It will have been a discouraging day for Luna Rossa as helmsman James SPITHILL (AUS) appeared to win the start cleanly, starting 4 seconds ahead of the New Zealand boat, near the pin end of the line. The Emirates squad started to the right, late and slow, but soon picked up a nice finger of pressure to turn a 20 metre deficit into a 40 metre advantage. The Kiwis built on that lead the rest of the way.
Light sea breeze conditions under sunny skies were the order of the day, with an 8 to 10 knot southeasterly caressing the race course off Port America's Cup. A generous spectator fleet was on hand to witness the racing.
With the victory, Emirates Team New Zealand heads into Monday's 'off' day with a 3-0 lead. Racing is scheduled to resume with a 15:00 start time on Tuesday.
With Luna Rossa holding the advantage of the right-hand entry into the start box, SPITHILL drove Dean BARKER (NZL) into a dial-up. Both boats luffed high into the box and even beyond the start line, with things looking increasingly favourable for the Italian boat on the right. BARKER was beginning to look in trouble, but eventually he bore away deep on to starboard gybe, with SPITHILL responding with a tight turn inside.
As they re-crossed the start line both boats gybed on to port, with Italy leading back over to the Race Committee boat side of the starting line. SPITHILL probably could have inflicted further damage on the Kiwis but peeled away from his attack to focus on a perfect start from the middle of the line. The Italian boat was up to speed as the gun fired, while the Kiwis were struggling to accelerate from the committee boat end.
By the time both boats were up to speed, the Italians were a boatlength ahead, looking good, and set to take control of the match. Two minutes later, better breeze from the right had helped pull the New Zealand boat level, and a minute after that BARKER had claimed the lead. The Italians' superiority in the start had come to nothing. They kept on driving out to the left, hoping for something that could get them back ahead of their rivals but it was not coming. When they eventually tacked, the Kiwis tacked to cover and were about two boatlengths ahead.
BARKER bounced SPITHILL back out to the left in a succession of quick tacks, and the Italians found themselves out on the port tack layline with a lot of sailing still to be done up to the windward mark. Sitting in the wake of the New Zealand boat for so long, the delta at the first windward mark was up to 40 seconds.
A flurry of gybes initiated by the Italians downwind was a brave attempt to make a fight of it, but by the leeward gate the gap was up to 55 seconds. Despite the increasing distance, the New Zealand team sailed the match as tight as ever and maintained that 55 second lead around the final mark.
Some smart windspotting by the New Zealand afterguard on the last downwind leg saw BARKER almost double his lead. The boat just seemed to get faster and faster, as Emirates Team New Zealand sailed across the line 1 minute and 38 seconds in front of Luna Rossa.
After the race, Emirates Managing Director Grant DALTON (NZL) said the team was well-satisfied with their day on the water. 'We showed some good boat speed in the light, tactics were sound and the boys responded flawlessly to every attack that was thrown at them.
'They had a small advantage off the line and once we got in front we were absolutely determined to stay there. We really wanted to go three-up today…. but frankly we never thought that we would be three up after three races against Luna Rossa. It's a good position to be in.'
Louis Vuitton Cup - Final
|Luna Rossa Challenge||0||0||0||0|
|Emirates Team New Zealand||1||1||1||3|
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