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Emirates Team New Zealand crosses the finish line in Race 7 to become the Challenger for the 35th America's Cup Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz
Emirates Team New Zealand crosses the finish line in Race 7 to become the Challenger for the 35th America's Cup Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

Emirates Team New Zealand ~ America’s Cup

To the surprise of few and the relief of many – particularly in the Kiwi nation, Emirates Team New Zealand put away Artemis Racing in the final of the Louis Vuitton Trophy to become the Challenger for the 35th America’s Cup.

The Kiwis showed their light weather pace with racing getting away at the second attempt in a southerly breeze of around 8kts.

This was the lightest breeze of the series, and in fact the whole Louis Vuitton regatta, and the question was at last going to be answered as to whether the Kiwis really did have their much vaunted speed edge in the conditions which are predicted for the America’s Cup Match.

The short answer is ‘Yes’.

But that was not the case in the first attempt at getting a race underway on the Great Sound on the scheduled start time of 2.12pm and in a breeze that had been pipping up to 15kts in the build up to the start.

For a time it looked as if the Kiwis would be in difficulty with the wrong set of boards on again.

However the winds eased back to a more accommodating 8kts as the starting gun fired.

Emirates Team New Zealand’s Peter Burling won the start and was first to Mark 1 and led at Mark 2 by 16 seconds.

But on the third beat it all started to fall apart for the New Zealanders as the wind died, and they were unable to foil, suddenly looking very sticky.

Artemis Racing was able to keep foiling and the big disparity in speed enabled Nathan Outteridge to close the gap on his long time 49er competitor and training partner.

An altercation as they approached the windward mark, resulted in the Swedes being handed another penalty, and although they were sailing noticeably faster than the New Zealanders had to drop back on their line to clear the penalty.

Then the wind dropped further and we saw Race Director Iain Murray’s comment played out – the AC50 is a dog that won’t hunt in winds below 6kts. It is impossible for them to generate enough speed to sail directly downwind. Fortunately there is a 10 minute time limit on a downwind leg, and once this had been exceeded, the race was abandoned and the wind dropped completely.

After a wait of 90 minutes, Race 7 got underway again in similar conditions to the first attempt, and right on the time limit for racing – which has to finish by 5.00pm.

Emirates Team New Zealand won the start, their second of the day, and again led at Mark 1.

There was no catching the Kiwis and the margin steadily increased up hill and down dale with the winning margin being recorded at 56 secs.

That result gave Emirates Team New Zealand their fifth win in the best of nine series and they go forward to be the Challenger for the 35th America’s Cup – the third time in the 30 year histor of New Zealand’s America’s Cup competition that they have been the Challenger in the Match, which begins on Saturday June 17 on the Great Sound in Bermuda.

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World.com

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