For the third time in as many days, what began as a close race was suddenly over as quickly as it got started, as Luna Rossa Challenge suffered damage to their boat on the third leg of Monday's race, forcing them to withdraw and hand Emirates Team New Zealand a 2-1 advantage in the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals.
The teams crossed the starting line neck-and-neck, and stayed within about 100 meters of each other through the first leg. Coming around the third marker, Luna Rossa lost control of their sail when a control line broke at the bottom of the wing sail, and all that was left was for New Zealand to complete the course to claim the win.
Skipper Dean Barker said he felt his team was sailing well enough to earn the points either way. The competitors are still thirsty for some real competition, however.
“You never like to win when the other guys break down,” said New Zealand grinder Chris Ward.
The teams found themselves in opposite positions compared to Sunday's race, when New Zealand pulled out due to a failed battery pack in its hydraulics. Saturday, both teams suffered technical difficulties, but it was Luna Rossa who lost their ability to compete.
The breakdown for the Italian team came as they were in the midst of perhaps their best performance of the series. Skipper Max Sirena said he was very pleased with the prestart and the first two legs — so much so that he said he was very surprised that they could stay so close to New Zealand's level of performance.
That performance went for naught, however.
“It is getting massively frustrating,” Luna Rossa grinder Giles Scott said. “At the moment the racing's been governed on who can get around the course as opposed to who can win the races.”
High winds forced the cancellation of the second scheduled race, another trend that has spoiled plans each of the first three days of the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals. The weather spared Luna Rossa from having to suffer another loss, as Sirena said his team would not have been able to make repairs to its wing sail in time.
The teams will have a much-needed day off Tuesday, with the next pair of races scheduled to start at 1:10 p.m. Wednesday.