New Zealand sets speed record for course 

click to enlarge Once again racing uncontested, Emirates Team New Zealand set a 44.15-knot speed record for the course and earned a point Thursday. - GILLES MARTIN-RAGET/ACEA
  • Once again racing uncontested, Emirates Team New Zealand set a 44.15-knot speed record for the course and earned a point Thursday.

In what is quickly becoming a familiar story, Emirates Team New Zealand earned another victory in the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America's Cup challenger series, on Thursday, once again racing uncontested around a shortened course.

New Zealand set a new speed record on the course, breaking the 44-knot barrier — topping out at 44.15 knots (50.8 mph) — for the first time in America's Cup history.

Trimmer Glenn Ashby, who was not on board the AC72, but followed along in the chase boat, said the team still has plenty of speed held in reserve. He said they've topped that speed "quite a few times" in practice, though he wouldn't say how much faster they've sailed.

"We'll just say it was quite a bit quicker than what we did today," he said.

New Zealand now has five points in the Louis Vuitton Cup's round-robin series, four of which came without facing an opponent. Luna Rossa Challenge has two, which also came in uncontested races when it was scheduled to face Artemis Racing, which is still working to repair its boat following an accident in May that claimed the life of team member Andrew "Bart" Simpson.

We may be closer to the end of these anticlimactic events, as Artemis could be less than a week away from getting back on the water, with a return to racing expected the following week.

Though some controversy has floated about following the dispute over regatta director Iain Murray's safety recommendations — which were struck down by an international jury July 11 — Artemis is reportedly ready to go whichever way the wind blows.

Among the main points in the disagreement was the type of rudders used by the massive AC72 yachts, which are making their first appearance in an America's Cup event. Murray said he believes a larger rudder than was required by the class rule would make the event safer, but the jury ruled he was not allowed to make changes to the requirements without the unanimous consent of the teams.

While the talk following the decision was of granting Artemis a special dispensation to use whichever rudders they needed to in order to get back on the water, Luna Rossa helmsman Max Sirena later said all boats should be racing under the same requirements.

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Ben Martin

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