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Emirates Team New Zealand dominate on day 2 in Jeddah, to qualify for match race final

by Emirates Team New Zealand 1 Dec 2023 15:08 GMT 1 December 2023
Emirates Team New Zealand - Day 2 - Preliminary Regatta - Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - December 1, 2023 © Ian Roman / America's Cup

The story of the day was Emirates Team New Zealand again being dominant winning two races, as well as second place which was enough to secure their place in tomorrow's match race final with two fleet races yet to race at the America's Cup Preliminary Regatta Jeddah presented by NEOM.

In simultaneous fashion the breeze and the intensity ratcheted up significantly on Day 2 with some of the best racing seen in the AC40's, recently named "boat of the year" at the World Sailing awards.

In the fresh Northwest wind up to 16 knots, every metre gained was a metre lost by another boat with some of the closest crosses seen in sailing and the best sailors in the world flying around the racecourse at over 40 knots of boat speed. Points were at a premium, and every place counted in every single race.

"It is awesome," said Peter Burling "as a sailing team all you want is tight racing, and you cannot get closer racing than that."

"We had some incredible races with Prada in the first two races and with Alinghi Red Bull Racing and American Magic in the last one. But it was awesome to get a couple of wins and a second for our confidence going into the final day tomorrow."

The resumption of the age-old battle between Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand, was an early talking point, the first race saw Luna Rossa get its nose in front, with American Magic and Emirates Team New Zealand bow to bow, cross for cross all the way around the six-leg course. Following Luna Rossa, the kiwis getting a better last gybe into the finished to take a hard fought second place over the Americans who came out firing after their nightmare first day.

The second race of the day won by Emirates Team New Zealand by just 4 seconds over the hard charging new look Italian crew helmed by the young duo of Tita Ruggero and Gradoni Marco, who are rapidly making themselves knows in the America's Cup circles here in Jeddah.

Race three was another drama filled race with the first three boats on a string, cross for cross, Emirates Team New Zealand again winning the race by a matter of seconds over NYYC American Magic and Alinghi Red Bull racing.

"This is what we have been waiting for with these AC40's," explained Nathan Outteridge, Port Helmsman on Emirates Team New Zealand.

"The conditions were near perfect, and the racing spectacular, which would have been great for the spectators, but it was a real battle for all of the sailors on the water."

It will be a big final day of racing on the Red Sea tomorrow with similar conditions expected.

Standings after Day 2:

1. Emirates Team New Zealand, 49pts
2. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, 38pts
3. Alinghi Red Bull Racing, 27pts
4. INEOS Britannia, 22pts
5. NYYC American Magic, 16pts
6. Orient Express Racing Team, 14pts

www.americascup.com

RACE FOUR

In even conditions across the racecourse, it was the kind of race that the AC40 was designed for. The pack started by dialling deep into the start-box on port tack before picking their lane back for the time-on-distance into the line on sytarboard. NYYC American Magic had the bit between their teeth and nailed the pin end of the line and headed out to the port boundary with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli whilst Emirates Team New Zealand and INEOS Britannia started mid-line together with the Kiwis quickly squeezing the British and forcing them to tack away.

On the entry to the top mark, American Magic squeezed Luna Rossa from a leeward position and opened the door for an early lead, taking the starboard gate in first place whilst Emirates Team Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand took the port gate. The moment of the race was the first downwind leg with the Italians nailing a super-fast gybe on the starboard boundary and then 19-year-old Marco Gradoni calling the cross on American Magic on port gybe having found just a click more wind down the right (looking down the course) - gutsy call from a real coming talent of world sailing.

From there, Luna Rossa stole into a lead that gave them ultimate control of the race and with excellent front-running they made no mistakes, tacked where they wanted to in clear air, and gybed on the shifts downwind to the final gate. The delta between the Americans and Kiwis was closing up noticeably on the final rounding and on the beat to the final windward mark, it was the tussle of all tussles with the two splitting gates. A desperately close rounding and downwind ensued with American Magic going right and Emirates Team New Zealand to the left. Spare a thought too for INEOS Britannia and Alinghi Red Bull Racing who were dicing for fourth and fifth places and going bow-to-bow. On the cross up front, it was Emirates Team New Zealand on starboard who managed to get over the bow of the Americans and then built on the lead by a few boat lengths before the gybe back to port, finishing 26 seconds astern of Luna Rossa who secured a brilliant race win. Tactics, pace, power and total coolness under pressure, the Italians had it all. Outstanding. American Magic in third whilst INEOS Britannia secured 4th just metres ahead of Alinghi Red Bull Racing. Great, close-quarters racing.

Orient Express Racing had a boundary penalty before the start and after racing requested a five-minute delay due to an hydraulic issue.

