America's Cup: Louis Vuitton Cup Final

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Louis Vuitton Cup Final

Emirates Team New Zealand Wins
the Louis Vuitton Cup!

 Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL-92) defeated Luna Rossa (ITA-94) 5 races to none.

ETNZ becomes the 32nd Challenger for the America's Cup and will meet the Defender, Alinghi, in the America's Cup Match beginning June 23.


Louis Vuitton Cup Final:  Best-of-nine series.  One point per win.  First team to reach five points wins the Louis Vuitton Cup and becomes the 32nd Challenger for the America's Cup.

Pts

 Team

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

0  (L) Luna Rossa 0 0 0 0 0        
5  (W) Emirates TNZ 1 1 1 1 1        

The America's Cup:  32nd Defense of yachting's most historic trophy begins June 23.  Best of nine series
 

     

Race 5


Going unbeaten against Italy's Luna Rossa, ETNZ will challenge Switzerland's Alinghi for the America's Cup.
Photo: ©2007 Stephanie Lamy

ETNZ beats Luna Rossa in Race 5 by 22 seconds, winning the LVC Final 5-0, and becoming the 32nd Challenger for the America's Cup.

Race 5 Results:  It was a close one.  Changes in LR's configuration may have helped, but whatever the reason, ITA-94 was never more than 20 seconds behind at a turning mark all race (and never less), and they closed up on NZL-92 upwind and downwind at times.  Though it was a nail-biter all the way to the finish, at the gun it was Team New Zealand to win the series!


ETNZ skipper Dean Barker onboard NZL-92 cleaning off some salt water.
 Photo:
©2007 Stephanie Lamy

Quotes:
Terry Hutchinson, Tactician, Emirates Team New Zealand:
"I am glad that is over! That was the potentially the hardest race, the hardest couple of legs we have had in a long time - you canít credit Luna Rossa enough for never going away! The game plan was to never give them an inch, and every opportunity we had was to stay between them and the mark. I think we did that, sometimes at the expense of a lossÖCredit to our guys for keeping their composure. Crossing the finish line was a very relieved moment; you canít underestimate the amount of effort that has gone into making this work."

James Spithill, Helmsman, Luna Rossa Challenge: "Itís a little surprising, I think both teams might have thought it would go the full nine races, but I think they had a week where everything went their way, they sailed extremely well and were very difficult to beat."
More Quotes at ACM

 
Luna Rossa crew waves to fans after their loss.
 Photo:
©2007 Stephanie Lamy

 

Wednesday Outlook:


ITA-94 crew after Tuesday's Race 4.  They need to dig deep against ETNZ in Wednesday's must-win contest. 
Photo: ©2007 Stephanie Lamy

The Louis Vuitton Cup is on the line today.  One win by Emirates Team New Zealand and they claim the LVC, and become the 32nd Challenger for the America's Cup.

Luna Rossa hopes to have something to say about the matter first, but even when appearing to the win the starts against ETNZ, they have been unable to secure any leads.  They have lost time to ETNZ on most legs of the series, too.  Despite making great wind calls and sailing reasonable match racing tactics in the semi-finals, LR's performance against ETNZ hasn't been effective.

The surprise of the Louis Vuitton Finals and Semi-Finals is that out of 11 races so far, the only team to beat Emirates was DesafŪo, twice.  And if BMW Oracle went down 5-1 against a team that's trailing ETNZ 4-0, how fast are the Kiwis?  Fast enough to scare Alinghi?

Today's Race 5 Outlook:

Weather: ACM: SE 5-11 knots, veering SSE late afternoon.  ETNZ: SE 8-12 knots.  RepCast: ESE becoming SE 8-12 knots.

Lighter winds still seem to be NZL-92's range more than Luna Rossa's, so aside from the 4-0 score in the series, it's not going out on a limb to think Emirates could come back to the dock today in a very celebratory mood.  If the winds are spotty enough, though, it gives opportunity to Luna Rossa to gain by find better wind instead of greater boatspeed.  With the entire challenge effort on the line, expect fairly unrestrained tactics from LR.

Another question is how aggressive does it pay ETNZ to be in the start? Since NZL-92 has shown the ability to pass, there's no need to hand LR any early advantages.  So even though they could afford to risk a penalty while maneuvering hard for a knockout blow to ITA-94, just sticking to business as usual would do just fine.

