With the first two America’s Cup races done, both teams have points on the leaderboard, this is not what the Kiwis expected, they have a race on their hands!
With Emirates team New Zealand taking the first race with a 31 second lead, after winning the start, it looked like the pre-race dock talk was right . . . ETNZ had a speed edge and Luna Rossa were going to struggle.
ETNZ had a 1+ knot speed advantage upwind and downwind in race 1, although Luna Rossa took maximum speed at 48.01 to the Kiwis 46.90 knots.
So far, so good, but then in race 2 it was all change as Jimmy Spithill nailed the start, Luna Rossa crossing line with a 90 metre lead.
Burling tacked away to the right and Luna Rossa covered, and it was match-race time up the first windward leg.
Luna Rossa rounded gate 1 with a 13 sec lead. Luna Rossa sailing fast and smooth opened a 400+ metre lead and although the Kiwis were able to close it down on the final leg, Luna Rossa took a 7 sec win.
Luna Rossa just had the speed advantage upwind, but ETNZ were faster downwind and took maximum speed at 51.11 knots.
Game-on and day 1 has not disappointed with Defender ETNZ and Challenger Luna Rossa tied after two races.
This could just be the series that everyone wanted, on this evidence they are closely matched and the 36th Cup looks likely to go the distance
Jimmy Spithill commented at the end of the day, “We just kept the boat going well, and it was a good sign of strength to bounce back after that first race.”
“I think it was one of those race tracks where the lead boat had the advantage – picking the time to tack or gybe. It is great to be competitive!”
For Peter Burling, it was an honest appraisal of race 2, “We didn’t get the best start, not quite doing the best job of the roundup, and ending up skidding sideways and falling into them – which was a shame, and we looked a bit rusty there.”
“What was really good was to be able to get back into them on that last beat. It is no secret we haven’t raced for a while – it was great to get the first win, but one mistake and life is pretty hard for the rest of the race.”
There is now a lay-day and racing resumes on Friday 12 March at 16:15 hrs NZT (03:15 UK) and continue through Saturday 13 March until either Emirates Team New Zealand or Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli reach seven wins. Weather and Covid restrictions permitting.
Auckland’s Covid crowd restrictions are expected to be eased by the weekend and should result in a huge jump in viewing numbers at the Viaduct.
Viewing AC36 in the UK:
BBC2 TV in the UK is showing the second day of racing – Fri 12 March – from 03:00 hrs UK. It is then available BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website.
All the AC36 matches are being shown live on Sky TV between 03:00 and 05:00 hrs UK time.
The Sky channel is either Sky Mix, Main Event or Sports Action, depending on the day.
The America’s Cup YouTube channel also has a free live stream in the UK.