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LVC Finals Start Tomorrow at One

Can Luna Rossa beat the lighning-fast Kiwis? For that matter, can anybody beat them?

© ACEA / Abner Kingman

With the clock ticking down to tomorrow’s first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals, the big question is: How much has Luna Rossa Challenge improved since their last match-up with Emirates Team New Zealand during the Round Robin series.

To the casual observer, it would seem that LRC’s crew work improved steadily during the team’s recent sweep of the LVC Semi-Finals (over Artemis Racing), and their boat seemed to be foiling more consistently than previously seen. But that’s not to say the Kiwis haven’t been improving also. Although not officially confirmed, skipper Dean Barker claims his boat set a new team speed record the other day in practice. 

Italian Skipper Max Sirena and Kiwi team leader Dean Barker wish each other luck. The same teams did battle during the LVC Finals during the last Cup.

© ACEA / Gilles Martin-Raget

In any case, tomorrow’s races (at 1:10 p.m. and 2:10 p.m.) should set the tone for the rest of this best-of-13 series. If the Kiwis clearly dominate, as they did in the early Round Robin races — with finish line separations of as much as seven minutes — the Italians may as well pack their bags (no pun intended). Except, of course, that with these boats, as with no others, the threat of catastrophic gear or structural failure is always a game-changing possibility. Although the Kiwis built two boats, our understanding is that their first is not a viable replacement, should anything happen to their principal warhorse. And the Italians only ever had the one boat, which is similar to the Kiwi’s first-generation effort.

Another wild card during Saturday and Sunday’s races may be light winds. One normally reliable source predicts only 6-12 knots along the Cityfront during the early afternoon — ironic, of course, after all the debate about top-end wind limits. 

As always, there will be big-screen video projections with live commentary at both the AC Village (on the Marina Green) and at the AC Park (at Piers 27-29). You can also hear commentary on VHF 20, and when the boats sprint beyond your view you can follow their progress in animation via the free America’s Cup smartphone app. Taped-delayed broadcasts of this weekend’s races can be seen on NBC Sports Network from 3-6 p.m. both days. (Video coverage should also be available after those broadcasts on the AC YouTube channel.)

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After more than seven years of being a fabulous member of Latitude 38‘s editorial team, LaDonna Bubak — not to be confused with Doña de Mallorca — is leaving Latitude at the end of the year to do what you’d expect: go cruising with her husband Rob on their Wauquiez 47 Gazelle.
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