Team New Zealand elects to advance to LVC Final
Emirates Team New Zealand today won its ninth consecutive race of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, cementing its status as the top team in the challengers’ series.
Later in the day skipper Dean Barker announced his team would exercise its right to advance to the Louis Vuitton Cup Final, scheduled to begin Aug. 17. Emirates Team New Zealand earned that right by winning the round robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup.
Emirates Team New Zealand will race either Artemis Racing or Luna Rossa Challenge. Those two teams will race the Louis Vuitton Cup Semifinal, scheduled Aug. 6-15.
Barker said the team considered racing the semifinals, but in the end opted to advance development program of Aotearoa, the team’s AC72.
“We thought hard about doing the semifinals to get more racing and more starting, to get more race time under our belts,” Barker said. “But we also have a fairly large amount of work to do to our boat, a lot of changes and modifications intended to improve the performance.
“That takes time, so we will take the next period to make changes and we look forward to lining up against whoever we will race in the Louis Vuitton Cup Final,” Barker said.
Barker said his team has informed Artemis Racing that it won’t be on the start line for their scheduled match on Tuesday, but it’s unlikely Artemis Racing would participate. Artemis Racing skipper Iain Percy said his team is still targeting the Aug. 6 start of the semifinals for their first live race.
“We’ve had great support from all of the teams, and it’s nice to see the camaraderie from everyone,” said Percy. “But in terms of racing before the semis, that might be one step too far. You never say never, but one thing that’s important to us is to keep our focus on safety. We suffered a horrendous accident and we need to take baby steps and progress at our own speed. It’s fantastic being on the racecourse practicing, just getting out there and seeing the boats and having a look at the start sequences is all good practice, but we don’t want to run before we can walk.”
Percy said that when Artemis Racing lines up against Luna Rossa Challenge they know they’ll be facing a team that’s well practiced. Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena expects to be racing a competitor that’s been hardened through a tough period.
“We’re fully respectful of Artemis Racing; it’s full of talented guys and sailors,” Sirena said. “In their first day of sailing they were able to foil and do way more than what we did on Day 1 with our AC72. We need to appreciate the effort they’ve put in the past few months, I’m pretty sure it’s been a tough period for them. It was a pleasure for us to see them sailing in the Bay.”
On the racecourse today, the Kiwis completed a sweep of Luna Rossa Challenge, their one-time training partners. With Barker back on the helm after yesterday’s breather and movie star Tom Cruise watching, the Kiwi crew grabbed the lead on the first reach leg and never looked back. The Kiwis led by 7 seconds at the first turning mark, 35 seconds at the second turning mark and 1:35 at the third turning mark en route to a 3:20 victory.
“Every time we race we come away with lessons and things we know we can do better,” said Barker.
1.Emirates Team New Zealand 9-0 – 9 points (1 race remaining)
2.Luna Rossa Challenge 4-5 – 4 points (1 race remaining)
3.Artemis Racing 0-8 – 0 points (2 races remaining)
Today’s performance data
•Course: Seven legs•Course length: 15.27 nautical miles
•Elapsed time: ETNZ – 45:05; LR – 48:26
•Total distance sailed: ETNZ – 18.29 NM; LR – 19.75 NM
•Average speed: ETNZ – 25.21 knots (29 mph); LR – 24.5 knots (28 mph)
•Top speed: ETNZ – 42.76 knots (49 mph); LR – 39.55 knots (45 mph)
•Wind speed: average 15.3 knots; peak gust 19.6 knots
Upcoming Louis Vuitton Cup schedule
•Tuesday, July 30: Artemis Racing vs. Emirates Team New Zealand (12:15 pm PT)
•Thursday, Aug. 1: Luna Rossa Challenge vs. Artemis Racing (12:15 pm PT)
•Thursday, Aug. 6: Semifinal Race 1 – Artemis Racing vs. Luna Rossa Challenge (1:15 pm PT)