2-1 to Emirates Team New Zealand
Further technical issues on board Luna Rossa scuppered proceedings in Race three of the Louis Vuitton Cup Final, enabling Emirates Team New Zealand to go 2-1 up against its Italian opponent in this first to seven bout.
Much attention has been paid to the starting by Luna Rossa's British helmsman Chris Draper. In race two the Italian team had been behind the Kiwis and sped into position to leeward only for their opponents to pull the trigger more effectively leading them into the reaching mark. Today Draper tried a different tactic, holding back but then diving to weather of the Kiwis. The Italians had enough pace on to prevent the Kiwis hooking them and for the first time in this Louis Vuitton Cup we saw the Italian boat hitting the line ahead of the Kiwis while also going faster. However it was not fast enough and Emirates Team New Zealand was able to maintain the inside berth into the mark.
From there Emirates Team New Zealand slowly extended away, Luna Rossa matching the Kiwis for pace downwind but not for angle, the Kiwis constantly able to sail deeper due. Unfortunately early into the first beat on leg three, there was an ominous 'bang' on board the Luna Rossa AC72 as a sheave broke on the bottom control arm on the wing, believed to be for the camber control. This could not be repaired and Emirates Team New Zealand went on to claim the point, going 2-1 up.
The third breakdown among the two challengers in as many days came with disappointment because Race 3 began with great competition.
“We discussed that leading back (to the start line) would be strong with the tight reach. We executed our plan,” said Draper.
Barker added: “It felt like we had an opportunity to hook Luna Rossa and just didn’t quite pull it off,. That put us in a tough spot. I could’ve done a better job in the final 20 to 30 seconds.”
En route to the first reaching mark, the two AC72s were foiling neck and neck at 34 to 38 knots and separated by less than a boatlength, but Luna Rossa briefly came off her foils just before the turning mark allowing Emirates Team New Zealand to sneak through to leeward.
“I thought we were going to roll over them on that reach, but we had one little crash after the start,” said Draper. “If you get hit by a lull at the same time the rake (of the daggerboards) is slightly wrong, it can stop the boat quite suddenly.”
“It was a good start today, those guys are not novices,” said Barker. “They do just fine in the AC45s so they know what they want to do. Up to now their boathandling may have been an issue, but they’re getting more confident in the boat and they’re not afraid to stick it in there, which is great.”
Of today's breakage, Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena said: “Unfortunately, we had an issue with the line controlling the twist profile of the wing and couldn’t keep sailing. The line comes down to the base of the wing and wraps around sheaves. The sheaves moved and caused the problem with the tension of the control line. Fortunately it’s a quick fix, but unfortunately it stopped us racing.”
Draper added: “Our reaching speeds are better, we believe we can beat these guys around the racecourse, and that’s a heck of an improvement since the round robins.”
With the wind blowing in excess of the 19.4-knot limit set for the day’s second race, was postponed until Wednedsay.
Tomorrow is an off day for the two crews, who’ll no doubt spend the day carrying out maintenance to the yachts and their bodies. As Principal Race Officer John Craig noted this morning, the racing program is taking a toll. “I think two races a day are pushing the sailors more than the boats. The physical nature of what the teams are going through; it’s a tough two races per day. I’m optimistic that with the better currents coming with the flood tide and moving into September, which is typically a lighter breeze month, we’ll see the teams work through these bugs that they’re encountering right now.”