SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — 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.
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.
This is the fifth time since 1995 Team New Zealand has reached the America’s Cup match. The only time it didn’t make it was 2010, which was a one-off between Oracle and Switzerland’s Alinghi following a bitter court fight.
The Emirates and Oracle teams aren’t even close to that cooperative. About the only thing both sides can agree on is the series should be close.