Yachting: Team NZ to skip semis

Emirates Team New Zealand has exercised its option to skip the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals and go straight to the final.

The option was available to the team by virtue of its top position on the round robins leaderboard.

The team's decision ensures a semifinal match between the Italian Luna Rossa and Swedish team Artemis Racing.

Artemis is back sailing an AC72 on San Francisco Bay following a fatal training accident in May and has yet to start, but has said it intends to compete in the semifinals.

Skipper Dean Barker told a press conference at San Francisco today that the team had thought about how to use the time between the end of the round robins and the final.

"We weighed up whether to race the semifinals and get more race practice on the course but not knowing if Artemis would be ready to start, against spending more time on developing the boat."

Without going into any detail, Barker said a number of subtle changes - some cosmetic -and improvements in various components, which should "make us significantly faster around the course."

Barker said the team would not race against Artemis on Wednesday (NZT) - the team's last scheduled round robin race - and would use the time to work on the boat.

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