Emirates Team New Zealand through
Emirates Team New Zealand today won the 30th anniversary Louis Vuitton Cup with a 3:20 victory over Italy’s Luna Rossa in the eighth and deciding race, claiming the Final series 7-1.
The victory makes Emirates Team New Zealand the official challenger set to go up against the defender, Oracle Team USA for the 34th America’s Cup, racing for which starts on 7 September. Of the last six America's Cup matches the New Zealand team has been a participant either as challenger or defender in five. The Kiwis also beat Luna Rossa in the Louis Vuitton Cup final in Valencia in 2007. The Italian team won the Louis Vuitton Cup on its first attempt in 2000.
Today's one race was held in thick fog and the lightest winds so far seen in this competition with 10-13 knots from the southwest and a two knot flood tide.
Coming in on port tack, Luna Rossa was slow into the box with the tide against her and for the first time in the competition there was an old school dial up, albeit with the boats not very close nor lasting very long with the Kiwis peeling off on port and followed by Luna Rossa. In the speed build into the gun, Luna Rossa was slow and allowed the Kiwis cheekily to cross ahead of them to take up the up-tide windward position on the line. From there the kiwis were up and away and led into the reaching mark already 16 seconds ahead of their opponent. Game over. Emirates Team New Zealand extended to 1:31 at Mark 2, 2:58 at Mark 3, and 3:18 at Mark 4 and 3:20 at the finish line
In a first in this Louis Vuitton Cup with the wind speed down, both boats were flying Code Zeros - both hoisted these furled prior to the start, only deploying them on the first downwind leg. With the wind having built to 15 knots for the second run, they didn't hoist them.
The fog was so thick that the navigators had to rely on their instruments to locate the leeward gate. In the lighter winds the upwind leg also proved to be an issue punching the flood tide .
“To race for the America’s Cup you have to win the Louis Vuitton Cup,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker. “We’ve definitely come here to win the America’s Cup, so winning the Louis Vuitton Cup is all part of the preparation. The guys are extremely focused. We came short in Valencia in 2007 and we’ll give it our all now in the next few weeks to make sure we’re as ready as can be.”
Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena commented on the Italian team's effort: “Again Team New Zealand did a great job. They managed the pre-start and the race well, good job to them. They are a really strong team and I’m looking forward to seeing them racing in the match. We started this team late and the main goal for us was to do well in this Louis Vuitton Cup. We are proud of what we achieved. No one was putting us in the Louis Vuitton Cup Final one and a half years ago. I’m proud of all the work done by the team. I said to the guys just before the finish that today starts the new challenge for the next America’s Cup. We’re going to be stronger next time.”
Luna Rossa was perpetually on the backfoot throughout this Louis Vuitton Cup. While they were more prepared and had had longer in their boat than the unfortunate Artemis Racing, which they raced without losing a point in the Semi-Final round, against the polished Kiwi team they only claimed one point in the entire competition and that was due to a breakdown by their opponents. Their fate wasn't so much about crew work, but more that they were racing Emirates Team New Zealand's second generation AC72 in a sistership to the Kiwi team's first generation boat. This being the first (and probably the last) iteration of the radical new 72ft long foiling catamarans, this technological difference was significant and in every race over the last few weeks Luna Rossa has constantly sailed further around the race track (in particular they seemed unable to sail as deep as the Kiwis) at a speed that typically 1-2 knots slower than the New Zealanders.
Nonetheless, given that the team was late to the game and presumably spent a fraction of what Artemis Racing did on its campaign, the Italian team has a lot of which they can be proud. Skipper Max Sirena commented: “In one year and a half we built a young and competitive team that, with only one boat designed on a first generation project, advanced to the Louis Vuitton finals. Even if we made huge improvements during the last few months and weeks, this was not sufficient; if we had four more month to develop the boat we would have been more competitive. Congratulations to Emirates Team New Zealand for the deserved victory and we wish them the best luck for the America’s Cup.”
Patrizio Bertelli, Team Principal of Luna Rossa, added: “Since her first challenge Luna Rossa has become a model team and a benchmark in the America’s Cup. This is proved by the fact that many important people who are in other America’s Cup teams come from Luna Rossa. For the third time we have advanced to the Louis Vuitton Final and have achieved the goal we set ourselves when we launched our challenge, one year and a half after the other teams. I want to thank every single team member for the job and the efforts they have put in this campaign. Now we are focused on the future.”
Luna Rossa has announced it will sail with the Kiwi team in the final build-up towards the America’s Cup, helping Dean Barker and the sailing crew test modifications that will be made this week.
The first race for the America's Cup is on 7 September, but before that there is the Red Bull Youth America's Cup.
Louis Vuitton Cup Final Standings
Emirates Team New Zealand – 7
Luna Rossa Challenge – 1
Race 8 Performance Data
Course: 5 Legs/10.26 nautical miles
Elapsed Time: ETNZ – 33:49, LR – 37:09
Delta: ETNZ +3:20
Total distance sailed: ETNZ – 11.9 NM , LR – 12.3 NM
Average Speed: ETNZ – 21.27 knots (24 mph), LR – 20.04 knots (23 mph)
Top Speed: ETNZ – 41.19 knots (47 mph), LR – 38.73 knots (44 mph)
America’s Cup Schedule (best-of-17 series)