SAN FRANCISCO Two sailing powerhouses that have spent the summer trading verbal jabs are finally set to meet in the ultimate grudge match the 34th America's Cup.
Emirates Team New Zealand zipped through a thick fog and past Italy's Luna Rossa one last time Sunday, capturing the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series 7-1 and advancing to the premier event against defending champion and bitter rival Oracle Team USA. The best-of-17 America's Cup starts Sept 7.
"It's really important. I mean, it's really important," said Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton, who also serves as a grinder at the age of 56. "The team understands that. When you give a speech to a yacht club here in San Francisco, the one thing my granddad always taught me is you don't start a speech with an apology, and I always do start with an apology. The only reason we're in San Francisco is to take the Cup away."
The Kiwis crushed the conditions and the competition in the challenger finals.
The closest margin was 1 minute, 28 seconds, and Luna Rossa's lone victory came when Team New Zealand dropped out because the electronics system that controls the hydraulics of its catamaran failed.
The Kiwis won the final race the lightest wind of the series thanks to a fog that blanketed San Francisco Bay by the largest margin: 3:20.