Race 1 of the LV finals starts with drama as both teams suffer major breakdowns

Luna Rossa’s crisis, when a problem with the dagger board controls forced them out of race one just a matter of minutes into the competition, was almost matched by a frighteningly close call for the Kiwis as they buried the bows at the windward mark. The Kiwis lost two crew members overboard, (fortunately neither crew was injured), but also suffered serious damage to their port side trampoline fairing to say nothing of coming close to a pitch pole.

But while the damage was a setback for the Kiwis, they would be heading to the dock at the end of the day in no doubt as to how close they had come to a complete disaster as they came close to pitch poling the boat. A clear demonstration as to just how fine line even the best are treading each time they sail these boats.

The drama for the day had started before the race had even begun as Luna Rossa were seen frantically trying to fix a problem with one of their starboard daggerboard control lines. They were handed a little extra time by the breeze that had been dancing precariously close to the upper wind limit, forcing the race committee to delay the start.

All looked OK for a while in the pre-start although Luna Rossa appeared to miss an opportunity to get the hook on the Kiwis and pin them up before the start. But around a minute later, with the Kiwis having won the start and reached the first mark ahead, such subtleties became irrelevant. Shortly after the bear away Luna Rossa’s dagger board problems returned as the board flapped around precariously. It was game over for the Italians who then limped around the course.

The Kiwis were no longer under any pressure but that didn’t prevent drama from striking at the windward mark as Emirates Team New Zealand buried their bows at speed shortly after the bear away.

As the boat went from 40 knots to zero in a second or two, crew members Rod Waddell and Chris Ward were swept off the boat. In the accident a large portion of the port trampoline fairing was seriously damaged too.

Barker and Co managed to limp down the downwind leg before limping across the finishing line to take a win – the first of the Louis Vuitton finals.

Shortly after the finish the Kiwis set about removing the broken fairing and fixing up temporary netting in order to be ready for the next race. Meanwhile, the Italians’ problems appeared to be less easy to fix as they did little to effect a second repair.

In the end the breeze picked up to well over 20 knots forcing the race committee to postpone race 2 for the day.

So despite plenty of renewed expectation for a match which was hoped to be closer as the Italians fit some new toys and up their game, the race degenerated into a demolition derby before the second race was blown off. Drama aplenty perhaps, but once again not what the organizers wanted.