Kiwis vs. Italians: ‘Closing speeds of 50 knots’

Emirates Team New Zealand © Chris Cameron / Emirates Team New Zealand


Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge have been practice racing in Auckland and learning just how intense AC72 racing can be.

“You’re closing at 50 or 60 knots, 100 kilometers an hour. It’s pretty full-on,” says Kiwi skipper Dean Barker, describing pre-start encounters. “(But) what I’ve learned is that in these boats, there’s no way to be conservative. You’re safer when you’re pushing hard.”

“We’ve had some great racing with Luna Rossa,” said ETNZ tactician Ray Davies. “It really is a huge help for us. You can’t beat lining up against someone else and having a point to prove against your opposition.”

“It quickens the pulse a little bit and everybody just tries a little bit harder,” agreed team director Grant Dalton. “It’s the same in any sport; when you race, you just go a little bit harder.”

While the racing has been intense and the learning curve steep, the sailors say they are having the time of their life.

“It’s a lot of fun sailing the AC72,” said Davies. “I’m having the time of my life. The speed at which decisions have to be made and the physical aspect as well, it’s a real blast.”

“Epic day on the water sending it around the racecourse with ETNZ in proper breeze,” Luna Rossa helmsman Chris Draper tweeted last week. “The Cup is going to be unbelievable!”

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