Finally, damage free racing: Emirates Team NZ take 4-1 lead in Louis Vuitton Cup eliminators


Hallelujah! A full two-race programme completed by both boats in the Louis Vuitton Cup elimination series for the America's Cup. Races four and five were free of either boat being damaged or the wind being too strong and Emirates Team New Zealand won both of them to go 4-1 up in the best of 13 series over the Prada-backed Italians in Luna Rossa.

That leaves the Kiwis needing just three more wins to secure the right to line up against the locally-based defender, Oracle Team USA in America's Cup 34, which starts 7 September, this time a best of 17 over 14 days. In nine meetings with Luna Rossa, the Kiwis lead 8-1 after having been hit by a retirement and disqualification because of battery/hydraulic failure in race two of the LVC final.

Chris Draper, the British Olympic medallist at the helm of Luna Rossa, was unhappy that he again was left trailing at the start because the timing system on board was faulty, but at the end of a relatively short course the gap was 2min 18sec, about two kilometres.

Race 5 was more of a contest, especially in the early stages, but the Kiwis just powered away on a five-leg course that lasted just 25 minutes. But what was also evident was that there may be opportunities for some tight racing in the new 72-foot wing-powered catamarans.

“That was a pretty solid day all round and the guys sailed really well,” said ETNZ skipper Dean Barker. Race six is scheduled for Friday.