Race 8 was one of surprises, except for one, the result in the defining race of the LV Cup

Emirates Team New Zealand is the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup and will be the Challengers for the 34th Americas Cup which starts on 7 Sept. But unlike the procession of wins that the score line suggests, this race was one of surprises, at least in the opening stages.

The weather threw the first curved ball at an event that has been dealt more than it’s fair share of hurdles. From too much breeze, to barely any and thick fog with it, Race 8 started in conditions that we haven’t seen before in San Francisco. As the fog rolled in under the Golden Gate Bridge the visibility was so bad that the TV helicopters couldn’t provide the overhead pictures that we’ve become so used to.

“It’s a little different coming into the pre-start when you don’t know where the other boat is,” said Kiwi skipper Dean Barker after the race.

A match race in the pre-start provided the next surprise as the two boats replicated the kind of jostling more commonly seen in monohull racing. But as the seconds counted down it was the Kiwis who got the better start once again, starting to windward and overhauling the Italians to the first mark. But just as we thought we’d seen it all in this one sided LV series, out came the code zeros for the downwind leg. The light conditions meant that foiling was not going to happen and both boats opted for the additional power that these furling sails provided.

But that was where the surprises finished and the familiar dominance of the Kiwis took over. By the bottom mark Emirates Team New Zealand was 1min 31 seconds ahead.

As the race unfolded the picture got worse for Italian fans. With the Kiwis sailing upwind at 19knots to the Italians 17knots the race was only going one way. By the weather mark the Kiwis had opened up a lead of 1000m as they turned to head downwind for the last time.

On this leg the breeze had increased to around 12-14knots and it was back to foiling with no code zero, at least not for the Kiwis. The Italians did hoist and set their zero but it was too little too late. The game was over for Luna Rossa, you could see it in their body language and hear it in skipper Chris Draper’s voice as he called for the gybes.

By the finish they were 3min 31seconds behind.

“It hurts bad to lose 7:1 but the Kiwis did a great job. We’re sad but proud,” said Chris Draper.

For Barker, the win wasn’t a surprise as much as a relief, after a few scares along the way they had made it through the Louis Vuitton series to win for a third time and gain the right to challenge for the 34th America’s Cup.

“It’s a step along the way,” said skipper Dean Barker. “This is all part of the preparation. We won the LV Cup but came up short in 2007 in Valencia so we’re going to be giving it all for the Cup.