Louis Vuitton Cup: The Final Challenger Round

The final knockout round to select a challenger for America's Cup 32 is well under way, with Emirates Team New Zealand up 2-0 over Luna Rossa. First to win five races will advance to race the defender, Alinghi. For daily coverage, see our Got Live blog, linked from the home page. Since the America's Cup first left the shores of the USA in 1983, there have been four contests in foreign countries–including this 32nd defense in Spain–and this will be the first time ever that a challenger final round has not included an American boat.


In a way, this is a replay of the 2000 America's Cup in Auckland, where Prada was the challenger and Team New Zealand was the defender. Except that here we have Luna Rossa (the Prada challenge seven years on) and Team New Zealand on equal footing, competing for the right to challenge. They met twice in 2007 in round robin racing and split the points. Each boat won a race.

The Kiwis are still smarting from their loss in 2003. Their mighty machine, Team New Zealand, was humiliated by a Swiss-flagged opponent sailed by Russell Coutts and his core Kiwi crew that had won the America's Cup in San Diego in 1995 and defended in 2000 before being lured away. New Zealand has scores to settle. If not to win, it is here to lose proudly and exact a price, to wipe away some of the sting of 2003.

Luna Rossa came to town as one of three challengers from Italy, the only country to field more than one boat. Team boss Patrizio Bertelli is the man credited with building Prada into a powerhouse fashion brand. Having won through to the role of challenger in 2000, he came back with a major, high-stakes effort in 2003, only to lose out in the semifinals.

These things are complicated, and the other guy's boat development is always a moving target.

First there were eleven. Then there was the final four. Then Luna Rossa defeated BMW Oracle, 5-1, and

Soon there will be one. One challenger. Then the America's Cup match, where there is no second, no hay segundo.

The Louis Vuitton Cup was created as a prize for the top boat in the challenger eliminations and first awarded in 1983 to the winner of the challenger trials in Newport, Rhode Island, to Australia II. That was the boat that would go on to break the 132-year hold of the New York Yacht Club on the America's Cup itself. In six editions to date of the Louis Vuitton Cup, four winners have gone on to capture the America's Cup.


Luna Rossa

Yacht Club Italiano

Head of Team: Patrizio Bertelli

Skipper: Francesco de Angelis

Designers: Luna Rossa Design Team Bruce Nelson

Helmsman James Spithill

Charlie McKee, Francesco Bruni, Michele Ivaldi, Andrew Horton, Philippe Presti, Matteo Plazzi

ITA-86 and ITA-94


Team New Zealand

Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron

Managing Director: Grant Dalton

Team Leader: Kevin Shoebridge

Designers: Andy Claughton and ETNZ Design Team

Skipper / Helmsman: Dean Barker

Afterguard: Terry Hutchinson, Kevin Hall, Adam Beashall, Ray Davies

NZL 92 and NZL 84

The America's Cup match, first-to-five, starts June 23. Alinghi versus _____ ?

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