Team New Zealand retained the Copa America on Wednesday, moving away from Italian rival Luna Rossa to claim the biggest prize in sailing its native waters off Auckland.
This is the second successive victory for a union representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, and the fourth victory in the finals since 1995 for a team from New Zealand.
It also marks the second consecutive victory for 30-year-old New Zealand captain Peter Burling, who has added another resume title that already includes nine world championships and Olympic gold and silver medals.
“This means the world to us and the team,” said Mr Burling, National Public Radio New Zealand, said after the race.
New Zealand’s victory in the race came two days after it seized momentum in intense competition by taking advantage of its speed advantage to win back-to-back victories on Monday. He won again on Tuesday and Wednesday, when he became the first to achieve seven wins. The final result in the competition was 7-3.
The Kiwi victory ended one of the most bizarre versions of the America’s Cup, which was first fought in 1851. This year’s races were held without large crowds of visiting spectators, many of whom were pushed back due to strict coronavirus restrictions that were effectively closing New Zealand’s borders to non-citizens. The race schedule also had to be revised several times to accommodate the strict and changing lockdown rules that sometimes forced a delay in the competition.
The arrivals were different from any of their predecessors, too. This year’s America’s Cup was contested by a new class of boats: a sleek 75-foot monocoque that – when raised from the water and ridden over the waves on spider-like foil – was able to reach speeds of up to 60 miles. hour. The boats didn’t cut through the water as much as they slid over him. And none of them have done so better than New Zealand.
“He deserves the champions,” captain Jimmy Spethyl said of his opponents after the series ended Wednesday, according to Radio New Zealand.
During the first six races of the Finals, the motto was simple: win the start, win the race. In each of these races, the team that first crossed the starting line was the first to reach the finish line. The drama-free race largely demonstrated the teams’ skills and precision of their boats, but it also led to an unwelcome accusation: The finals were boring.
That changed on Monday. Taking advantage of the shifting winds and unleashing speed that many suspected was yet to fully emerge, the New Zealand team jumped from the back to win successive races and broke a tie and gave the team a 5-3 lead. Kiwi has been added Fourth win in a row on TuesdaySuddenly the prize for years of planning and millions of dollars in investment felt close enough to touch.
“This team was in this position before,” said Berling, after winning one of the seven New Zealand teams who needed to win the title. “We just want to keep getting better, keep moving forward and we’re really excited about another race.”
Light winds forced the teams to abandon their second race on Tuesday, when New Zealand seemed poised for their victory, but that only postponed what many at the time considered inevitable. Even as Luna Rossa lamented another “painful” defeat on Tuesday, captain Francesco Bruni found no mistake in his side’s performance.
It looks like the New Zealand team was simply faster.
“I think we had a great race, honestly,” said Bruni. “no regret.”
Mike Ives Contribute to reporting.