The world’s media is as glued as New Zealand sailing fans are to the America’s Cup Match between Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa, with the tight nature of the series provoking all kinds of speculation about which team has the upper hand.
After two days and four races, the scoreline sits deadlocked at 2-2 in the best-of-13 series, but TNZ’s race four victory in conditions its boat, Te Rehutai, was expected to struggle in, seems to have impressed pundits the most.
Italian sports website OA Sport’s Salvatore Serio speculated that TNZ supporters would have breathed a sigh of relief after the 63-second victory.
“Race-4… has restored oxygen to the New Zealand fans: they were convinced that they could easily defend the Old Jug, they found themselves up against the much-maligned Italian crew and only thanks to a significant performance were they able to impact the accounts.”
Writing for the UK’s Daily Telegraph, Tom Cary concurred with Serio.
“Home fans… would have been mightily relieved by the margin of their team’s victory in that second race: over a minute in the final reckoning.
“But they will be a little anxious by what they saw earlier. Luna Rossa are certainly proving to be more competitive than many expected in the build-up to this match.”
Just why and where Luna Rossa have proven to be more competitive than many observers predicted is being closely analysed by media with many pointing out its boat has some clear advantages over Te Rehutai.
“Many claim that Luna Rossa is slower, but that’s not true. Team New Zealand is slightly faster downwind because it has less wet surface. Upwind Luna Rossa has these foils that allow it to keep tighter angles, which is a very important advantage during the match race. In my opinion Luna Rossa is slightly faster upwind and slightly slower downwind,” former Olympic and America’s Cup sailor Tommaso Chieffi told OA Sport.
“It is true that the conditions thus far have favoured Italy. Their sweet spot is clearly at the lighter end of the wind range. On Wednesday Luna Rossa proved they could beat New Zealand in moderate winds of 10-12 knots. On Friday, in breezes only just above the lower limit of seven knots, the challengers were even more competitive,” Cary added for the Daily Telegraph.
Writing for the Yachting World website, Toby Heppell observed that Luna Rossa’s advantage came in its boat’s manoeuvrability.
“In all four races so far in this America’s Cup, we have seen a clear advantage to New Zealand on the downwind legs – though not quite enough to overcome any significant lead by their opposition. We have also seen the Kiwis sailing faster in the straight line upwind.
“However, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli are clearly able to sail higher upwind and tack their boat faster – or rather lose less ground with each tack.”
Sailing website Scuttlebutt agreed with Heppell.
“Italy can sail a click higher upwind and tack well, but the Defender has jets downwind and loses less on the gybes. How to use these attributes, and hide any deficiencies, has become the name of the game.”
Where some observers are clear in their opinions and analysis, others are still holding back on making any assumptions from the first two days of racing.
“After having watched a day of racing in TNZ’s apparent favoured conditions on Wednesday and one in Luna Rossa’s conditions today we can confidently say that we know nothing about how this regatta is going to unfold,” Ben Gladwell wrote for Sail World.
Meanwhile Yachting World’s Matthew Sheahan was left feeling completely stumped after Friday’s races.
“I am going to need therapy after this America’s Cup. In 30 years of covering events as a journalist/commentator I can’t think of one that has so consistently delivered the opposite to what was expected.
“The bottom line is that after two days and 4 races we are as good at predicting the outcome as we are the weather.”
However, what all of the above pundits agree on is that this series is set to go down to the wire.
“Two different America’s Cup teams, two different AC75s, two different races, two different sailing styles and two different race winners. This Cup looks set to be very close indeed,” Heppell added.
“This arm-wrestle for the most prestigious trophy in world sailing is looking more and more like a classic,” Ed Gorman wrote for The Times.
While Chieffi summed up the thoughts, and possibly hopes, of many onlooking fans.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we hit 6-6.”
Enjoy smooth sailing to the Cup with Auckland Transport
• Avoid traffic congestion and parking niggles and download the AT Mobile app to plot your bus, train or ferry ride to race venues before you leave home.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride to the Cup
• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup
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