Kiwis stretch lead over Luna Rossa
Emirates Team New Zealand sails their AC72 near the San Francisco Ferry Building before the start of the sixth race of the Louis Vuitton Cup in San Francisco, California, on August 23, 2013. The Kiwis notched another convincing win over Italy's Luna Rossa to close in on a berth in the America's Cup finals.
The Kiwis won the sixth-race in the best-of-13 challenger series finals by one minute, 57 seconds to take a 5-1 lead. They need just two more victories to earn the right to challenge defenders Oracle Team USA in the America's Cup finals in September.
Two races are scheduled on San Francisco Bay on Saturday, when the powerhouse New Zealand team can wrap up the series.
Their only defeat to Luna Rossa came when a hydraulics system failure on their AC72 catamaran forced them to retire while leading the second race of the Louis Vuitton Cup finals on Sunday.
Mechanical breakdowns of the sophisticated but temperamental AC72s have featured prominently in the series, with the first two races both decided when one competitor was forced to stop.
"The boat's going well," said New Zealand skipper Dean Barker. "We have our modes figured out reasonably well across the range.
"We're always learning," added Barker, whose team were barely threatened and took the opportunity to practice hydrofoiling upwind.
"It's quite interesting the way the boat responds in different conditions. We just have to keep improving and get consistent with the right mode calls for the right time and how it factors in on the course," he said.
The Kiwis and Luna Rossa started fairly even, but New Zealand were to windward and sped away to lead by 10 seconds at the first mark rounding and built their advantage from there.
Luna Rossa helmsman Chris Draper acknowledged that New Zealand are simply the faster boat.
"It would've been nice to have had a better start," Draper said. "We can talk about the start as much as we want, but the cold reality is they're going to sail past us whether they're to windward or leeward."
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