Team NZ secure Louis Vuitton Cup finals spot

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 08:23 24/07/2013
Team NZ
Reuters
FINALS BOUND: Team New Zealand have secured their spot in the Louis Vuitton Cup finals series.

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Team New Zealand completely outclassed Luna Rossa in their third America's Cup encounter today, crushing the Italians by more than seven minutes in San Francisco.

The win assured Dean Barker's crew a place in the Louis Vuitton Cup final.

The devastating loss left Luna Rossa contemplating how they can make up ground against the Kiwis and will also have them wondering if they have enough speed to see off the under-prepared Swedish syndicate Artemis Racing who are looking to enter the fray in the challenger semifinals.

This was a thumping win for the Kiwis. The 7min 14sec margin was easily their biggest of the regatta following 5min 23sec and 2m 19s victories.

But today's race was essentially over when Team New Zealand got more than five minutes ahead of Luna Rossa on the fifth leg, eliminating the Italians there under the rules.

The boats kept charging on with New Zealand's lead and the Italian's embarrassment increasing.

In steady winds of 16-19 knots, Team New Zealand hit a high speed of 41.16 knots compared to Luna Rossa's 38.61 knots.

Luna Rossa's problems started even before the race. With a very low tide in the bay, they were grounded in the mud on the tow-out and had to stop and repair a damaged rudder.

Their day didn't get any better.

Barker cleaned out Chris Draper at the start, rolling over the top of Luna Rossa and forcing the Italians into their dirty air.

That saw the Kiwis streak clear over the start line and by the end of the first short leg, they had already opened up a 21sec lead - the race was as good as over.

That was confirmed when Team New Zealand more than doubled their lead on the first downward leg and steadily built on that as the race progressed.

Team New Zealand rested chief executive Grant Dalton from the crew for the first time in the regatta as they continued their rotation policy. Winston Macfarlane took his place as a grinder.

Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa are set to meet again on Monday.

Team New Zealand's lead at the marks:

1: 21sec

2: 1m 3sec

3: 3m 29s

4: 4m 3s

5: 6m03s

6: 7m 05s

Finish: 7m 14s

Team New Zealand crew list: Skipper: Dean Barker, Tactician: Ray Davies, Wing trimmer: Glenn Ashby, Trimmer: James Dagg, Bow: Adam Beashel, Pit: Jeremy Lomas, Grinders: Chris Ward, Rob Waddell, Winston MacFarlane, Chris McAsey, Floater/Grinder: Derek Saward.

Luna Rossa crew list: Skipper/pit: Max Sirena, Helmsman: Chris Draper, Tactician: Francesco Bruni, Wing trimmer: Xabi Fernandez, Trimmer: Pierluigi de Felice, Bow: Nick Hutton, Freestyle: Marco Montis, Grinders: Lele Marino, Giles Scott, Simone de Mare, David Carr.

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