If there was ever any doubt that Emirates Team New Zealand was the team to beat, those doubts were put to rest this past weekend in the second matchup between the Kiwis and their erstwhile training partner, Luna Rossa.
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.
In fact, ETNZ hardly seemed affected by the loss of the sail, once the crew was able to cut it loose after a 3-minute struggle. According to skipper Dean Barker, the boat didn’t gybe as well sailing under wing sail alone, but you’d hardly have known it to see them.
“It’s one of those frustrating, annoying things,” said Barker. “We’ve never ever had an issue with the attachment of the jib before, but as is normal, when you start racing things like this happen. The encouraging thing is the guys did a very good job to address the situation and deal with it. The way the guys responded and settled into it was good.”
Overall it took the Kiwis just under over 48 minutes to complete the seven-leg, 15.43-mile race, during which their top speed was 38.72 knots. Winds for the race averaged around 14 knots, with gusts just over 20.
Since that time, the Kiwi’s have logged yet another victory over Luna Rossa, in the process securing first overall in the round robin portion of the Louis Vuitton challenger series. In their third meeting, which took place on Tuesday, it was once again no contest, with the Italians giving away the start because of bad tactics and then falling farther and farther behind with every leg.
By the time it was over, the delta was over 7 minutes. In fact, Luna Rossa technically didn’t even finish, since the boats are required to do so within 5 minutes of each other. The only good news for Luna Rossa, which has earned 3 points in the series for those times it has sailed the course unchallenged, is that they look sloppy enough that if they can clean up their act even a little, they should be able to make big gains.
In winning the round robin, ETNZ has earned the right to either advance straight to the Louis Vuitton Cup Final or choose their opponent for the semifinal round. The team has yet to announce its intentions other than to say that it plans to sail its next scheduled races this Saturday and Sunday.
Meanwhile, over in the Artemis camp, after weeks of delay, the team finally launched its second boat on Monday. However, it will still be some time before the team is ready to compete.
To see Sunday’s race in its entirety, click here.