Louis Vuitton Cup finals tomorrow
Racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup resumes tomorrow (Saturday) which the Finals round between Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge.
The two teams previously met in the robin robin stage of this Louis Vuitton Cup which proved to be a clean sweep for the Kiwi team. Previously they have also met in the Louis Vuitton Cup Final, in Valencia, in 2007, when Emirates Team New Zealand again came out on top.
The two finalists know each other well beyond the race course. Luna Rossa purchased its design package from Emirates Team New Zealand to jump start its program after entering the 2013 America’s Cup late. The Italian AC72 is a copy of the Kiwis team's first stab at a AC72 catamaran design. The teams also spent time testing and trialing in New Zealand.
“Our boat is a first generation and the boats aesthetically look similar, but there are quite a few differences,” said Luna Rossa helmsman Chris Draper. “If we had the opportunity to redesign things then there are things we would’ve designed differently, which I imagine are the things they’ve done differently with their second boat. At the same time, there’s not another design package we would’ve chosen to share.”
Luna Rossa comes into the Final having completed a 4-0 sweep of Artemis Racing in the Semifinal round. The Italians have also now had more race practice compared to Emirates Team New Zealand which hasn’t competed since 28 July at the end of the Round Robin.
However the Kiwis haven’t been standing still. They spent a week in the boatshed carrying out maintenance and refinements, practiced for a couple of days and then returned to the shed for further refinements. They haven’t sailed a great deal, but recent practice sessions were very pleasing to skipper Dean Barker: “We set a new top speed record the other day at the end of practice. I can’t say what it is, but almost every day the boat’s going faster and faster and becoming more efficient. There are pretty good smiles coming off the boat.”
The Final series is a best-of-13, so the first to score seven points will be the winner. Two, five-leg races are planned each day, the first start scheduled at 13:10 local time and the second at 14:10. Each race will last approximately 25 minutes, and there’ll be a break of about 30 minutes between races. This same format will be used next month in the America’s Cup Final.
It will be interesting to see if Luna Rossa can win a point of the New Zealand team.
“Things are very different now compared to the round robins and semifinal,” said Barker. “There’s greater emphasis on the start and the first reach and getting out of Mark 1 in good shape. We’ve seen it hard for the guy behind to gain enough leverage to really attack. If you can get around the leeward gate ahead you have a very good chance to shut things down.”
Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena agrees. “The pre-start is important because if you arrive at the reach mark ahead you have a better chance to lead at the bottom gate. There aren’t many options from a tactical point of view. We need to have a good pre-start. We will push hard in the pre-start to be leading at the reach mark.”
Upcoming Louis Vuitton Cup Final schedule (best-of-13 series)
Saturday, Aug. 17: Final Race 1 (1:10 pm PT start time), Final Race 2 (2:10 pm PT)
Sunday, Aug. 18: Final Race 3 (1:10 pm PT), Final Race 4 (2:10 pm PT)
Wednesday, Aug. 21: Final Race 5 (1:10 pm PT), Final Race 6 (2:10 pm PT)
Saturday, Aug. 24: Final Race 7 (1:10 pm PT), Final Race 8 (2:10 pm PT)*