The Louis Vuitton Cup, the challenger series for the America's Cup, featured even less action on the water than usual on Thursday, as Luna Rossa Challenge requested a black flag race in the absence of its scheduled opponent, Artemis Racing.
That means Artemis was officially disqualified 10 minutes into the race, and Luna Rossa earned its fourth win without needing to finish the course.
Artemis was on the Bay, however, continuing its training program after getting its AC72 — dubbed “Big Blue” — out on the water for the first time earlier this week. With Emirates Team New Zealand already locked in as the winner of the round-robin portion of the Louis Vuitton Cup, all that remains is for the three teams to get more time together on the course, working out bugs and preparing for the semifinal and final rounds that will determine who faces Oracle Team USA in the America's Cup Finals in September.
The finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup will feature two races each day, meaning crews members must be ready to swap in and out of their roles in order to stay fresh. That makes extra time on the water with different team members essential to the preparation process.
For Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena, Thursday's run around the course was about getting ready for the next phase of the event.
“We did a few changes in the last few days in the boat shed and it looks like they're working pretty well,” he said. “I'm not going to say we're at the same level as the Kiwis, but for us, it's a learning process every day and the goal is to try to make a better performance of the boat. … Now our goal is to try to be ready to race against Artemis in 10 days time and we want to be able to be competitive there.”
It remains to be seen whether Artemis will participate in a race during the remaining round-robin matches. The first semifinal race is scheduled for Aug. 6 and Artemis is hoping that it can at least be ready by then.
“We'd like to hope Aug. 6 is achievable,” Artemis helmsman Nathan Outteridge said. “But we know how much work is ahead of us now and we don't have a lot of time. Each step will evolve and we'll try to keep moving as fast as we can.”