Louis Vuitton Cup: Team New Zealand 'beat' Artemis

By Dana Johannsen, in San Francisco

Team New Zealand tactician Ray Davies said his team isn't sweating on the outcome of the jury hearing, as doing the job on the race track remains their sole focus.

The Kiwi team this morning collected their second point of the Louis Vuitton Cup, after another unopposed jaunt around the San Francisco Bay race course. They were scheduled to meet Artemis in their second match of the regatta, but with the Swedish team sidelined from the round robin stages as they battle to get back on the water after May's fatal capsize, Team New Zealand were left to go it alone.

The action on the water this week has been secondary to the ructions going on off it.

But while the America's Cup world eagerly awaits a decision from the international jury over protests by Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa, Davies said he and the rest of the crew isn't wasting any time worrying about the result.

"You never know which way it is going to go with the jury. It doesn't bother me, we just have to get on with it either way," said Davies.

Team New Zealand and the Italians have protested moves made by regatta director Iain Murray to change the AC72 class rule just a week out from the start of racing.

They each presented their arguments to the jury yesterday, with Artemis and defenders Oracle getting their chances to respond. America's Cup race management and the United States Coast Guard also had their say.

Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa believe Murray has exceeded his authority in seeking to change the design rule, and changes can only be made with the unanimous consent of all teams.

International jury chairman David Tillett confirmed today a decision is expected late tomorrow.

Emirates Team New Zealand crew again produced a slick display, instantly hitting their foils as they rocketed over the startline at 40 knots having judged the time and distance perfectly.

The team also managed to pull off several foil-to-foil gybes to ensure they lost very little boatspeed. In almost every gybe they were able to keep their speed above 25 knots all the way through the manoeuvre.

The reigning Louis Vuitton Cup champions completed the 16-nautical-mile racecourse in just over 45 minutes - about a minute faster than they completed the opening race, but could not beat Monday's top speed of 42.8 knots (nearly 80km/hr), with LiveLine recording an official top speed of 42.28.

Team New Zealand tactician Ray Davies said it felt like his team were generally sharper today than their first outing.

"We sailed a little bit better today for sure, we had a couple of bad gybes the other day, but there was also a bit more wind towards the end of the race. So there's a few variables there but it did feel like we sailed quicker today than the other day," said Davies.

"There were a couple of tacks that we could have done better but generally it felt pretty good around the course."

Dean Barker once again elected to sail the full seven-leg course, rather than the shorter alternative offered by regatta director Iain Murray. Barker said while they are once again without an opponent, they had to treat today like they would any other race day.

Prior to the race getting under way, Cup defenders Oracle were flexing their muscle on San Francisco Bay, taking both their AC72s out for a spin. With Olympic great Ben Ainslie, who is known for his aggressive sailing, at the helm of boat one to push Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill in boat two, Team New Zealand will be very nervous about their solo sailing programme through much of the early rounds of the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Asked if he was frustrated at seeing the defenders out there with two boats on the course, while they are left to sail by themselves, Davies was philosophical about the situation.

"It's a shame the other teams aren't quite ready to be out there with us. Hopefully that is the end of it as far as Prada's concerned and I really sympathise with Artemis' situation at the moment and I honestly wish them all the best for getting out there," he said.

The Artemis boat is undergoing structural testing at their Alameda base today, with the hulls of the boat being suspended upside down and various loads put through the boat.

"Hopefully by the end of the week we will have completed those tests and we can flip the boat upright and start putting it all together," said helmsman Nathan Outteridge.

The Australian Olympic champion estimates once those test are complete, it may still take up to 10 days to prepare the boat for sea trials.

- NZ Herald

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