America’s Cup 2021: Team New Zealand show resolve in race four win over Luna Rossa
If there was any doubt about the resolve, grit and belief on board Team New Zealand for the 2021 America’s Cup match, the answer was delivered in spades on Friday.
After dropping the first race, the defenders were trailing 2-1 on an afternoon with minimal breeze, supposedly ideal for the Italian boat.
Deep in the back of their minds, the defenders would have been aware of this weekend’s forecast, with more light winds, a range where Luna Rossa have thrived since December.
This wasn’t how things were meant to be playing out against the race-hardened but underdog Italians – and it would have been easy for doubts to creep in, in front of an expectant, but nervy nation.
But they stayed focused, with the afterguard of Peter Burling, Blair Tuke, Glenn Ashby, Josh Junior and Andy Maloney engaged in an extended planning meeting before the second race.
Then another setback, as they fell off their foils momentarily a minute before the start, like a winger dropping the ball with the line wide open.
But they recovered, gaining a fractional edge off the start then holding their nerve during a tense first leg, where the broadcast graphics indicated several small lead changes.
Te Rehutai earned a nine-second advantage at the top mark, before the Italians messed up a gybe at the end of the first lap, handing complete initiative to Team New Zealand.
“That was a really good race for us,” said flight controller Tuke. “It was a real bounce back for the guys there. We got off the start line slightly better than the race before. We just managed to get the jump on them before the boundary and managed to extend nicely.”
“Our boat was going really well even in the first race, we just couldn’t get clear. They kept [covering] right on us and we didn’t have much fresh air.”
“In the second race we got in front and it’s a lot easier without the wind shadows. You are free to look up the course and pick the shifts on your terms.”
Helmsman Burling said there was no panic among the crew between races – “there are a lot of people who have been in these situations before” – and said the series would continue to be a tight contest.
“I don’t feel like there is too much in it – it is going to be won by who sails the best,” said Burling. “We are improving all the time and they are definitely setting the bar pretty high and making us work hard.”
Burling agreed that port entry into the start box was an advantage – “it definitely makes your life a little bit easier” – though not impossible to overcome.
“It was great to get a couple more starts under our belts today,” said Burling. “It is definitely coming down to some pretty small margins and we are learning a lot all the time.”
Heading into the Cup racing?
• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the cup.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride.
• Don’t forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America’s Cup village.
• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.
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