It’s been long anticipated and taken nearly a week longer than it should have. But on Saturday afternoon at 12:15pm PT, fans will be treated to Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge lining up in anger on the start line of the Louis Vuitton Cup.
This will be the first head-to-head match up of the Louis Vuitton Cup, America’s Cup Challenger Series, and features two teams who know each other well. Luna Rossa purchased an AC72 starter kit from the Kiwis and the teams trained together for months in Auckland before relocating to San Francisco.
“We’ve raced a few times in New Zealand and have practiced together here, but we’ll see what it’s like tomorrow,” said Italian skipper Max Sirena. “For sure the Kiwis are pretty strong.”
Seeing two AC72s approaching the starting line at closing speeds akin to driving on the highway isn’t for the faint of heart. Sirena says the pre-start and the first reaching leg down to the turning mark off the America’s Cup Village at Marina Green will be intense.
“It’s going to be exciting. Imagine the entry into the starting line,” he continued. “We’re going to be coming in at close to 40-knots (46 mph) to the pre-start. We have to make sure the two boats cross each other and don’t crash. It’s going to be exciting, for sure, to see the start and the first leg.”
Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa have both won points by sailing unopposed on the Louis Vuitton Cup race track, as their scheduled opponent, Artemis Racing, continues efforts to get back on the water following a capsize in May. Now, they’ll be racing each other in the first of four scheduled matches between now and the end of the month.
The Kiwis have hit top speeds in excess of 43 knots over the past week as they’ve sailed the course alone. It’s made for an impressive display that has attracted the attention of the challengers and defender alike.
“We all know Team New Zealand are the class act at the moment,” said Ben Ainslie, helmsman for ORACLE TEAM USA, after seeing footage of the Emirates squad racing around the course this week. “They look incredibly slick and well practiced. We’re very impressed by them as a team.”
The action on the water is but a small part of the program at the America’s Cup on Saturday.
America’s Cup Park Schedule
10:00am - America’s Cup Park opens to the public
10:00am - AC72s on moorings off America's Cup Park Promenade
10:15am-10:45am - Marching band through Park to Presentation Stage
10:45am-11:15am - Dock Out Show at Presentation Stage
12:00pm - 1:00pm - “America’s Cup Show” with Andy Green & Tucker Thompson
12:15pm - Live Racing starts: Luna Rossa vs. Emirates Team New Zealand
1:30pm - 2:30pm - America’s Cup Trophy on display, Flying on Water
2:00pm - 2:30pm - Poster Signing with team representatives
2:30pm-3:30pm - America's Cup Trophy on display, at the 'A', Main Entrance
3:00pm - 6:00pm - Live Entertainment – The Sam Chase, Down and Outlaws, Mahgeetah, at the America's Cup Pavilion
7:00pm - America’s Cup Park closes (Sports Bar, PUMA remain open until 11pm)
America's Cup Village Schedule
10:00am - America's Cup Village Opens to the public
11:00am - 11:45am - America's Cup on display at the America's Cup Village - get your photo taken with the oldest trophy in international sport
11:15am - Fly-by of the Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa boats at the America's Cup Village
11:15am - 12:00pm - Live pre-race commentary by Bob Billingham and Tom Ehman
12:15pm - 1:00pm - Live Racing with commentary
1:00pm - 1:15pm - Post-race run-down with Bob Billingham and Tom Ehman
1:15pm - 6:00pm - Videos playing on the Big Screen, Music
6:00pm - America's Cup Village Closes