Emirates Team New Zealand has moved to match point against Artemis in the Louis Vuitton Challenger Final, but not without apologising to their fans for stressing them out with a dramatic climax to day two.
Holding a big lead coming into the last leg of the third race, a mistake by helmsman Peter Burling almost let the Swedish boat through, before the Kiwis recovered to squeeze over the line just one second ahead.
“It was the end of what had been a really tough day for us, we ended up on the wrong foils and really battled away and we battled right to the end of that race,” said foil trimmer Blair Tuke. “We did a really average gybe and struggled to get the starboard dagger board down. And then we finally got going and only beat them by half a length. Sorry for giving you a heart attack. We were trying our hardest!”
Burling reckoned he owed the supporters a few beers after his slip up but said it showed how tight the racing is.
The day had begun with Emirates Team New Zealand opting to go with a light air set-up based on the weather forecast. Artemis chose a heavier air configuration which paid dividends in the first race when the predicted 8 to 10 knots breeze failed materialise. Instead a 15-16 knot wind saw Artemis enjoying supremacy right around the track with a convincing 15” start-to-finish win which took them to 2-2.
For race two, though, the breeze dropped to around 10 knots and the Emirates Team New Zealand set up came into its own. The Kiwis made the most of their better manoeuvrability and extra pace to haul the Swedes back and go to 3-2.
“We have shown all the way through that we have had to fight from behind a bit, and today we were no different,” said Tuke.
“We were really doing it tough not having the speed on the reach and on the downwind but we were going really quick upwind and just kept our cool and tried to wait for our opportunities to pass when we knew we had the speed. Really awesome effort by the boys. It could very easily have gone the other way today to be 4-2 up is pretty solid.”
Emirates team New Zealand are now one win away from the America’s Cup Match.