A party tonight and three days off for Dean Barker's champion Team New Zealand crew - but Las Vegas is off limits.
Team New Zealand completed a 7-1 blitzing of Italy's Luna Rossa to win the Louis Vuitton Cup final in San Francisco today.
That earns them the right to race Oracle for the America's Cup on September 8.
With almost two weeks till the start of that best of 17 series, Team New Zealand's slick catamaran is heading into the yard for further modifications over the next few days.
That will give the sailing crew a welcome break though the orders are to take it easy.
"We'll be kicking back. We've put a ban on ourselves for long distance travel ... none of the boys are allowed to go to Vegas. We're really keeping it simple over the next few days," Team New Zealand tactician Ray Davies said.
"Then we'll get back into a buildup towards the cup again.
"We'll have a party tonight and Deano will make a 'Dean Barker' of himself no doubt, and then we'll just be into a mellow few days off."
Barker said today's 3min 20sec victory over Luna Rossa was one of the more difficult because of the light winds and the fog.
"It was very hard with the changing breeze, coming in and out of the fog and the strong current," he said.
"But we are delighted. We came here to race for the America's Cup. To do that, you have to win the Louis Vuitton Cup.
"So it's a step on the way."
Team New Zealand have displayed plenty of both over the last couple of months.
Their demolition of Luna Rossa was only a matter of time.
Weather disruptions and gear failure in the second race, which gifted the sole win to the Italians, stalled New Zealand's charge.
But there was no denying them today as they took the major step forward in this troubled and prolonged regatta.
It is the third time New Zealand have won the Louis Vuitton Cup following successes in 1995 in San Diego and 2007 in Valencia.
They went on to win the America's Cup in 1995 but lost the Cup match to Alinghi in 2007, prompting Grant Dalton to forge ahead with this challenge and try to win back the America's Cup they lost on home waters in Auckland in 2003.
Barker said with many of the team having been involved in losing in 2007, there were lessons to be learned and a fierce determination to put that right this time.
"We came short in Valencia and we want to give it our all over the next few weeks to try to make that [dream] come true."
New Zealand have lost two Louis Vuitton Cup finals, in their debut in Fremantle in 1987 and in San Diego in 1992.
But this one was never in doubt.
They have been vastly superior to Luna Rossa, their training partners who they have shared technology and designs with, but limited their rivals to racing a first-generation boat.
Team New Zealand's second design has been both robust and fast in a variety of winds.
Today's race was held in the lightest winds of the regatta, 10-12 knots, with the course cloaked in fog. The boats even employed the Code O gennakers for the first time, adding the extra sail for power.
The fog presented some problems, as Team New Zealand tactician Ray Davies declared on the third leg: "I can't cover him because I can't see him."
But there was no need to worry - Luna Rossa were more than 1min 30sec behind with no chance of catching up. The gap simply increased as the race wore on.
Luna Rossa helmsman Chris Draper was again cleaned out by Barker at the start today, and never given a chance to recover.
It was a procession from there as the Kiwis marched to the finish line and the champagne that followed with the cup presentation.
There was only one other challenger in this Louis Vuitton Cup with Swedish boat Artemis never in the hunt following design disasters and the training capsize in May that killed crew member Andrew Simpson.
GRACIOUS IN DEFEAT
Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena was genuine with his admiration of Team New Zealand after the race.
"They did a great job in the prestart and a great job in the race today," Sirena said.
"They are a really, really strong team and I'm looking forward to see them racing in the match [against Oracle].
The question now will be whether the Italians, design and training partners with team New Zealand, help the Kiwis over the next fortnight.
With Oracle having the benefit of a two-boat in-house racing, team New Zealand would surely love to have some practice competition out on the San Francisco Bay.
The failed challengers traditionally throw their weight behind the official challenger and it would be a surprise if that didn't happen this time.
There has been plenty of ill-feeling by the Italians against Oracle and this whole America's Cup concept. They would surely love Team New Zealand to win and return some normality - and less expense - to the next regatta.
- © Fairfax NZ News