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Louis Vuitton Cup: More than a mile apart . . . closer but not closest    
Mon, 29 Jul 2013

In 18 knots of south-westerly breeze, Emirates Team New Zealand, steered by Dean Barker, produced another stunning performance to win her fifth round match against the Italian Luna Rossa in the Louis Vuitton Cup by 3’:21', a resounding victory. Seven days ago, the gap between them had been 2’:19'.

The two boats were a little more than a mile apart when the Kiwis crossed the finishing line off Pier 27 on a grey San Francisco day. They now lead the round robin score with nine points to the four of Luna Rossa; Artemis has yet to race and is not expected to be on the course until the semi-final round.

The start was full of excitement with Emirates Team New Zealand entering the area on port tack and crossing ahead of Luna Rossa. After a minute and a half, the two boats were close together with Barker keeping Emirates Team New Zealand to windward. It could have been a vulnerable position but the New Zealand boat had greater speed. As Luna Rossa bore off for the starting line, the Kiwis went with her and the two crossed the line almost simultaneously.

Barker used his speed edge to sail over the top of Chris Draper on Luna Rossa and rounded the first mark to begin the downwind leg with an eight second advantage. Emirates Team New Zealand went straight into a gybe, but Luna Rossa sailed on for several lengths before following suit. Executing regular gybes while foiling ensured the Emirates Team New Zealand stayed in front but only added 27 seconds to her lead.

As has regularly been the case, the Kiwi boat was measurably quicker upwind – a whole minute faster to the third mark, but added only 21 seconds on the downwind leg. It was a 54-second gain on the second beat – to a delta of 2’:50' – and the writing was firmly on the wall. Stretching away again downwind and on the reach to the finish, Emirates Team New Zealand completed the 15.27-mile course in 45’:05 and peaked at 42.76 knots to the 39.55 knots of the Italians.

by Bob Fisher

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