It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest weekend of racing, but there was plenty of drama and more than a few surprises as Emirates Team New Zealand and Italy’s Luna Rossa both scored wins in the opening rounds of the Louis Vuitton Finals.
If Oracle was hoping that giving up its wins in last year’s America’s Cup World Series would put the controversy surrounding the team’s illegally modified AC45s to rest, they must be seriously disappointed.
Despite a truly heroic effort to get their boat out onto the racecourse following the fatal capsize of hull No. 1, time was against Team Artemis from the outset, and they were unable to upset the more experienced Italians.
The good news is that at least a bit of a real race took place on Tuesday, with a dramatic start and an actual lead change on the second leg. The bad news is that while their boat appears sound, team Artemis has a long way to go if it’s to defeat Luna Rossa in the Louis Vuitton semi-final round.
This past Sunday, Emirates Team New Zealand 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.
On the boat’s maiden sail, Artemis Racing got hull #2, “Big Blue,” up on its foils in winds as strong as 15 knots—a dramatic statement from the team that has been in crisis mode ever since the May 9 capsize of its first boat took the life of strategist Andrew “Bart” Simpson.
Not only did ETNZ once again lead from wire to wire, the team managed to cross the finish line more than 2 minutes ahead of the Italians, despite losing their jib just before the race’s midpoint after a halyard shackle failed.
What was supposed to have been a waterborne extravaganza celebrating all things AC, instead resulted in a single AC 72—Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ)—sailing what was essentially an uncontested practice race on Sunday for points.