RACE FIVE

The swell began to build ahead of Race 5 of the America's Cup Preliminary Regatta, presented by NEOM, and after a delayed start whilst the French battled hydraulic issues, the remaining fleet dialled down into the box again coming from above the line, gybing on to port before picking their spot for the lead back to the line. INEOS Britannia and Emirates Team New Zealand looked to make the best of it but were called OCS (over the line) whilst both American Magic and Orient Express copped penalties. With chaos in the pack, Emirates Team New Zealand hit the port boundary along with Luna Rossa and it was a drag race to establish the starboard tack advantage. Penalties were costly for the pack with the requirement to lose 75 metres of distance relative to the infringed yacht or incident and by the starboard lay line to the top mark it was effectively a drag race between Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa.

The Kiwis aced the final lay line in and rounded the starboard gate first whilst the Italians chose the port gate and it was all downwind with the Kiwis just squeezing into the lead in the first half of the run. Great moding and trim downwind kept the Kiwis ahead as they rose a high ride-height over the increasingly bumpy swell. At the first leeward mark, the Kiwis had made gains and elected for the port rounding with Luna Rossa taking the starboard gate with Alinghi Red Bull Racing giving chase in third. Luna Rossa played the left side of the second beat and seemed to be enjoying a wide cant angle and low ride, making gains on the Kiwis who were bouncing right. It was desperately close action all the way up and when the Kiwis allowed Luna Rossa to get to their right, it was the Italians who tacked back and took a brilliant lead at the second windward mark. The Kiwis were dumbfounded with the onboard comms desperately trying to analyse exactly what the Italians were doing better but the downwind was gybe to gybe with all eye on the lay line into the final leeward mark where the Italians took the starboard gate as the Kiwis took the port and it was a split tack start to the final leg.

Having both hit their respective boundaries and tacked, Emirates Team New Zealand crossed the bow of Luna Rossa early on the leg and let the Italians get to the right. A fatal error for the Kiwis as Luna Rossa seized the lead and then match-raced, tacking on the Kiwi bow and forcing them left. The Italians liked the right and looked to have serious height upwind with plenty of power. At the final windward mark, the Kiwis selected the starboard gate and the Italians took the port on an almost simultaneous rounding. Thrilling racing and set up beautifully for a do-or-die run to the finish. Early on, it was advantage Emirates Team New Zealand as the Kiwis crossed the bow on starboard gybe and set up for a port gybe lay line into the finish. Luna Rossa gybed out left and came back in on starboard but it was the Kiwis that kept the lead and crossed to win by just a 3 second delta. Alinghi Red Bull Racing secured third just ahead of American Magic with INEOS Britannia taking fifth and the Orient Express Racing in sixth. Another breath-taking race.

RACE 6

Emirates Team New Zealand got an absolute flyer of a start in Race 6, tacking beneath the fleet and gaining the port end of the line at full pace and headed out to the controlling port boundary. Luna Rossa were given a penalty for a close tack on Alinghi Red Bull Racing but it was the Kiwis having prime control, able to sail clean on the shifts, cross the course and hold the right side along with NYYC American Magic. Alinghi Red Bull Racing made a clean start and called the shifts well upwind to secure second place after NYYC Magic were forced to tack away to the right to clear the Kiwis. However at the top mark, it was the Swiss who called a genius lay line to the starboard gate and rounded ahead as Emirates Team New Zealand elected to take the port tack with American Magic who had squeezed around just in front. On the downwind on the right, the Kiwis gybed first and headed to the left side of the course in an attempt to keep starboard gybe advantage on the return gybe.

It was a genius call and the Kiwis rounded the starboard gate (looking downwind) in unison with the Swiss who took the port gate with American Magic close behind. Emirates Team New Zealand hit the left hand, port boundary before tacking back onto port but it was a losing tack as both the Swiss and Kiwis made big gains out right. Unfazed, Emirates Team New Zealand hit the right side of the beat and came back into the three-way battle, crossing American Magic and putting the pressure on the Swiss. Awesome racing. At the second windward mark, a loose rounding by the Swiss off the port gate saw a near splashdown with American Magic rounding close behind. The Kiwis made a smooth rounding at the starboard gate and it was all-on for the second downwind leg.

The Kiwis crossed the trailing duo in desperately close action but then fluffed the gybe back but somehow managed to stay ahead on a port lay line and took the port gate to lead by the slenderest of margins into the final upwind. American Magic had eked into second just a smidge behind but they Kiwis went right and built into the slenderest of leads with Alinghi Red Bull Racing back in third but in touch and the Italians chasing hard after their penalty in fourth. In the final quarter into the windward mark, it was a drag race to the lay lines with Emirates Team New Zealand taking the port gate just ahead of the Swiss whilst American Magic rolled the dice in second and took the starboard gate with Luna Rossa just behind. On the first cross downwind, Emirates Team New Zealand held a handy three boatlength lead and headed to the left side to set up for the starboard lay line into the finish, crossing American Magic with pace. At the finish it was Emirates Team New Zealand who secured the 10 points with American Magic in second. Behind there was a desperately close finish between Alinghi Red Bull Racing and Luna Rossa with an almost photo-finish at the end. The Swiss just shaded it for third place. Outstanding racing here in Jeddah and it is Emirates Team New Zealand who ultimately came out on top and lead the standings going into the final day.

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