With a finish line manoeuvre to exonerate an earlier penalty, Emirates Team New Zealand kept its Louis Vuitton Trophy bacon sizzling and lived to fight another day against Italian rivals Azzurra in their semi-final clash.
By just one second, Dean Barker and crew squeezed their noses over the finish line as Azzurra bore down on them, threatening them with expulsion from a competition they won last year.
As darkness was falling and Aucklanders were turning to Friday night rugby and revels, race officer Peter Reggio called for a deciding third race, but then decided enough was enough. So, the Kiwis went into the clubhouse at 1-1 in the best of three and faced the decider on Saturday morning (local time) in front of what was expected to be a big home crowd.
The rascally Italians of Mascalzone Latino, the team which represents the Challenger of Record for the next America’s Cup, had grabbed the first berth in the finals, beating Sweden’s Artemis team 2-1 in the semi-final.
The two finalists then meet in what was originally programmed to be a best of seven, is likely to be reduced to a best of five, and could be even less if the wind proves unco-operative.
The giant French trimaran Groupama, skippered by Franck Cammas, is expected top set a new record for sailing round the world non-stop when it crosses the finish line off Brest this weekend. The current time of 50d 16hr 20min was set by Bruno Peyron in the 120-foot catamaran Orange II in 2005. Cammas is almost sure to break the 50-day barrier by a substantial margin tommorow.