America’s Cup 2021: The vital factor that will decide whether Team New Zealand or Luna Rossa win the America’s Cup

The America’s Cup Match continues today with races three and four between Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa, with the score locked at 1-1. Michael Burgess analyses the key factor which will determine the victor.

Getting first blood off the start will continue to be the vital factor in the America’s Cup Match, especially if the racing can’t return to the stadium course off North Head.

That’s the view of Luna Rossa co-helmsman Francesco Bruni, after the opening day’s races followed a similar pattern.

Even though they were close contests, particularly the second race as Team New Zealand made strong late gains, the boat that grabbed the advantage off the line never let go.

That continued a trend from the Prada Cup final, where Luna Rossa converted their pre-start dominance into a 7-1 series victory.

“What’s happened lately is that last six-eight races we sailed they’ve been in pretty stable breeze, nothing like the south westerly on C course,” said Bruni.

“So that explains a lot, why the team who is leading the start was capitalising through the race. [When] the breeze is more shifty and patchy, you will see more passes.”

Like the Prada Cup final, racing is isolated to courses A and E under Covid-19 alert level 2, to discourage large gatherings.The harbour courses B and C offer more variability – due to the wind shifts, tides and currents – but aren’t an option.

That also means that the allocation of port entry for the pre-start is vital. Though there were myriad other factors, the teams on port entry on Wednesday prevailed in the starting duels.

“To use a tennis analogy, coming in from port is like it’s your serve,” explained TVNZ expert commentator Peter Lester. “Whereas coming in from starboard it’s like you are trying to break serve.”

For Lester, a two-time New Zealand Yachtsman of the Year who competed in three America’s Cup campaigns, it comes down to several factors.

As well as a 10-second advantage, the boat that enters on port only needs to do one gybe and then head back, with a timed run to the line.

“Whereas the boat coming in from starboard has to do two manoeuvres,” said Lester.

“They’ll gybe, then track over to the right. Then they have to decide; do they lead back – and are they going to be early, so they have to kill time – or do they go high, like Peter Burling did [in the second race] and come in at pace and try to be the windward boat? It’s a lot more complex.”

The situation is exacerbated by the two-minute pre-start period.

“Back when there was a five-minute pre-start there was more turns and it would balance out,” said Lester. “But at the moment, especially on these one-way tracks, if a boat wins from starboard it’s a big deal.”

Luna Rossa has port entry for race three today, which is set to start at 4.15pm, followed by Team New Zealand for race four an hour later.

With the 1-1 scoreline, both teams were positive ahead of a pivotal day.

“We haven’t raced for three months so it was great to get back out on the water,” said Team New Zealand helmsman Burling. “We have planned for a whole heap of situations and we are seeing which ones work, which ones don’t and how we want to build our strategy from here, so we are looking forward to the battle ahead.”

Luna Rossa co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill emphasised their profound gains since December.

“We have made a big step from the Christmas period,” Spithill told Newstalk ZB. “But that’s not done, that’s not it. Every day we go out to race these guys we are going to be able to learn and make the boat go faster.”

The long-range forecast indicated breeze of between six to eight knots on Friday, conditions that should suit the Italian boat.

“It will be interesting to check the performances in the light winds,” said Bruni. “Could be some surprise, could be different. I don’t believe there is going to be a lot in it, but it could be different racing for sure.”

Heading into the Cup racing?

• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.

• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride.

• Don’t forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America’s Cup Village.

• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit

Source: Read Full Article