Emirates Team New Zealand.
Race 4 of the semifinal round is scheduled for tomorrow at 1:15 pm PT.