Saturday, March 20, 2021

36th America's Cup : Emirates Team New Zeeland wins 36th America’s Cup

Day 6 race 9
An astounding battle of tacking and gybing

From AmericaCup

Today had a very different feel. Today was the first day that the America’s Cup could be won.
Today was the chance for the Italians to redress the balance after a day in which they had lost two races after winning the starts and maintaining their advantage for the first few legs.
Today was the day that Emirates Team New Zealand could take another step towards winning the Cup.
Emirates Team New Zealand entered cleanly across Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli who took their time to gybe around and head out to the right-hand side of the pre-start zone.
The Kiwis were first to get there, gybing around while the Italians tacked before diving back down to the Kiwis.
Plenty of weaving followed as both boats tried to slow down on their approach to the start line.
With the greater wind speeds the pre-start zone was feeling smaller.

The start was even, both on starboard but a big big gap between the two as they charged out to the left-hand boundary at 30 knots.
A critical tack was coming – could Luna Rossa get up to the Kiwis and cast dirty air on them?

The Italians’ height mode was working as they eventually forced the Kiwis to tack off while they headed for the right-hand lay line for the top gate who had to put in two tacks to get around the top gate plus.
As they came together the Kiwis dipped the Italians’ transom to take the right hand mark of Gate 1, while Luna Rossa took the left hand mark, leading by just a second.
As the pair split on the downwind leg the Kiwis seemed to get a better gust of breeze and manged to cross in front of the Italians when they came back together a lead change followed.
Now they had swapped sides, gone to the full width of the course and were about to come back at each other for another cross.
This time it was the Italians who were in front, another lead change. By the bottom gate a perfectly executed gybe by the Italians protected their position and forced the Kiwis to follow them through Gate 2.

As the second beat continued the battle remained close but by the top at Gate 3 the Italians had protected their lead once again.

The same was true of Leg 4 with yet more close racing. At the bottom Luna Rossa LR rounded the right-hand mark of Gate 4 and were 3 seconds ahead as Emirates Team New Zealand took the left-hand mark.
The Italians had released their cover on the Kiwis, although they retained the starboard tack advantage. 
When they came back together Luna Rossa was still ahead.

But the big change came towards the top of Leg 5 when the pair came together once again.
Now it was the turn of the Kiwis to come back in on starboard.
But Luna Rossa were just ahead as they crossed and tacked in front of the Kiwis forcing the defenders to tack back to the right-hand side of the course. Was this another risk? 
The Italians would be on port tack when they came back.

But there was trouble in store as the breeze shifted right, benefitting the Kiwis.
By the time the pair came back for Gate 5 Team New Zealand had taken the lead, rounding the left-hand mark ahead by 18 seconds.

One leg to the finish with a distance of 400 m between the pair, this was a big distance to make up for the Italians with so little runway left.As Emirates Team New Zealand came into the finish they had taken Race 9 by 29 seconds in the closing stages of the race.
A dramatic and closely fought race to place Emirates Team New Zealand within just one win to take the 36th America’s Cup.

Max Sirena, Skipper & Team Director:
"Possibly one of the best races we have seen in the last 15 years of the America's Cup. The guys did really well controlling at the start, we kept them behind for four legs without ever giving up. After all, we are in the final against a very strong team and I am very proud of the guys on the water and the whole team, because today they raced an amazing race. Obviously we are very disappointed with the outcome, but we are still alive and tomorrow we will go on the water to fight and we will give everything. It's not over yet."

Francesco Bruni, Helmsman:
"It's a hard one to digest. We raced flawlessly until they overtook us: we had to decide whether to defend the left or go right, and in hindsight it probably was the wrong choice. It was very hard to keep them behind, they definitely had an extra gear because whenever we tried to stretch our lead we couldn't shake them off and as soon as we gave them some space they just set off. We don't feel too much remorse because the race was conducted very well, but we don't plan to give up and we will continue to do what we need to do, analyzing where we can improve to get back on the water geared up to go win."

Vasco Vascotto, Afterguard:
"The race was really difficult with tricky wind conditions. I believe the boys raced incredibly well, and Team New Zealand was forced to adapt to our choices. We led the game, and gave a great show of match racing, not only at the start but also throughout the course. This is our mindset, and tomorrow we will keep on racing with this same attitude."

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