AC34: Oracle vs. ENTZ
While this reality bath was no doubt a chilly and prolonged one for Luna Rossa, the team still looked focused and serious on Saturday as the boats entered the starting area for Race Seven, sailing in more air than any other LVC Finals Race. According to reports, the average windspeed was 18 knots with max gusts exceeding 21 knots. ETNZ again managed to start to windward and slightly ahead of Luna Rossa, and again Barker and crew worked to create a lead, which they coaxed to four seconds by the first mark. By the third mark the Kiwis were in absolute control of the game, rounding this mark one minute and 53 seconds ahead of Luna Rossa. Impressively, ETNZ also clocked a new course top-speed record of a jaw-dropping 47.18 knots (54 mph!) at the third mark—substantially improving on their previous high-tide mark of 44.15 knots—before then winning the race by a Delta of one minute and 58 seconds.
Emirates Team New Zealand sails against Luna Rossa on Day 7 of the LVC Final. © ACEA / PHOTO GILLES MARTIN-RAGET
“We’ve hit those speeds before. We’re getting used to it,” said Adam Beashel, ETNZ’s bowman, referring to the team’s new course record. “It’s a shame we didn’t hit 50. It’d be nice to be the first [team] to do that. We’ll keep pressing on and get that before this event’s over. We’ve gone close in practice, so hopefully we’ll crack it.”
Talk to team boss Grant Dalton or other top brass at ETNZ, however, and winning the America’s Cup weighs higher on the “To Do” list than clipping 50 knots, and the team took a significant step towards that goal on Sunday when they beat Luna Rossa in Race Eight to win the Louis Vuitton Cup.
Unlike other days on the Bay that delivered too much wind for the tender AC72 class catamarans, Sunday’s race featured thick fog and lighter-than-average winds (13 knots at the start) that made for some heady tactics. ETNZ commanded a strong lead of 16 seconds at the first mark, which they stretched out to two minutes and 58 seconds by the third mark and a whopping three minutes and 20 seconds (ages in AC72 parlance, given their staggering straight-line speeds) by the time Luna Rossa concluded racing.
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