This is a big pressure race for both boats, though, and not in reference to wind, so "usual" isn't in it.  Will history be made today?


New Zealand fans showing their excitement Tuesday in "ValeNZia".  Photo: ©2007 Stephanie Lamy

 

     
     

Race 4: Tuesday June 5


Team New Zealand sails toward a 4-0 lead in the LVC Final.
Photo: ©2007 Gilles Martin-Raget/www.martin-raget.com

Emirates Team New Zealand beats Luna Rossa and leads LVC Final series 4-0

Race 4 Results:  Emirates closes in on the LV Cup with win number 4.  Despite Luna Rossa getting off to an early lead and taking the first cross, a tack to leeward at the second cross provided ETNZ with an opening to take control.  Luna Rossa trailed again at each mark and gained only on the final leg.  Finish delta was 0:52.

Race Analysis: Second Cross showdown reviewed by Thierry Peponnet on the official America's Cup web site: See Turning Point

 

 

 


NZL-92 in Race 3.
Click image to enlarge Photo: ©2007 Lyn Hines

Tuesday Outlook:
Weather:
 
RepCast: Wind E 9-12 knots.  ETNZ:  Wind E 8-13.  ACM: E 12-14 knots, decreasing late.

Will Race 4 confirm ETNZ's advantage over Luna Rossa?  ITA-94 hasn't led at one mark of the LVC Final, and has gained on only two legs, the leeward portions of Race 1, for a combined total of six seconds.  LR's back is to the wall and they should come out fighting as hard as ever, but will the Italian team turn the tables and put some points on the board?

 

     
     

Race 3: Sunday June 3


These Kiwis can fly.  And despite getting the short end of the dialup, they did just that, leaving Luna Rossa 1:38 behind in Louis Vuitton Cup Final Race 3. 
Photo: ©2007 Lyn Hines

Emirates Team New Zealand beats Luna Rossa, takes 3-0 lead in series.

Race 3 Results:
  Emirates Team New Zealand served notice.  Can you say "fast"?  The Kiwis "lost" the start and promptly sailed to the front anyway.  In Sunday's lighter and patchier air NZL-92 built leads upwind and downwind, looking untouchable against a Luna Rossa boat that just days ago was expected to be an even match.  The right wind?  The right sail?  The right side of the course?  Mojo, Ju-Ju, whatever it was, NZL-92 had it going on in Race 3.

Expert opinion is all over the map:
Thierry Peponnet pegs the critical moment as being a tack Luna Rossa didn't make:  See Turning Point

Kimball Livingston hangs the early advantage on ETNZ's moves in the dial up:  Read Got Live

Andy Rice of SailJuice says Luna Rossa isn't lucky enough while Mark Chisnell at Tack-by-Tack notes ITA-94 never looked fast enough today regardless of the breaks they did or didn't get.


Downwind wasn't any better for Luna Rossa.
Photo: ©2007 Gilles Martin-Raget/www.martin-raget.com

Quotes:
 Ray Davies, ETNZ: "We have three races and we still have to win a couple more, so we canít relax at all. These guys are more than capable of coming back and taking races off us. We didnít think we would be 3-0 up and we are expecting to lose a couple of races."

Ben Durham, Luna Rossa: "I think over the last three days ETNZ has done a better job of getting off the line, getting it up to speed well and getting the first shift. I think we can do better in all of those areas."

More quotes at ACM

 

Sunday Outlook:

Race 2 did not roll out as predicted.  A downspeed start for Luna Rossa left them out of the hunt and ETNZ eked out a few small gains in a conservative race from the first mark onward.  Not a huge margin, but there was never any reason to doubt the outcome, either.

ETNZ leads LR 2-0, though crew from both boats admit they are not sure it's due to boatspeed.  Emirates did swap to a different mainsail, which by some accounts may have pulled them even with Luna Rossa in the windward department.  Other just say ETNZ has positioned themselves well, seizing gains as they become available while still covering enough not to get jumped.  Overall tactics have been sound for both boats, and only in trying one extra dash of aggression at the start did ITA-94's James Spithill instead give NZL-92's Dean Barker an opening to strike back harder.  The Aussie versus Kiwi battle was over before the gun went off.

