'It's like they're in a different boat' - Team NZ's breathtaking win

Author
Christoper Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 15 Mar 2021, 5:12PM
Emirates Team New Zealand v Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Emirates Team New Zealand v Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

'It's like they're in a different boat' - Team NZ's breathtaking win

Author
Christoper Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 15 Mar 2021, 5:12PM

Team New Zealand are three wins away from retaining the Auld Mug.

Looking at the final result of race seven on Monday afternoon, a 58-second win for the Kiwi crew, you'd be forgiven for thinking everything went to plan for them – but the end didn't do justice to the story.

Luna Rossa got the better of the Kiwis off the starting line and built their way to a nine-second lead around the first gate.

The Italians looked comfortable through the first two legs, extending their lead by a second through the second gate, before a tactical error allowed Team New Zealand to position themselves to strike.

Midway down the third leg, the Cup match saw its first lead change in seven races, as Team New Zealand worked into a position to take the lead - sailing much of the race with two or three knots more speed than their Italian counterparts.

The speed advantage could perhaps be attributed to the sail choice of each team, with Team New Zealand opting for a smaller jib sail than that of the Italians which ultimately better suited the conditions.

At the start of the race, that jib selection would have been a tough call as the conditions floated around the 10knot range. Ultimately, Team New Zealand were rewarded for their choice as they simply sailed away from Luna Rossa on the third leg and didn't look back.

"Every race is big, especially getting to this late part of the regatta," Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling said.

"We're really pleased with the way we're learning. We almost got them at the start, I'm not sure how much was between the boats there, but they got that little jump and we managed to keep digging deep and give ourselves an opportunity up that second beat.

"Now we're just taking it one race at a time, and trying to back it up in this next one is the key. We got the last right shift of the breeze...the really pleasing thing for us is putting the things we have talked about and done in practice into action."

AUT sailing professor Mark Orams said it was a big win for the Kiwis.

"They blew the start, put the pressure on, got a pass on leg three upwind...stormed off for a massive victory. This is a big statement in the context of this America's Cup."

Olympic gold medallist and sailing commentator Shirley Robertson said the first lead change of the Match was a "massive deal" for Team NZ.

"Not just for the team, but for the shore team as well and the fans.

"I think they've known they had the potential to have really, really good speed but have been frustrated and unable to show it. But today, it's like they're in a different boat.

"They've had the freedom to really put the pedal down. And goodness, that's a massive speed difference. Pretty much unstoppable in these kind of winds. So impressive."

Gate margins
Gate 1: LR 8sec
Gate 2: LR 10sec
Gate 3: NZ 19sec
Gate 4: NZ 29sec
Gate 5: NZ 48sec
Final: NZ 58sec