New Zealand picks up another solo race “win” in Louis Vuitton Cup 

The second day of competition in the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series looked like a replay of the first day: Emirates Team New Zealand sailed through the course alone.

Team New Zealand earned its second point of the regatta on Tuesday by completing another solo run on the water while its scheduled competitor, Artemis Racing, sat out the race to finish construction of its new boat.

“It’s a shame that the other teams aren’t quite ready to be out there with us,” New Zealand tactician Ray Davies said.

The Kiwis zipped through the 18.4-mile long course in 45 minutes, 28 seconds; shaving a minute off the solo time they posted on Sunday. The boat hit a top speed of 43.3 knots, almost 50 mph, in winds that peaked at 20 knots.

“We sailed a little bit better today, for sure,” Davies said. “We had a couple of bad jibes the other day.”

New Zealand opened competition on Sunday with a solo run because Italy’s Luna Rossa skipped the race in protest of a controversial safety recommendation issued by regatta director Iain Murray.

After Artemis Racing capsized its boat in May, Murray issued 37 safety recommendations, including a switch to larger rudder elevators, which allow the 72-foot catamarans to glide atop the water when the boats pick up speed. The Italian and New Zealand boats are challenging the recommendation, saying it gives Oracle Team USA a competitive advantage, and a five-member jury from the International Sailing Federation is expected to reach a decision on the matter today.

With the Italian boat on the sideline, New Zealand is the only squad hitting the water right now because Artemis is still a few weeks away from joining the competition. The Swedish team’s boat was destroyed in the May accident that killed two-time Olympian Andrew “Bart” Simpson.

“It’s looking doubtful for racing in July,” Artemis helmsman Nathan Outteridge said.

Outteridge said Artemis is in the process of beginning structural testing on its new AC72 this week and the boat won’t be in the water until the end of next week at the earliest. It’s likely the team isn’t going to join the regatta until the semifinals.

At this point, it’s unclear if the international jury’s decision is going to impact the number of teams who compete in the challenger series, but Outteridge said he expects everyone to stay on board.

“I’m pretty sure that common sense is going to prevail,” he said.

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Paul Gackle

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