America's Cup: Team NZ retire, hand Italy win

By Paul Lewis

Luna Rossa has made history today - taking their first point in America's Cup finals against Emirates Team NZ, thanks to an inexpensive battery pack.

The Italians levelled 1-1 in the first-to-seven Louis Vuitton Cup final yesterday after Team NZ were left dead in the water by a hydraulics failure as the Italians ran away with a gift victory delivered when Team NZ were leading them by 400 metres.

Team NZ worked hard to trace the fault, later named as a battery pack which powers the electronics which control the hydraulics for operating the wingsail and the daggerboards.
"Without the hydraulics, these yachts are unsailable," said tactician Ray Davies later. "You can't camber the wing or control the daggerboards."

Team New Zealand fixed the problem by replacing the battery pack with a new one but that meant they were technically disqualified for receiving assistance from their chase boat. Davies said they had to ensure their equipment was right; they did not want to add weight by carrying spare batteries.

Before that, it all appeared to be going to plan. Team NZ won a close start and produced a 10s lead at the short first mark. The boat speed of the Kiwis was apparent again on a hazy, choppy day on San Francisco Bay, gybing faster and producing superior sailing in avoiding the worst of the currents while finding the best of the wind.

They led by 23s at the second mark, with the Italians noticeably quicker than they had been in the round robin contests, where they sometimes trailed in over five minutes behind.

It looked like, after the gear breakages yesterday (when the Italians had daggerboard problems) and Team NZ's spectacular nose dive, that order would be restored. Emirates Team NZ seemed to be continuing their plain sailing towards a date with Oracle Team USA in the America's Cup match.

But they slowed uncertainly on the way to the third gate with the hydraulics cutting out. At the time, they had a 400m lead over the Italians and were demonstrating some sizzling speed upwind, their hulls not quite fully foiling but hulls dancing lightly over the chop.

Aas they approached the third mark, the increasing lead turned into diminishing hopes.

The hydraulics failed, the boat halted and the Italians, scarcely believing their luck, swooped past - ironically pulling off a good turn to speed away while the helpless Kiwis sat watching.

ETNZ then gave up on that race, instead readying the yacht for the second race of the day - scheduled for 9.15am NZT. But that race did not go ahead because the wind exceeded allowable limits.

"It's not the way we would like to win points but I was really happy with the way were sailing," said Luna Rossa helmsman Chris Draper.

"We had a problem with the hydraulics and you can't tack or gybe without them," said ETNZ skipper Dean Barker. "It's the nature of these boats unfortunately - there are so many things that can go wrong and today it was a problem with the hydraulics.

"We have been very fortunate so far not to have had many issues until today but I guess this just reinforces the need to be 100 per cent."

- NZ Herald

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