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America's Cup Rialto: March 13 - A turbulent learning experience for both teams

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 15 Mar 12:57 NZDT 15 March 2021
Luna Rossa - America's Cup - Day 3 - March 13, , Course A © Richard Gladwell / Sail-World.com

The course area moved to Course A, adjacent to Rangitoto Island, and like Course E proved once again to be a speed track, with no real passing lanes.

The last time there was a change of race lead at a mark was on Day 4 of the America’s Cup Regatta, in Round Robin 2 of the Prada Cup. Since then over 100 legs were sailed without a change of race leader.

After six races in the America’s Cup Match the score stands at three wins apiece, and with the boats winning alternate races, is the most keenly contested Match in the 150 years of America’s Cup racing history, dating back to the first Match in 1870.

Being a weekend there was a massive spectator fleet estimated to be 1,500 vessels. Ashore with the lowering of COVID19 Alert Levels to Level 1, the Auckland fans poured into the America’s Cup Village, giving the two America’s Cup teams a rousing send off and noisy return.

Due to the tidal flow, the minimum wind limit was lifted to around 7.5kts , which was only just above the racing windstrength of 8kts for the first race of the afternoon.

The commentator’s theory about the port entry AC75 winning the start was debunked in the start of Race 5, with Emirates Team New Zealand coming in from the left hand and into the start box. They timed their run to perfection sailing at 4.5 times windspeed hitting 40kts in just 9kts of breeze. According to the performance data fed to Virtual Eye the Kiwis got to five times windspeed in the startbox sailing at 35kts in 7kts of breeze. Luna Rossa was turning in similarly impressive windspeed ratios.

Just under a minute from the start, with both AC75’s trying to kill speed, Emirates Team New Zealand came off their foils, but recovered,.

The Kiwis then got caught in the turbulence off Luna Rossa’s mainsail as the Italians passed to windward. Te Rehutai was unable to come up to the start line, despite sailing at 27kts. Emirates Team NZ was forced to get onto port tack and head for the right hand or Rangitoto side of the course and better breezes.

But Luna Rossa sailed a more controlled first 30 seconds of the race and established a lead of 200 metres just over 30 seconds after the start signal.

Luna Rossa was easily able to defend, and the Italians won their third race, going to the top of the America’s Cup leaderboard.

On Race 6, Luna Rossa entered on port, but were at least five seconds late, allowing Emirates Team New Zealand to close in during the pre-start chase, dropping onto the transom of Luna Rossa.

With just under a minute to go, the two split away, with Luna Rossa coming back on the layline for the starboard (right-hand) start mark, and Emirates Team New Zealand well above them, with 40 secs left to the start.

In a replay of the previous start but with the positions reversed, the Kiwis timed their start to perfection, and compounded Luna Rossa’s foiling woes. Burling dropped down onto the Italian’s line with 5sec left to the start and sailing at 34kts, forcing Luna Rossa to sail through some very turbulent air to get to the start line.

As the Italians crossed the start line Burling and friends were 150metres ahead and sailing 10kts faster. Luna Rossa was forced to keep sailing in the wash off the Kiwis rig, and dropping another 100 metres back on the flying Kiwis.

After tacking to get to the right hand side of the course, Luna Rossa, possibly as a result of sailing in the ETNZ generated turbulence, came off her foils conceding another 100 metres with the just over two minutes old.

At the windward Mark 1, Emirates Team New Zealand led by 700metres, and in the steady breeze there was no coming back with the Kiwis extending to be double that margin at the finish line.

The scoreline was back to even, with three wins apiece.

Got some interesting comments from the mixed zone, will have these up in this tory after today's Preview

Check out the latest odds offered by the TAB with the gap being closed between the Italians and Kiwis, but still with the Italians on a very good price - click here

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