America’s Cup 2021: Team NZ win the ‘most bizarre race’ in America’s Cup history

For anyone wanting more excitement from the America’s Cup Match, Team New Zealand provided it on the fourth day of the regatta.

In the two races on Monday, Team New Zealand achieved a couple of firsts for the Match at opposite ends of the success spectrum – yet managed to win both races to claim a 5-3 lead.

In the opening race of the day, Team New Zealand executed the first pass of the best-of-13 series, overtaking Luna Rossa on the third leg of the race and going on to claim a comfortable 58-second win.

In the second, it was disaster for the Kiwi crew as they came off their foils midway down the second leg, allowing Luna Rossa to get well ahead of them.

Team New Zealand looked to manoeuvre away from the Italians and appeared to sail straight into the dirty air of their opposition, losing all of their speed almost immediately.

It allowed Luna Rossa to build a big lead and appeared to have sent to race on an inevitable path, but the light and inconsistent conditions meant there was every chance for another twist in the tale.

That came toward the end of the third leg, when it was Luna Rossa who came off their foils and were forced to race in displacement. While they were able to get around the third gate, the Italians couldn’t find enough pressure to get their vessel to a foiling speed.

They copped four boundary penalties trying to find that speed, and in the time it took them to get going again, Team New Zealand had not only caught them but raced away to a lead of more than 2000m, and the race had been shortened from six legs to five.

The decision to shorten the course mid-race worked in Team New Zealand’s favour, as they were able to stay up on their foils for the remainder of the race and sail to their second lengthy victory of the day.

American Magic helmsman Dean Barker said: “That is probably the most bizarre race I have ever seen. To be down by four minutes and win by four minutes.”

American yachtsman and sailing commentator Ken Read said “this is sailing we’ve never seen before”.

“Whoever thought light air sailing would become so incredibly bizarre, interesting, fun to watch,” Read said.

“You have to be crushed for these guys (Luna Rossa). Great start, great first couple legs, one mistake. Hey, welcome to the modern America’s Cup.

“We’ve never seen anything like this before.”

In the first race, the Cup match saw its first lead change in seven races, as Team New Zealand worked into a position to take the lead on the third leg of the race – sailing much of it with two or three knots more speed than their Italian counterparts.

The speed advantage could perhaps be attributed to the sail choice of each team, with Team New Zealand opting for a smaller jib sail than that of the Italians which better suited the conditions in the opening race.

Ultimately, Team New Zealand were rewarded for their choice as they simply sailed away from Luna Rossa on the third leg and didn’t look back.

Race 8 gate margins

Gate 1: LR 16sec

Gate 2: LR 4min08sec

Gate 3: LR 4min27sec

Gate 4: NZ 4min06sec

Final: NZ 3min55sec

Race 7 gate margins

Gate 1: LR 8sec

Gate 2: LR 10sec

Gate 3: NZ 19sec

Gate 4: NZ 29sec

Gate 5: NZ 48sec

Final: NZ 58sec

Heading into the Cup racing?

• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the cup.

• Make sure your AT Hop card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride.

• Don’t forget to scan QR codes with the NZ Covid tracer app when on public transport and entering the America’s Cup village.

• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit

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