SAN FRANCISCO, August 12, 2013 — Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge will meet Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton Cup Final, when it begins on Saturday, August 17. The Italian team, led by skipper Max Sirena and helmsman Chris Draper, completed a 4-0 sweep of Sweden’s Artemis Racing in the semifinal round of the America’s Cup Challenger Series.
Emirates Team New Zealand, easy winner of the round robin races against Luna Rossa, expects Luna Rossa will be much more of a concern in the finals.
“Luna Rossa makes no secret of the fact that their strategy is to peak for the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup,” said skipper Dean Barker. “They are certainly heading that way. We think their upwind speed has improved considerably since we last raced them and crew work has gone up several notches.”
Now, both teams start with a clean slate, with no points accumulated. Two races will be held each day of the Louis Vuitton Cup Final, on August 17, 18, 21, and 24.
“We learned tons in this series, it’s been invaluable for us,” said Draper. “Our team was a little down; it was tough (after the round robins). We had a bit of a shaky race today, we all were a bit nervous, but I still think we’ve improved tons in the racing against Artemis. I’m sure it’ll be valuable for us going forward.”
Artemis Racing suffered the loss of crewmember Andrew “Bart” Simpson on May 9 in an accident that nearly kept the team from moving forward. After two months of working to strengthen its second AC72, the team launched the yacht on July 22 and went for its first sail on July 24. Two weeks later, it competed against Luna Rossa Challenge for its first race of the summer.
“I’m hugely proud of our team,” said Artemis Racing skipper Iain Percy. “First and foremost at this moment, my thoughts go to my teammates and to Bart and his family. He would’ve been so proud of us, considering this is something that none of us thought we’d be able to do two months ago when we lost him. We’ve enjoyed every second because we knew what an achievement it was just to be out here.”
The Louis Vuitton Cup Final will be broadcast on NBC Sports. Exact schedule available on the America’s Cup website.
Jill K. Robinson is an award-winning journalist and adventure seeker. Follow her adventures on dangerjillrobinson.com and Twitter @dangerjr. Jill is an avid kayaker and owner of Half Moon Bay Kayak Company.
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