Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge booked a match against Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton Cup Final when it completed a 4-0 sweep of Artemis Racing in the semifinal round of the America’s Cup Challenger Series.
The Italian team, led by skipper Max Sirena and helmsman Chris Draper, has lifted its game since the start of racing and now gets to meet its one-time training partner in the 30th Anniversary Louis Vuitton Cup Final.
“We learned tons in this series, it’s been invaluable for us,” said Draper, the 35-year-old helmsman from England. “Our team was a little down, it was tough (after the round robins). Our upwind speed has improved a lot and our general handling has improved. We had a bit of a shaky race today, we all were a bit nervous, but I still think we’ve improved tons in the racing against Artemis. I’m sure it’ll be valuable for us going forward.”
Artemis Racing put forth a valiant effort in this series. The team suffered the devastating loss of crewmember Andrew “Bart” Simpson on May 9 in an accident that nearly derailed the team. But it pulled together and after two months of working to strengthen its second AC72, the team launched the yacht on July 22 and went for the first sail on July 24. Two weeks later it entered the start box against Luna Rossa Challenge for its first race of the summer.
“I’m hugely proud of our team, it’s been a terrible period,” said Artemis Racing skipper Iain Percy. “First and foremost at this moment, my thoughts go to my teammates and to ‘Bart’ and his family. He would’ve been so proud of us, considering this is something that none of us thought we’d be able to do two months ago when we lost him. We’ve enjoyed every second because we knew what an achievement it was just to be out here.”
Facing elimination, Artemis Racing helmsman Nathan Outteridge took the action to Draper in the pre-start. Outteridge got a leeward hook on Draper and luffed him away into a tack. Draper tacked back to starboard with Outteridge still to his left.
Artemis Racing was penalized for a port-starboard incident when its starboard bow touched Luna Rossa’s port hull, although it appeared that Outteridge had his helm all the way to port trying to maneuver away.
“I told you he’s a punchy Aussie,” Draper said of Outteridge. “We knew they might bring it. It was a little bit marginal, and I’m pretty sure it went our way.”
Artemis Racing received two more penalties during the race, both for crossing outside the course boundary, and Luna Rossa was never really threatened the rest of the race.
The Louis Vuitton Cup Final begins next Saturday, Aug. 17, with two races planned.
Louis Vuitton Cup Semifinal Results
- Luna Rossa Challenge – 4
- Artemis Racing – 0
Race performance data
- Course: Seven legs
- Course length: 15.49 nautical miles
- Elapsed time: LR – 47:12; ART – 49:23
- Delta: Luna Rossa +2:11
- Total distance sailed: LR – 18.8 NM; ART – 19.6 NM
- Average speed: LR – 24.17 knots (28 mph); ART – 23.99 knots (28 mph)
- Top speed: LR – 40.82 knots (47 mph); ART – 42.05 knots (48 mph)
- Wind speed: average 15.6 knots; peak gust 19.3 knots
Upcoming Louis Vuitton Cup Final schedule (best-of-13 series)
- Saturday, Aug. 17: Final Race 1 (1:10 pm PT start time), Final Race 2 (2:10 pm PT)
- Sunday, Aug. 18: Final Race 3 (1:10 pm PT), Final Race 4 (2:10 pm PT)
- Wednesday, Aug. 21: Final Race 5 (1:10 pm PT), Final Race 6 (2:10 pm PT)
- Saturday, Aug. 24: Final Race 7 (1:10 pm PT), Final Race 8 (2:10 pm PT)*
(* If necessary)