LVC Finals: Emirates Team New Zealand Dominates Race 3

Luna Rossa wins the start and the race to the hoist, but falls short everywhere else, dropping Race 3 to put itself in a 3-0 hole. Emirates Team New Zealand looked especially strong in the lighter winds.


Stuart Streuli

VALENCIA, Spain-The situation turned dire today for Luna Rossa Challenge. In the first two races of the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup finals, the team was able to convincingly blame their losses a bit of bad luck with the wind, not getting the shift at the right time. But today's 98-second loss in Race 3 of the Louis Vuitton Finals appeared to be all about boatspeed. In the 8- to 10-knot conditions, Emirates Team New Zealand had it, and Luna Rossa did not. The loss puts Patrizio Bertelli's three-time syndicate in a 3-0 hole in the best-of-9 series. After a day off tomorrow, racing will resume on Tuesday with a must-win race for the Italian team. Afterguard member Ben Durham explains how the team can come back from a 3-0 deficit. Ray Davies, of Emirates Team New Zealand, says his team can't afford to start celebrating yet.Luna Rossa helmsman James Spithill did his job in the pre-start forcing Emirates Team New Zealand to start late and downspeed. But a combination of better wind pressure right off the line, and superior boatspeed turned the race quickly in favor of Emirates Team New Zealand. In the light conditions, the New Zealand boat appeared quicker upwind and downwind and once again ETNZ tactician Terry Hutchinson was flawless, clamping down on the Italian team when needed, and occasionally letting ITA-94 slip away if he thought there was a gain to be made on his side. It was a clinical performance and Luna Rossa never appeared to have a chance. The lead was 40 seconds at the first mark, 55 at the next two, and over a minute and a half at the end. Match Notes, Race 3Another beautiful day on the Mediterranean Sea. The sea breeze wasn't as strong as days past, building to around 8 to 10 knots by the time racing started. Nice flat sea, however, a perfect day for sailing.Course was set to 3.3 nautical miles at 115 degrees. The breezed seemed steadier, direction-wise, but with a few puffs and holes.Boat boats entered on time, LR at the starboard end. Dean Barker on ETNZ tried a bit of a risky move, after faking low and getting LR to bite and sail deep, ETNZ hardened up and tried to sneak across the bow of LR. The Kiwis almost made it, forcing James Spithill to tack to port stay to the right. But Spithill was able to prevent ETNZ from crossing and forced Dean Barker to luff (on port) three boatlengths to windward of the starting line. It put ETNZ in a very precarious position. The boats starting moving backwards toward the line and with a little over a minute to go both boats fell on to port tack, LR in the controlling position to leeward.At this point it appeared Spithill had the start won and could do whatever he wanted. He chose the left side, jibing around in front of the committee boat and then powering toward the middle of the line. ETNZ was forced to into doing a tack with 15 seconds left, and hit the line just down from the boat 4 seconds late and downspeed.LR quickly built almost a 25-meter lead, one boatlength, off the line. But ETNZ appeared to start in better pressure, the boat more heeled and a little wound up. Davies says this windshift was a timely bit of luck. With in a few minutes the advantage line had disappeared as the boats sailed on starboard. Durham explains how the race turned so quickly against Luna Rossa in this audio clip.ENTZ ground out a lead of around a boatlength by the time LR decided to tack after about 10 minutes of sailing. A medium-length tacking duel followed, with ETNZ pushing LR out past the layline. The lead was building all the time, the advantage line stretching to 100 meters and more. The delta at the first mark was 40 seconds. On the beat, Emirates Team New Zealand was using a some fairings over the forward winches. Pitman Barry McKay answers a few questions about this latest wrinkle in AC technology, including where they store them downwind when they're not needed, here.LR mixed things up a bit with a Zambuca at the windward mark. This is also called a drag around. The boat headed into the mark looking like it was set up for a normal bear-away set. However the Italians rolled right into a jibe as the spinnaker was going up (on the right side of the boat) and then pulled the spinnaker around the headstay through the jibe. Luna Rossa midbowman Max Sirena explains that this call often comes quite late in the leg.ENTZ matched the Zambuca with a jibe of its own, and while LR was able to get a little bit of separation downwind the lead didn't seem to get any smaller. LR split gates at the leeward mark, taking the left-side gate after ETNZ had rounded the right-side gate. But with a lead of 55 seconds, ETNZ was able to round, get up to speed, and tack to cover before LR rounded the mark.The second beat was more of the same. ETNZ and Terry Hutchinson playing defense while occasionally looking for an opportunity to gain. The lead stayed the same, 55 seconds.On the final run, LR appeared to quit, losing another 43 seconds to ETNZ.Emirates Team New Zealand def. Luna Rossa Challenge by 1:38.Emirates Team New Zealand leads the best-of-9 series 3-0.