What's different Sunday?  Several weather gurus think it may be questionable to even start, and possibly that also means conditions could still be shifty if the race does get off the line.  Calls are for a lighter wind range, generally, and based on past performance that would favor ETNZ.

What's not different?  Execution, always at a premium in America's Cup, is the stuff of life at this stage.  With these highly refined boats and more consistent wind regimes, early leads are extremely hard for trailing boats to overcome now unless the front-runner makes an offsetting mistake.

 Pressure to win the start, not just get away cleanly, is immense now that the teams have seen how tough it is to catch another fast v5 boat.  The teams aren't likely to change any fundamentals at this point, and much will come down to just not mucking up (and not being unlucky either).

Some observers in Valencia think they see signs of cracking in the Italian camp, but Luna Rossa fought through a lot to get here, and even in an 0-2 hole there is a lot of sailing left to be done.  AmericaOne came to life late in the 2000 LVC Final and took Prada to nine races.  It would be a surprise if this Final doesn't generate some sparks of its own before the Challenger is decided.

Weather:
  RepCast: Calm winds early, becoming ESE to SE 12-14 knots.  ETNZ: wind E to SE 6-10 knots.  ACM: Light SE seabreeze 6-8 knots.  Warning gun scheduled for 14:50h


Onboard NZL-92.
Photo: ©2007 Gilles Martin-Raget/www.martin-raget.com

     
     

Race 2: Saturday June 2


Coming through: ETNZ jumps out ahead of Luna Rossa 2-0.
Photo:
©2007 Gilles Martin-Raget
/www.martin-raget.com

ETNZ wins Race 2, takes 2-0 lead in series.

Race 2 Results:
 ETNZ turned a small lead at the start into 25 seconds at the top mark.  And then added 10 seconds more downwind.  Things fell apart a bit more for LR on the second windward. ETNZ led by 0:39 heading into the last leg, and despite some attempts at separation, LR and ITA-94 crossed the finish 0:40 behind NZL-92.  Winds were 11-13 knots ESE to SE.

Quotes:
Joe Newton, Trimmer, Luna Rossa:
Asked whether ETNZ showed more speed upwind, Leg 3 in particular:  "We think the boats are pretty even.  They had a pretty good advantage by that point, so we were trying to get some separation and get away from them and to find a little shift, but it never really came and we were forced to tack in a few spots we didn't really like, and they took a gain up at the top."

"The Kiwis did a really nice job of staying in front while staying in phase and turned that into a little bit of a bigger lead."

Ray Davies, Strategist, ETNZ:  "Dean did a really good job, basically.  He made it very tough for Luna Rossa to get back to the start line.  And Luna Rossa obviously wanted to get to the right of us.  Dean reacted very well there and made it very tough for them.  So therefore they started downspeed and we had a good rumble on and were able to tack quite early.  We were then able to protect the windward side of Luna Rossa all the way across to the right hand side, and we were making little gains there being to the left of them."

More quotes at ACM

 

Saturday Outlook:

Race 1 was a barnburner.  Race 2 should see similar weather conditions.  Watch closely to see if the same performance patterns emerge, or if different starting tactics and wind calls (and wind shifts) can upset the balance of power.

  Weather:
 ACM: Wind SE 12-14 knots.  RepCast: Wind east 3-7 filling in around race time to SE 12-14 knots.  ETNZ: SE 12-18 knots.  First Warning Gun at 14:50h.

 If Luna Rossa sees what everyone else apparently did, they are probably not too worried about the windward leg matchups, but they will have to win the series there and in the pre-starts.  On the leeward legs of the course, Emirates was able to defend a lead.  

If there truly is a an upwind speed nod to ITA-94, early leads will have even more of a premium in this series than the previous one.  Expect something more in the way of pre-start fireworks from Jimmy Spithill and Luna Rossa.

A lurking question is where BMWO would have fit into a matchup with ETNZ.  Finals Race 1 contained a cruel suggestion that if USA-98 had ever had a lead to defend against LR, the semi-finals might have looked a lot different.  They didn't, and the question is academic, but clues to how fast each team really is/was are in the offing and the answers they suggest are tantalizing for analysis of the teams still in it.

 

     
     

Race 1: Friday June 1


ETNZ gets on the board in Race 1.

