New Zealand on verge of reaching America's Cup
AFPSAN FRANCISCO -- Team New Zealand moved within one victory of reaching the America's Cup finals on Saturday, their latest win giving them a 6-1 lead over Luna Rossa in the challenger finals.
August 26, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
However, the Kiwis will have to wait for a chance to clinch the series after Saturday's second race was postponed because of strong winds on San Francisco Bay.
Regatta officials rescheduled race eight in the best-of-13 Louis Vuitton Cup finals for Sunday because the wind was blowing in excess of the 22-knot limit.
Once racing does resume, Team New Zealand are poised to book their slot in September's America's Cup finals against defenders Oracle Team USA.
They further underscored their dominance in the Louis Vuitton Cup finals Saturday as they reached their fastest in-race speed to date in their AC72 catamaran — 47.18 knots at the third mark rounding.
That's equivalent to 54 miles per hour (87.3 kph) or 79 feet per second, and improved on their previous fastest of 44.15 knots.
“It's a shame we didn't hit 50,” said Kiwi bowman Adam Beashel. “It'd be nice to be the first ones to do that. We'll keep pressing on and get that before this event's over. We've gone close in practice, so hopefully we'll crack it.”
Helmsman Dean Barker, however, noted that at those speeds, and in Saturday's average wind strength of 18 knots with gusts of 21.4 knots, the spectacular but temperamental AC72s are an exciting challenge to sail.
“When the speeds increase the margin for error steering and trimming becomes less. You have to work hard to keep the boat in balance,” Barker said. “It's cool sailing. You're not going to have better sailing than this. Today was dead flat water, nice strong flood tide and good solid breeze. That's about as good as it gets.”
Italy's Luna Rossa also set a personal best of 43.46 knots but finished one minute, 58 seconds behind the Kiwis.