Yachting: Team NZ set new speed record

By Paul Lewis in San Francisco

Emirates Team NZ set a new speed record in their solo sail in the America's Cup today.

They broke the previous fastest speed when they touched 44.15 knots yesterday, registering their fifth point in the Louis Vuitton challengers' regatta. That's not quite 82 km/hr, achieved in winds of 18-20 knots at the high end of the allowable scale for this racing.

Previously, however, Oracle's two AC72 catamarans had been on the course practising against each other - and they too exhibited great speed.

Team NZ's crew work looked slick and they pulled off several foiling gybes - showing that their consistency in this key element of a race is growing. They also looked impressive upwind, averaging a quick 22 knots.

However, of more concern is the long-range forecast for Monday (Sunday in San Francisco) when Team NZ are due to take on Luna Rossa again in the second two-boat race. The winds then could breach the new safety limits for the first time since the regatta started, meaning the race would have to be postponed to the reserve day on Monday (Tuesday in New Zealand).

Regatta director Iain Murray said: "We are watching Sunday and are quite concerned - but the wind limits are the wind limits and the currents are what they are. The planets are not wonderfully aligned right at this moment but we need to have a careful look at it and consider all parties."

Oracle will have its two boats out on the course practising against each other before the race - ironically, the teams can decide to train in whatever wind speed they consider safe but the race rules are now set in stone - before giving up the course to Team NZ.
The race will be held over the same five-leg course that Luna Rossa sailed on Wednesday, finishing three minutes outside the maximum allowable time (but being permitted to keep the point for winning the "race").

If no one is counting chickens ahead of the Louis Vuitton finals and the America's Cup match, there is plenty of Counting Crows. The group most famous for their song Mr Jones play a concert ( a double header with The Wallflowers, fronted by Jakob Dylan, son of Bob, who are best known for their song One Headlight) at the America's Cup Park tonight to a sold-out audience.

The gigs organised to supplement the racing have been successful so far and other acts include the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Weezer, 311, Steely Dan, Cheech & Chong, the Jonas Brothers, Sublime With Rome, Fall Out Boys and Lumineer.

- NZ Herald

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