America’s Cup to end tomorrow after ‘bizarre’ win?

Answering fans who’ve being complaining online that ‘whoever crosses the start first wins’, the eighth race in the America’s Cup has been hailed as the ‘most bizarre race ever’, with ‘nerve shredding’ ‘drama off the charts’ and ‘one of the most astonishing races in recent AC history’.

Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) have now claimed two victories over Luna Rossa and jump to a 5-3 lead. This means two wins tomorrow for ETNZ could see the cup won.

Drama all the way

In the opening race of today, ETNZ executed the first pass of the best-of-13 series, overtaking Luna Rossa on the third leg of the race and claiming a 58-second win.

In the second, ETNZ came off the foils midway down the second leg, allowing Luna Rossa to get well ahead.

Luna Rossa built a big lead but the light and inconsistent conditions meant she came off the foils and while the Italians were able to get around the third gate, the team couldn’t find enough pressure to get to a foiling speed. ETNZ caught up and created a lead of more than 2,000m, and bagged the second victory of the day.

“That is probably the most bizarre race I have ever seen. To be down by four minutes and win by four minutes,” says American Magic helmsman Dean Barker, according to the New Zealand Herald.

The drama was quite simply off the charts as ETNZ finally managed to put some distance between themselves and the plucky Italians of Luna Rossa, says Stuff, while Magnus Wheatley for Rule69blog called the race ‘nerve shredding’.

A ETNZ statement describes race eight as ‘one of the most astonishing races in recent America’s Cup history’. The statement puts the success down to ‘the resilience, skill and patience of the entire crew on Te Rehutai. Focusing on boat speed, they slowly accelerated, eased the boat out of the water, and kept it that way – fully aware that one mistake would mean painful minutes back in displacement mode trying to recover.’

Italians ready to fight

But the Italians are undeterred and looking forward to tomorrow’s racing which could determine the outcome of the America’s Cup.

“This team can do it,” says Jimmy Spithill, helmsman Luna Rossa. “Everyone pretty much wrote us off in the Prada Cup, but we only dropped one race. Everyone was talking about a whitewash in the America’s Cup but I take confidence in my team mates. We’re going out tomorrow with the gloves off and ready to fight. Everyone is hungry and enthusiastic. We want to get out there tomorrow, get a win on the board, and bounce back.”

Meanwhile, ETNZ’s helmsman Peter Burling says his team is still educating itself.

“We feel like we are learning and improving all the time. Going over our boat every inch to find ways to improve it. We keep our learning curve as steep as we can.”

Burling is feeling the joy of competing in front of a home crowd.

“There’s lot of excitement,” he says. “It’s amazing to be racing on home waters in front of magic fans.”

Fans already fighting

Those home fans, the challenger’s fans and those from the wider America’s Cup community are busy battling it online in the quest to find some agreement about the balance of luck, technology and skill.

“Waiting for a mistake or breakdown isn’t ‘racing’,” says one, while another asks asks “what part is luck and what part is better boat?”

“With games of chance, sometimes the fickle finger of fate plays against you,” says Magnus Wheatley for Rule69blog about the challengers. “They’ll be back in the gambling salon tomorrow and with the wind staying in the lower regions for the rest of the week, this just isn’t over by a long shot for the Italians.”

Images courtesy of Studio Borlenghi.

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