Photo: ©2007 Chris Cameron/ETNZ

Friday Results:
 
ETNZ grabs it! A 1-0 lead in a very close race.

 Expectations for a close contest were met, and sailing fans worldwide rewarded by the opening match between Finalists Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL-92) and Luna Rossa (ITA-94).

 Very tight match racing as the Kiwis clung to their lead despite the Italian boat showing a lot of speed. Starting on the right side of their opponent, New Zealand patiently waited for their starboard advantage to pay, and ended up rounding the first mark with a 12 second lead over Luna Rossa.

The Italians were able to gain a little bit on the first run, and followed NZL-92 on the right side of the downwind gate, trailing by 9 seconds. The second beat saw the teams fight for the right side of the course, with Emirates Team New Zealand keeping their starboard advantage all the way to the mark.

Despite a persistent right shift which helped the Kiwis increase their lead by a couple of seconds, the Italians showed great capacity to keep the game close enough to be in a passing position downwind. And Luna Rossa almost made it! Finishing neck and neck, the two teams delivered a heart-pounding photo-finish as NZL-92 crossed the line before ITA-94 to score the first point of the Louis Vuitton Finals.

Final delta: Emirates Team New Zealand beats Luna Rossa by 0:08.

Quotes:
Ray Davies, Strategist, Emirates Team New Zealand
: "It was pretty dangerous most of the way round; I donít think there was any time when we felt comfortable. We had to defend pretty hard and we took quite a loss on the second beat, had a narrow lead at the top and on the last run Prada had a pretty strong position behind us. There were some nervous moments there where they could have got some breeze that we couldnít have done anything about; it would have been out of our control. But we were able to the hold pressure in front of them and keep our air until the finish."

Torben Grael, Tactician, Luna Rossa Challenge: "Itís hard to call today bad luck, they sailed well. We didnít have exactly what we thought in the first beat and maybe will have to work harder next time. There are different days and different decisions to be made."

More quotes at ACM


Luna Rossa kept it close all day long.
Photo: ©2007 Lyn Hines

 

Friday Outlook:

Warning gun:
 
14:50h, Friday.

Weather:
 
Early forecast for 9-14 knots.

Start Box Entry:
 
Luna Rossa ITA-94 will enter on starboard (yellow), ETNZ NZL-92 will enter on port (blue).

It's here!  Emirates Team New Zealand versus Italy's Luna Rossa.  NZL-92 versus ITA-94.  Some key Aussies and American's thrown in there, too, but both of these teams have strong national representation, and have fought long and hard to be here.  In fact, they met in 2000 when TNZ defended the America's Cup against rookie Prada.  It's been a long strange trip since then, more so for TNZ.

Luna Rossa dismissed BMW Oracle handily in the semi-finals, James Spithill and crew looking sharp in the pre-start, Torben Grael clairvoyant when it came to calling the wind, and the radical ITA-94 fast enough the rest of the time not to give very much up to the powerhouse USA-98.

ETNZ had more of a fight than most expected against DesafŪo EspaŮol, but the Kiwis have rode at the top of the Louis Vuitton Fleet for a couple years now, finishing first among the challengers in many of the preliminary Act regattas, and winning both the overall rankings going into the LVC rounds robin and coming out of them.

Both teams are reputed to have trick boats, and are here on the backs of extremely well-trained crews.  Weaknesses:  ETNZ was perceived to be a bit vulnerable in the pre-start, but then they pasted ESP-97 in Race 7 before the gun to help shut the door in the semis.  LR was viewed as "sticky", meaning slow, in light air during the Rounds Robin.  But BMWO never made much of that during the semis, if it was even true then.

What to watch for, though?  Strengths.  LR's 5-1 romp over BMWO and reputed rocketship USA-98 was chalked up by many to the Italians finding extra gears somewhere.  If ITA really has such dominant speed, they will make short work of ETNZ, too.  On the other hand, Emirates has had the chance to analyze LR's racing profile, and may have figured out where to go at LR to best effect.  NZL-92 didn't give anything up to ESP-97, a downwind speed demon who mowed down her Round Robin rivals. 

If the LVC finalists have asymmetrical advantages, it should make for interesting racing.   Is ETNZ going to attack downwind?  Will this race break the first cross, first mark pattern?  Boats should enter the start box at 14:55h Friday.

     

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