The Italians win their fourth race in a row and Artemis are the first team to be eliminated from the 34th America's Cup
Confusion reigned in the opening two minutes of race four of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup semi finals. This was a must-win match for Iain Percy’s Artemis if they were to stay in the game. While they have clearly been the underdogs, no one was taking anything for granted and certainly not the Luna Rossa team. But few were expecting sparks to fly quite as they did in the pre-start.
In a reversal of the previous day’s pre-start manoeuvering it was Artemis helmsman Nathan Outteridge who gained the upper hand as he managed to place the Swedish boat to leeward of Luna Rossa and force the windward boat up into the breeze. From there Outteridge should have been able to hold the advantage as Luna Rossa rolled into a tack onto port before tacking back onto starboard. The trouble was that Outteridge had also tacked onto port and now couldn’t get back onto starboard before the two boats collided. Luna Rossa protested and won, the umpires delivering a penalty to Artemis as the Swedish boat scorched off towards the first mark. Unfortunately this was not as it was portrayed on the television with a graphic incorrectly delivering the penalty to Luna Rossa instead. In a few seconds it seemed a dream start for Artemis supporters. But in reality the Swedes were on the back foot.
The trouble was that the team didn’t realize it either. In the heat of the moment, while leading the race in the opening seconds as both boats drag raced to the first mark, the Artemis team didn’t see and/or respond to the penalty which picked them up a second penalty as they rounded the first mark to head downwind.
The more they delayed the bigger the time penalty got and the more agonizing it became to watch. A dramatic start to what promised to be the closest and most exciting race so far, scrubbed in the opening few minutes.
Luna Rossa had taken the America’s Cup lead and were once again in no mood to give it back. As they settled into their stride they gained in confidence and pulled distance on their competitors all the way around the course.
Sadly for Artemis the penalties didn’t stop there with two more incurred through breaching the course boundaries adding further to their deficit.
By the end of the race Luna Rossa had extended their lead to 2min 11sec and had built on their confidence once again in the process. Sailing smoothly and efficiently they made few if any mistakes around the course.
“I told you he was a punchy Aussie,” joked Chris Draper about his opposite on Artemis. “We thought they would get a penalty but it was pretty marginal.”
The win puts Luna Rossa into the America’s Cup finals against Emirates Team New Zealand which starts on Sat 17 Aug. The question now is have the Italians improved sufficiently to beat the Kiwis? There is no doubt that Luna Rossa has improved, certainly in their ability to gybe from foil to foil, but given the margins that the Kiwis were beating them by in the Round Robin it is difficult to see that they have made sufficient gains. Having said that, in the four races between Artemis and Luna Rossa both teams were upping the ante with each match making it far more difficult to establish where the datum really is.
But for Artemis it’s the end of the road for the 34th America’s Cup. Theirs has been a journey through some of the darkest times of any Cup team but their self belief, determination and their rapid ascent up the learning curve has earned them the respect of the Cup community and left many wondering what may have been if they had had more time on the water.
LV Semi Final Race 4 ITA SWE
Distance Sailed (km) 34.91 36.37
Average Speed (kts) 24.17 23.99
Max Speed (kts) 40.82 42.05
Winning margin 2min 11sec