On Thursday, the teams had a final day of preparation and afterguard members Terry HUTCHINSON (USA), of ETNZ, and Luna Rossa's Andy HORTON (USA) met the media at the opening press conference. Luna Rossa Challenge won the coin toss, and will start Friday's race as the 'yellow' boat with starboard tack entry to the start box. The teams will alternate starboard entry each successive race.
'Our team is feeling pretty good. We've had four or five days off in the last week and a half,' said Luna Rossa's HORTON. 'We've kept our training in-house and we've had some good practice, some good starts and races…working on some of things we learned we weren't sharp enough on in the Semi Finals.'
Both teams will compete with the same boats they used in the Semi Finals. Luna Rossa Challenge will race ITA 94, and Emirates Team New Zealand will sail NZL 92.
The teams are expecting close racing. Each has a 2-2 record against the other dating back to Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 10 last May. In the Round Robins of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the teams split their two matches. The team with starboard tack entry to the start has won all four matches.
'Obviously, Luna Rossa is an excellent team with great sailors throughout,' said HUTCHINSON, tactician on NZL 92. 'We have to take it one start, one beat, one leg and one race at a time and look for opportunities within the races to capitalise on subtle mistakes they might make. Those opportunities might be few and far between, so we've put a lot of emphasis on things that will ensure us the first cross and early control of the race.'
|Emirates racing with Alinghi
Luna Rossa, Emirates and the America's Cup Defender Alinghi were all on the water training on Wednesday afternoon. The two Luna Rossa Challenge boats sailed together, while Emirates Team New Zealand and Alinghi had two races against each other. Conditions were excellent with 10 to 14 knots of southeasterly sea breeze.
Alinghi and Emirates Team New Zealand started two races against each other. In each race, the pre-starts were fairly tame affairs with the Kiwis starting on the right-hand side. But even though the wind was shifting to the right, in the first contest it was Alinghi who arrived at the top mark with a lead of near 20 seconds. Downwind, they increased this lead by another 5 seconds or so to lead through the gate. Early on the second beat, both boats turned downwind, abandoning the match.
The second race was better for the Kiwis. They held a narrow advantage all the way up the windward leg, leading around the top mark by just under 10 seconds. They carried that advantage through the leeward gate although Alinghi took the right hand side and picked up a nice shift early on the second beat. When the boats converged, the Kiwis could not cross and tacked to leeward of Alinghi and at that point, both boats abandoned the match again.
Alinghi appeared to be able to sail higher, pointing better than Emirates Team New Zealand. The Swiss team also appeared to have plenty of speed. Crew work was smoother on the battle-hardened Kiwi squad; Alinghi had a poor spinnaker drop and a couple of pretty average gybes over the course of the afternoon.
Neither team would confirm which boat they were using for these training matches. Ed BAIRD (USA) was the helmsman on Alinghi.
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.For a complete list of all the news about the America's Cup 2007 CLICK HERE.