Emirates Team New Zealand take a second win against the Italians in the Louis Vuitton finals. Matthew Sheahan reports

 When compared to the wafer thin winning delta of just 8 seconds for the first match of the finals, Emirates Team New Zealand appeared to cruise to their second victory today, crossing 40 seconds ahead of Luna Rossa.

The Kiwis had led the race from the start and extended their lead throughout in a cool calm and collected style. Their win seems to provide further evidence for the growing belief that success in the 32nd America’s Cup is fast boiling down to three crucial elements. Controlling the start, choosing the side of the course and dealing with the first cross. Naturally, boat speed and crew work are important too, but at this level the boat handling aboard Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa is frequently flawless.

Today, coming into the start box from the starboard side the Kiwis then demonstrated how, even when the most advantageous side of the course is on the right, losing that position on the line doesn’t always spell a loss. Instead, when the gun went it became clear that the Italians had paid heavily for wanting the right as they hit the line on time, but with less pace than the Kiwis who were tucked up underneath their leeward bow. The Italians were forced to tack away, in a downspeed tack that added to the cost of being on the right.

“The turning point was at the start,” confirmed Luna Rossa’s navigator Michele Ivaldi. “We wanted the right a little more strongly than yesterday. TNZ and Deano did a good job in making us pay the right, we had the side but we paid with some boat speed crossing the starting line.”

What appeared as a small advantage early in the race, grew to a 25 second lead by the top mark as the Kiwi’s engaged in a 23 tack duel up the first beat. From there the delta grew, albeit second by second to a finishing margin of 40 seconds, a clear and welcome second victory for the Kiwis.

To lose a second match on the trot will have hurt the Italian team. Aside from the fragile BMW Oracle, Luna Rossa have been considered by many as the second team most likely to feel the pressure of defeat. Sure, this is not a crisis yet, but the heat will be starting to build.

Meanwhile, in the Kiwi camp the first signs of a team on a roll were in evidence today.

“It was an awesome day, one of the best days we have had on board,” said a beaming Ray Davies at the press conference after the race. “It was all working really well, Terry [Hutchinson] was on fire, he was sailing really confidently. It felt like it was working really well at the back of the boat, and the power house in the middle of the boat sailed really well also, so it was a really good day for us.”

And a good day for their weather team. With so little to separate the teams and the need to gain even the smallest advantage early, calling the weather correctly is now a crucial part of the race.

“For sure there is a weather call in every race,” said Ivaldi. “We had a suggestion to get the right a little bit more strongly than yesterday, we didn’t get it quite right, but we are confident that our weather team is doing a good job so far. We’re not doubting their skills and will keep trusting their suggestions.”

The weather call to the Kiwis was subtly different but essentially the same. The right was the side to have but not at all costs.

“Yes we would have liked the right,” confirmed Davies. “If we could have started on the right we would have done.”

But knowing how to do without appears to be one of several lessons the Kiwis have learned and rehearsed to perfection.

The weather for tomorrow’s race [Sunday match three] looks likely to make further demands on the weather team with a light southeasterly breeze forecast.

Another phase for the pair but will it yield a different result?


Emirates Team New Zealand – 2

Luna Rossa – 0

Related/previous features:

 /www.ybw.com/auto/newsdesk/20070501191939ywamericascup07.html> Kiwis Take First Win 
America’s Cup Match Preview? 
America’s Cup Shopping Spree Starts 
America’s Cup Double Whammy 
Dickson Off America’s Cup Boat 
America’s Cup Confidence Trick 
Wheels Coming Off America’s Cup Dream? 


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