AC34: Oracle vs. ENTZ
Few fans of America’s Cup racing will be surprised to read that Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) beat Luna Rossa Challenge to win the Louis Vuitton Cup and earned the right to meet Oracle Team USA on the starting line of the 34th America’s Cup. What could potentially raise an eyebrow, however, was the fact that ETNZ didn’t sweep the LVC Finals 7-0 in the best-of-thirteen series, but almost all new boats suffer the errant equipment meltdown, even the iceberg-cool Kiwis. Fortunately, their small electrical-system mishap occurred early in the LVC Finals, and, once solved, it only served to extend the inevitable hatchet chop by a single race day.
The writing was all over the wall that this year’s LVC Finals would be a lopsided affair in early July, as evidenced by the Kiwi’s dominance in the LVC Round Robins (sweeping Luna Rossa in all on-the-water meetings), their far superior crew work, and their noticeably faster second-generation AC72 class catamaran. For sailing fans, however, ETNZ’s massive talent and speed surplus made for fairly boring LVC Finals racing, with all races determined by the first mark rounding.
The last three races of the LVC Finals unfurled on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a single race taking place each day. Friday’s start saw both boats cross the starting line at roughly the same time, but ETNZ skipper Dean Barker was able to use his windward position to roll his Italian rivals, arriving at the first mark some 10 seconds in the lead. This advantage stretched to one minutes and 57 seconds by the time Luna Rossa finally crossed the finishing line of Race Six.
“It would’ve been nice to have had a better start,” lamented Luna Rossa helmsman Chris Draper. “We can talk about the start as much as we want, but the cold reality is they’re going to sail past us whether they’re to windward or leeward.”
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