America's Cup: Team NZ one win away from series

By Paul Lewis

It won't be today. Stronger-than-allowable winds caused the postponement on Race 8 and the almost certain victory of Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton Cup.

The much-awaited third lifting of the Louis Vuitton by Team NZ (they also won it in 1995 and 2007) will now have to wait until tomorrow with winds well over 22.3 knots (the allowable limit today) curtailing their series victory.

Earlier the Kiwis took their lead to 6-1 in the first-to-seven series and provided a new speed record, hitting a stunning 47.2 knots as they rounded a mark. That is over 87 km/hr and encroaching on the magic 90km/hr mark (48.6 knots).

But that wasn't the real story of this race - upwind speed was. With more wind around, the Italians were more competitive downwind.

But upwind, they were literally blown away.

The ability to sail quickly upwind is shaping more and more as the key to this 34th America's Cup. The Kiwis yet again won the pre-start and the sprint to the first mark but were only 27s ahead after the first downwind leg.

But it all changed on the big upwind leg. The Kiwis have been improving upwind all regatta and today they pulled away convincingly, using that semi-foiling style where the hulls only just kiss the water, reducing drag. They got the better of the tacking duels and rounded the third mark 1m 52s ahead, pulling out from a 200m lead to well over 700m.

"It's just awesome sailing these boats," said ETNZ skipper Dean Barker, happy with the performance but quick to add his usual caveat that they need to find more speed yet.
"It would be nice to get another race in. It was always going to be dicey for race two today but, if we can, we are up for it.

"Unfortunately, the wind is up to about 23 knots at the moment and we are in a windy part of the course. It's a matter of whether the wind is established in other parts of the course."

Racing will resume tomorrow with two races - if needed - to decide the series.

- Herald on Sunday

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