More of the same. That’s good news for the Kiwis and bad news for Luna Rossa and the Italians.
Kiwis lead 3-0. Today was “hump day” for them.
Jesse James Spithill appeared today for the first four minutes of the prestart today. With the advantage of the right at the 5 minute gun and 8 knots of wind, he managed to keep Dean Barker off to the left, blocked from maneuvering. Then with 1 minute to go and his opponent trapped above the line, he mysteriously gybed away and went for the left end of the line. It was very hard for us spectators to understand this final minute of the prestart. In fact, Team New Zealand said after the race that they thought they were done for and suddenly found themselves getting the start they wanted at the right side of the line, albeit a bit slow. Pretty good considering they should have been shut out if not forced to take the left.
At the start, Luna Rossa was in fact going 10 knots and Team New Zealand was going 6. I fully expected to see Luna Rossa taking advantage of this small lead and tacking to take the right at that instant. But they opted to stay on starboard and a long straight line ensued. After 3 minutes, it was already too late for Luna Rossa to tack and cross. The lead was gone and TNZ was ahead and to the right. It only got better for TNZ from there. Race over.
I don’t want to minimize the fact that Team New Zealand is sailing very well. Terry Hutchinson is doing a masterful job. He keeps the clamps on Luna Rossa constantly, only splitting the necessary amount downwind to keep his air clear. Upwind his matches Luna Rossa’s every move and leaves no hope, no daylight, for Luna Rossa. The boat is fast and the crew has been perfect in every maneuver.
Then there is the speed part. It looks to me like Team New Zealand is a bit fast than Luna Rossa. I would say the advantage was more pronounced today in the 8 to 10 knots range. For me, this is 25% of the problem with 75% of the problem being the starts and getting the correct side of the course. Certainly the races are winnable for Luna Rossa. The start and the correct side are worth that much here in Valencia.
Another thing I noticed yesterday is that Team New Zealand heels 3 degrees more than Luna Rossa. A boat carries a certain amount of heel (power in the sail plan) if it can. The fact that TNZ can carry 3 degrees more heel without having helm problems tells me that the center of effort of the sail plan is more forward relative to the keel. This would help in accelerating after tacking as well. To make more power, you make your sails differently, maybe a bit fuller. You are able to keep the traveler up longer and therefore the boats just heels more which is ok because they are balanced for that.
Anyway these are just my suppositions from inside a box (TV studio) watching TV monitors. The guys on each team know the real story. Hopefully, for Luna Rossa, they have analyzed things and can make a few adjustments both tactically and performance wise. Otherwise this may be a very short series.