Team NZ confirm Louis Vuitton Cup final spot
Team New Zealand have confirmed they will exercise their right to go straight to the Louis Vuitton Cup final, squashing speculation they may veto that to seek extra racing in the semifinals of the challenger series.
Skipper Dean Barker made the announcement at an America's Cup press conference in San Francisco today, an hour after thrashing Italian challengers Luna Rossa for the fourth time.
The Kiwis had already finished top of the round-robin phase of the challenger series, putting them in a position of strength.
They had the options of either going straight into the best of 13 Louis Vuitton Cup finals on August 17 or opting to race either Luna Rossa or comeback challenger Artemis Racing in the semifinals, a best of seven series starting on August 6.
Barker said the syndicate, which has been turning heads with their slick performances, had thought hard about how to use the time between the end of the round robins and the final.
They believe there is better profit in them trying to squeeze more out of their package through development than racing.
It appears a wise decision, given the one-side racing they have been dominating over the last month.
They need to have the boat firing for the challenger finals and to be in the best shape to take on Oracle for the America's Cup if they qualify, as expected, for the main event in September.
"We weighed up whether to race the semifinals and get more race practice on the course but not knowing if Artemis would be ready to start, against spending more time on developing the boat," Barker said.
Without going into any detail, Barker said a number of subtle changes - some cosmetic and other improvements in various components - were in the pipeline which should "make us significantly faster around the course."
Barker said the team would not race against Artemis on Wednesday - the team's last scheduled round robin race - and would use the time to work on the boat.
It leaves Luna Rossa and Artemis to fight out the semifinal.
The Italians have been struggling for speed against the Kiwis and now face an unknown quantity in the Swedes who launched their second boat last week and have been busy getting to grips with it, including foiling.
Artemis' first AC72 was demolished in a May 9 training capsize that killed crew member Andrew Simpson.