Luna Rossa takes a third win but both teams step up their games in the best race of the America's Cup matches so far

While the result at the finish line remained the same as in the previous two races with Luna Rossa taking a third consecutive win in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup semi finals, the race provided a first for America’s Cup viewers with both boats in the same frame for virtually all of the race. At the finish Artemis trailed by just 1min 18 seconds, the closest finish of any pair so far, an impressive achievement for a team that has been on the back foot for months.

But the America’s Cup race was not just about closing the gap, from an aggressive pre-start by Luna Rossa in which helmsman Chris Draper fought hard for a start that he won, the opening stages of this match provided plenty to get excited about. Both teams had raised their games considerably.

Having suffered badly from their inability to gybe on foils in their previous race two days ago, Artemis demonstrated once again just how fast they are climbing the learning curve as they swept into a flawless foiling gybe at mark one. The breeze was up, which helps this boat which is heavier than Luna Rossa, and the team had fitted new dagger boards and had modified their rudders. The transformation was impressive and a race was now on.

While Luna Rossa stayed in the lead by the bottom gate, Artemis was just 26 seconds behind.

In the two previous matches the upwind legs had proved tricky for Luna Rossa with Artemis frequently taking distance out of them only to lose it on the downhill legs. But not today as Draper and Co. executed perfect tactical beats in which they not only nailed the advantageous corners of the course, but covered Artemis at every opportunity.

By the top mark Luna Rossa had stretched out their lead to 52 seconds. While the commentators talked of the margin ‘ballooning’ this was still the smallest lead at this stage of the race that we have seen so far. A couple of bad gybes or missing a finger of extra breeze could see that margin reduced with ease. But Draper and his crew were in no mood for handing anything back, conscious that they had to not only beat Artemis but step up their game in the process if they are to stand any chance of beating the Kiwis in the finals.

In the end Luna Rossa beat Artemis by 1min 18secs to take their third win in a row. One more win on Saturday is all they need to seal a victory in the semis. But after today’s performance no one is taking anything for granted, especially Draper.

“I’m really proud of how we sailed today but at the same time there are too many smart people and too much talent on that boat [Artemis] for us not to take them very seriously.”

So, If you haven’t been watching so far, I strongly recommend you do today (tonight if you’re in the UK). The YouTube coverage is superb, simply plug your laptop into your TV and see if Artemis can take a point of Luna Rossa.

Racing starts at 2115 UK time but the show starts half an hour before.

LV Semi Final Race 3          ITA                  SWE
Distance Sailed (km)          36.317           36.089
Average Speed (kts)           24.73              24.00
Max Speed (kts)                39.71               37.25
Winning margin                 1min 18sec