Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Yachting: Artemis vow to challenge again

Inspired by the grit and determination of his team, billionaire owner sets sights on future campaigns.

Artemis Racing lost the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals, but won the admiration of all involved in the sport. Photo / Abner Kingman
Artemis Racing lost the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals, but won the admiration of all involved in the sport. Photo / Abner Kingman

Artemis Racing owner Torbjorn Tornqvist has vowed his team's disastrous 34th America's Cup challenge will not be their last.

The Swedish team's regatta came to an end yesterday after just four races as Luna Rossa wrapped up the semifinals of the Louis Vuitton Cup with another straightforward victory.

Plagued by setbacks throughout their campaign, including the horrific training accident in May that claimed the life of crewman Andrew Simpson, yesterday's loss brought to an end the most troubled campaign in America's Cup history.

Tornqvist is determined Artemis Racing's story will not end there.

"Yes, that is my wish," Tornqvist replied when asked if he planned to challenge future editions of the Cup.

"Obviously it is difficult to say what will be the format of the next America's Cup. I see it that this was the first campaign, but not the last one."

The emotion in the crew was evident as they crossed the finish line yesterday, their thoughts turning to their fallen teammate. Since that tragic day, the team have worked around the clock - at great personal expense to Tornqvist - to rebuild their second boat.

The Swedish billionaire, who made his wealth in oil trading, has said little publicly since the accident but yesterday recounted his feelings of sadness and shock when he heard the news in Geneva.

Tornqvist flew to San Francisco two days later "not knowing what to do".

"Somehow, the team managed to raise up. First of all the shore team who built the boat, and then the sailors who were motivated to go out on that boat," he said.

"I know I asked a hell of a lot of them ... we worked another two months not knowing if we would have a boat ready to race. For us to come out on the first day of the semifinals to race, that was our victory."

Artemis simply hadn't had the time in the boat to be competitive. Their lack of confidence in their ability to manoeuvre it saw Artemis pick up two boundary penalties yesterday, while helmsman Nathan Outteridge also incurred a penalty in the pre-start when the boat's starboard bow touched Luna Rossa's port hull.

With Luna Rossa much more polished with their boat handling after a jittery start to the semifinals, they sailed to a two-minute, 11-second win to book their place in the finals against Team New Zealand.

Given the Italians were well-beaten by Team NZ in their round robin match-ups, few are holding out hope the best-of-13 Louis Vuitton finals will be a competitive series. Even Luna Rossa seem resigned to the fact they are outgunned.

"For sure we have improved a lot, but we are under no illusion that the Kiwis are very, very solid," said Luna Rossa helmsman Chris Draper.

Troubles and tragedy

May - Artemis struck damage even before their boat was launched after their 13-storey tall wingsail snapped in half when they were trialling it in the platform of an ORMA 60 trimaran.

October 18 - The team finally launch their first catamaran, only to incur structural damage to the front beam of the boat while undergoing tow-testing.

November 13 - Artemis went for their maiden sail in their AC72, their delayed launch meant they were only able to get through 17 sail days before January 30, 2013.

February 13 - Artemis lined up for a series of practice races against Oracle and it became immediately obvious the team needed to rethink their entire philosophy, with their non-foiling boat well off the pace of the Cup defenders. The team put the boat back in the shed for urgent modifications.

March 22 - The team return to the water with their revamped boat as they await the delivery of their second AC72.

May 9 - A tragic day for the Artemis team. In their final day of training the AC72 catamaran capsizes, killing crewman Andrew Simpson, who was trapped in the wreckage.

June 3 - The team's CEO Paul Cayard announces they've resumed their preparations for the 34th America's Cup and are busily preparing their second boat for launch in "a couple of weeks".

July 7 - The opening round of the Louis Vuitton Cup kicks off, with no sign of Artemis on the water.

July 25 - The team go for their first sail in their newly launched "Big Blue" as the round robin series in the Louis Vuitton Cup is drawing to a close.

August 7 - After just eight training days in their new boat, Artemis take the startline for the first time, lining up against Luna Rossa in the semifinals.

August 11 - The Swedish team's challenge is officially over, after being beaten 4-0 in the semifinals.

Finals schedule (all NZT)

Sunday, August 18
Race 1 _ 8.10am
Race 2 _ 9.10am

Monday, August 19
Race 3 _ 8.10am
Race 4 _ 9.10am

Thursday, August 22
Race 5 _ 8.10am
Race 6 _ 9.10am

Sunday, August 25
Race 7 _ 8.10am
Race 8* _ 9.10am

Monday, August 26
Race 9* _ 8.10am
Race 10* _ 9.10am

Thursday, August 29
Race 11* _ 8.10am
Race 12* _ 9.10am

Saturday, August 31
Race 13* _ 8.10am
(*if required, first team to seven wins)

- NZ Herald

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