Emirates Team New Zealand scored yet another thumping win against Luna Rossa in their last Round Robin match

The last race of the Round Robin phase of the Louis Vuitton Challenger series between Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa saw yet another flawless performance by the Kiwis as they hammered home another solid win against the Italians.

The margin at the finish was 3min 20secs, a cause for a pat on the back no doubt in the Italian camp having more than halved the margin between themselves and the Kiwis when compared to their last race. But the bottom line is that there is still a very long way to go for Luna Rossa if they are to stand any chance of being the Challengers come the end of August when the Louis Vuitton Cup ends.

Today’s race was in breezier conditions than previously with the wind strength starting at an average of 15 knots and peaking at 19.6knots in the second half of the 45 minute race.

While the Italians were dealt another brutal loss, their performance had definitely improved in two key areas. The first was the pre-start in which helmsman Chris Draper put pressure on Kiwi skipper Dean Barker as he tried to press the Kiwis up to the line and close to the committee boat in order to allow themselves to bear away to leeward and put their pedal to the metal. In the event Draper and co. were just a few seconds shy of being able to execute this plan and while both boats hit the start line within a second of the gun, it was again Barker who managed to get his nose in front to round the first mark ahead.

From then on it was the usual one sided affair as ETNZ stretched their lead on every leg.

The second area that Luna Rossa had improved on was their boat handling which is looking smoother and more balanced with every outing. There were even cases of foil to foil gybes. But the trouble for the Italian team is that while they are staking steps forward, so are the Kiwis who have raised their game through the gybes once again.

At present at least, this Cup, which has been played out at close to the maximum wind speed limit is fast becoming a series of races defined by how slick a team can perform a foil to foil gybe. It’s impressive to watch, but sadly, as yet, there is no hint of the close fast action that we had hoped for. You only have to look at the average speeds to see why each race is a one sided affair.

Around the course Luna Rossa averaged 24.50knots to the Kiwis’ 25.21 knots. Peak speeds showed a similar discrepancy with 39.55 knots to 42.76knots by ETNZ.

Today’s (Sunday) race marked the last match between the Kiwis and the Italians in the Round Robin phase of the LV Cup. Tuesday and Thursday would see each team race Artemis but the Swedish team will continue to be no-shows until 6 August when they plan to take part in the semi finals.

Having won the Round Robin, the Kiwis get to jump straight to the finals which start on 17 August. They do however have the choice and could, if they wanted, race in the semis, but no one expects them to. We will find out later after the press conference.

In the meantime, the next phase of racing promises a change of gear and perhaps some closer matches as the Italians take on Artemis. The Swedish team, lead by Iain Percy have had precious few hours on the water in their new boat but they are very quick learners with a mission in mind. While it seems unlikely that, barring a major issue, they will present any problems for the Kiwis, I for one am expecting, (or perhaps that’s just hoping), them to stir things up a little come the beginning of next month.

LV Cup – Race 13               ITA           NZL
Distance Sailed (km)          36.584    35.058
Average Speed (kts)           24.50       25.21
Max Speed (kts)                 39.55       42.76

1. Emirates Team New Zealand 8-0 – 8 points
2. Luna Rossa Challenge 3-5 – 3 points
3. Artemis Racing 0-6 – 0 points