Louis Vuitton Cup: Emirates Team NZ confirmed as Challenger

Louis Vuitton Finals Race 8; Luna Rossa vs Emirates Team New Zealand

Emirates Team New Zealand won the Louis Vuitton Cup for a third time,in San Francisco, and has become the Challenger to contest the America's Cup, starting on September 7.

This was the eighth contest for the Louis Vuitton Cup, spanning a period of 30 years, and is recognized as being the longest runing sponsorship in any sport.

Sailing in moderate winds and heavy fog, the New Zealanders made no contest of the final race, leading from start to finish, and winning by a margin of 3minutes 20 seconds.

Luna Rossa's skipper, Chris Draper, was outclassed again by the match racing skills of Dean Barker at the start and Emirates Team New Zealand, and the Kiwis were never headed.

A heavy San Francisco fog shrouded the course, particularly at the top mark close to Golden Gate Bridge, prompting Dean Barker to comment as they crossed the line 'I can't see the first mark'. Normally it is just 40 seconds sailing distance, and the New Zealanders were pretty much flying on instruments for the course.

25/08/2013 - San Francisco (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - Louis Vuitton Finals Race 8; Luna Rossa vs Emirates Team New Zealand

Today the Code Zeros were bought into play on the downwind legs. Underlining their depth of training the New Zealanders did not fly a Code Zero gennaker on the second downwind leg, as the cross-over was marginal between the use of the sail and sailing with jib and wingsail alone. Luna Rossa did set their Code Zero, with Chris Draper making the call soon afterward 'we are slower than with the job only'.

Today was also a repeat of what had gone before with Luna Rossa sailing a greater distance - today the Italians sailed 459 metres more, and sailed on average, over a knot slower.

While the Italians seemed to take drubbing in this Final, time will tell as to their real place in the Regatta, and come the end of the 34th America's Cup they may well have been the second fastest boat in San Francisco.

What is not widely recognised is the fact that the Italians were up against the most successful sailing team in the world - with Team New Zealand having been competing since 1987 in the America's Cup, but also in the 2011/12 Volvo Round the World Race - placing second overall. Many members of the team have been with the team right through that period, as have key sponsors and supporters. In short it was a big ask - even for a team as experienced as Luna Rossa, and their previous rendition as Prada, who were the Challengers for the America's Cup in 2000.

The Italian intention was always to compete in the 35th America's Cup, and the 34th event was alwasy seen a stepping stone. Whether they continue with that course of action probably hinges on the outcome of the Match. But certainly they came into the America's Cup late, purchased a base design from Emirates Team New Zealand. However with a large design team engaged, they did make substantial modifications to the original, within the limits allowed.

On the credit side of the Regatta Luna Rossa did take one point off the New Zealanders - after the Kiwis suffered a complete power failure. The margins in this Regatta were less than in the Round Robin series where the Italians were twice scored as finishing outside the five minute time limit.

25/08/2013 - San Francisco (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - Louis Vuitton Finals Race 8; Luna Rossa vs Emirates Team New Zealand