Emirates Team New Zealand will go head to head with Oracle Team USA for the America’s Cup next month.
In classic foggy conditions on San Francisco Bay ETNZ knocked out rival Italian challenger Luna Rossa in the best of 13 final of the Louis Vuitton Cup elimination series by 7-1. It is the third time that New Zealand has won the Louis Vuitton Cup, starting in 1995 and then again in 2007.
It would have been 7-0 but for a combined electronic and hydraulic failure which saw the Kiwis have to pull out of the second race when they were ahead.
The Prada-backed Italians entered the America’s Cup a long time after New Zealand, bought an off-the-shelf design package from the Kiwis, and had no answer to the superior performance of the second Kiwi boat.
The new 72-foot wing-powered catamarans stipulated by the holders are more spectacular to watch, but they have not changed the susceptibility in former events to processions. When much slower monohull designs raced teams with a faster boat the results were also predictable.
The speculation which has accompanied successive events since a yacht called America won the trophy in a race around the Isle of Wight in 1851 now has another couple of weeks to run until Oracle lines up against Emirates team New Zealand for the first pair of races in the best of 17 which starts on 7 September.
Which yacht will be faster and if they are even which team will outwit and outsail the opponent?
It is predicted that Luna Rossa will now trial against Oracle, though Oracle will have to decide if that is more productive than in-house competition between the race boat, skippered by Australia’s Jimmy Spithill, and the second boat, skippered by the recently knighted British Olympian Ben Ainslie.
A notice from the international jury indicates that the investigation into modifications to Ainslie’s 45-foot boat for the America’s Cup World Series were such that the modified part could continue to be used, even though Ben Ainslie Racing had voluntarily and retrospectively retired from the last four regattas. Ainslie was part of an enquiry into whether a charge of gross misconduct should be heard by the jury.
Separately, the five-person jury will hear whether a breach of the protocol by Oracle under the charge of bringing the event into disrepute will be heard on 29 August.
ETNZ will now make further modifications to its boat hoping that the package will further improve the performance of the boat. Oracle is in a programme of constant improvements.