SAN FRANCISCO — Italy will sail against New Zealand here on Saturday in the Louis Vuitton Cup final, to determine which nation’s boat will challenge the United States for the America’s Cup, in September.
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This past Saturday, the Italian boat, Luna Rossa Challenge, completed a 4-0 sweep in head-to-head races against Sweden’s Artemis Racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinal round. Artemis Racing won three of the four starts, but was overtaken by Luna Rossa by the second of six marks in each race.
Artemis skipper, Iain Percy said it wasn’t lack of speed, but lack of practice that kept them from doing better in the challenger series. Artemis was unable to sail until the semifinals, due to a horrific capsize two months ago that destroyed their first boat and killed the boat’s strategist, Andrew Simpson.
Patrizio Bertelli, principal of Luna Rossa Challenge, admitted that his team will be the underdog when it sails against the Kiwis this Saturday.
“We have grown up, have become more competitive, but the time that is left is not in our advantage.”
Emirates Team New Zealand beat Luna Rossa 4-0 in the preliminaries to get an automatic start in the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup and Chris Draper, helmsman for Luna Rossa said that although his crew has “improved a lot … we’re going to have to sail incredibly well, and we need to get more performance out of our boat to be competitive with them.”
As to his quick exit from the America’s Cup, Artemis Racing Principal Torbjörn Törnqvist said his first campaign to win the America’s Cup would not be his last. Regarding criticisms made against the radical design of the AC72, the 72-foot-long, lethal, wing-sail catamarans created for this year’s running of the America’s Cup, Törnqvist responded,
“These are spectacular boats and the tradition of America’s Cup has always been spectacular boats for their time. Some of the traditional racing perhaps gets lost. It’s more raw speed, but I think it’s too early to summarize. There are pros and cons, clearly, to this.”
Controversy or not, the Louis Vuitton Cup finals begin this Saturday at 1:10 p.m., with a second race at 2:10 p.m., in a best of seven series.