With seven points needed to secure a place in the 34th America's Cup, Italy's Luna Rossa Challenge will take the points however they come. Today the Italian challenger evened the score in the Louis Vuitton Cup Final at 1-1 with a semi-walkover win against Emirates Team New Zealand.
The Kiwis were leading the race by more than 400 meters on Leg 3, upwind, when they had to slow their boatspeed to a crawl. The team had a problem with the hydraulics.
"These boats are driven by hydraulics. It's a bit of a problem when you can't tack or jibe the wing or rake the boards, the boat's pretty much crippled,"
said Kiwi skipper Dean Barker.
"The issue was with our hydraulic system. What controls that is an electronic circuitry within the boat,"
said tactician Ray Davies. "It was more the electronics side of things that shut down, which meant we had no switching of the hydraulic function. So it was an electronic issue which caused a hydraulic issue.
"But it's all fixed. We put new batteries on board and were good to go for the second race,"
said Davies. "We couldn't have fixed it on board without assistance from our chase boat."
The Kiwis were disqualified from the race when they received outside assistance from their shore crew riding in the chase boat. That allowed Luna Rossa to sail the final two legs unopposed to collect the point and even the score.
"Anything that we get is a bonus,"
said Chris Draper, Luna Rossa helmsman. "That's not the way we want to win points, but I was pleased how well we were going against those guys in the race. Our speed downwind and upwind looked a lot better than the round robins. We'll see how it plays out."
Draper and the Luna Rossa crew will get an immediate chance to test their speed again tomorrow, when Races 3 and 4 are planned to get the racing back on schedule. But Luna Rossa might have another issue to contend with overnight. Team members could be seen working on an unknown problem on the wing sail that powers Luna Rossa's AC72.
"We had a small issue on one of the ribs that keeps the shape of the Clysar,"
said skipper Max Sirena. "You don't want that but we were ready to race. It's an easy fix, not structural."
Draper said that breakdowns are a consequence of racing the AC72 at full throttle.
"It was pretty breezy on the upwind leg. We're pushing the boats and loading the wings up way harder, and that sort of stuff is making it harder on the boats,"
said Draper. "We've sailed the boat for 4 days solid now, which is tough on the shore crew and there's another day to come here. It's pretty full on for everybody keeping these boats on the water."
Barker has long said that racing the AC72 is some of the most exciting racing that he's ever done, adding that the AC72 requires a lot of attention.
"It's just the way it goes with these boats,"
said Barker. "We've been very fortunate up to now to not have a reliability issue."
Louis Vuitton Cup Final Standings (first to 7 points wins)
• Emirates Team New Zealand - 1
• Luna Rossa Challenge - 1
Upcoming Louis Vuitton Cup Final schedule (best-of-13 series)
• Monday, Aug. 19: Final Race 3 (12:10 pm PT), Final Race 4 (1:10 pm PT)
• Wednesday, Aug. 21: Final Race 5 (1:10 pm PT), Final Race 6 (2:10 pm PT)
• Saturday, Aug. 24: Final Race 7 (1:10 pm PT), Final Race 8 (2:10 pm PT)