Racing was postponed for a short time to allow the light sea breeze to stabilise and settle. The fifth race of the Louis Vuitton Cup Final began in an 8 knot southeasterly, with hundreds of spectator boats out to see Emirates Team New Zealand claim the Louis Vuitton Cup.
The Kiwi team returned to Port America's Cup to a heroes welcome, settling in for the prize giving ceremony where the coveted Louis Vuitton Cup trophy was to be presented to a triumphant Emirates Team New Zealand.
It was Emirates Team New Zealand's turn to enter the left-hand side of the start box and Dean BARKER (NZL) steered up into an early dial-up against Luna Rossa. There was a bit of separation between the boats and BARKER pulled off a daring move to bear away on port underneath the Italian boat. James SPITHILL (AUS) could not respond in time and BARKER won the right of the start box.
However, at start time, with New Zealand controlling the lead into the line, they chose the left side of the start with Italy starting on the right. It was an even start, but soon Luna Rossa tacked away, New Zealand following to shadow their move. There was nothing to choose for speed between the boats as they sailed nearly all the way out to the starboard layline.
Eventually the Italians tacked and it looked like they might be able to seize control of the Kiwis. However ITA 94 could not live in the backwash of disturbed air from the Kiwi rig and the Italians tacked away again. They tried a couple of extra tacks against New Zealand but by now, time was running out as BARKER carried the fight beyond the starboard layline.
|Emirates Team New Zealand
will face Alinghi for the 32nd
© Gilles Martin-Raget
The Italians tried a more aggressive approach to the second beat, initiating a tacking duel against the Kiwis. It was working, Luna Rossa reducing the gap to just a boatlength at one point, but New Zealand always controlling the game. At the top mark it was yet another 20-second delta, and with time running out the Italians tried to find something better on the left of the course, gybing away early.
It worked, as the Italians closed the game down and got to within a boatlength of the Kiwis at one point. The aggressive tactics were paying off, but time was running out and the New Zealanders held their nerve to win the match by 22 seconds, and sweep the Louis Vuitton Cup Final 5-0.
Following victory in the Louis Vuitton Cup, Emirates Team New Zealand have won the right to challenge the Defender Alinghi in the 32nd America's Cup Match. The first race is scheduled for 23 June.
Reviewing the progress of the Challenger, Alinghi team skipper, Brad BUTTERWORTH (NZL), said, 'Emirates Team New Zealand just sailed well all the way through. They won the round robins; they picked Spain, probably the weakest team out of the four, and lost a couple of races but Spain had a very good boat and did a great job. They wound up sailing Luna Rossa and at this stage of the game little deficiencies in the programme are exposed in a big way. I think Luna Rossa has a problem in the lighter air and Emirates Team New Zealand just consolidated on that and sailed away.'
Looking ahead, he added, 'They have had the benefit of the Louis Vuitton series to get their game bigger and better so they are a force to be reckoned with. Obviously they are on top of their game especially winning 5-0, it's is a fantastic achievement so good on them.'
Louis Vuitton Cup - Final
|Luna Rossa Challenge||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Emirates Team New Zealand||1||1||1||1||1||5|
The America's Cup Match and Challenger/Defender Series are designated as ISAF Special Events. For more information on the America's Cup, the Louis Vuttion Acts and the teams competing, visit the official America's Cup website - www.americascup.com.
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