Team Artemis in action at America's Cup trials
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Tuesday was the first day of racing for Sweden's Team Artemis in the run up to the America's Cup. They were knocked out of the competition early after May's deadly accident during a practice run.
Artemis is the sentimental favorite. After their strategist Andrew Simpson was killed in that May accident, it took a tremendous effort to get their second boat up and racing. The turnout was good for their first match between Italy's Luna Rossa and Sweden's Artemis Racing.
Artemis, with only 9 days of sailing on their new boat, actually won the start by a couple of seconds. And, the crowd cheered as they rounded the first mark ahead of Italy. "This is more competition. This is what should've been going on for the last month," Wayne Womack told ABC7 News.
For much of the last month, New Zealand dominated the Italian team. Now, the battle is between Italy and Artemis with the winner facing New Zealand -- not a happy prospect for either team.
Italy was so crushed by the New Zealand team their skipper said Tuesday that Italy is really looking past this competition and towards the next cup. "Our main goal was to try to put together a strong team to start, not from zero, for the next America's Cup," Max Sirena said.
On Tuesday, Italy lost the start but pulled out ahead on the first downwind leg and by the time the race finished, Italy was comfortable ahead of Artemis. Artemis' skipper said it was still better than his team expected. "I mean we exceeded all our expectations," he said.
But unless Artemis improves significantly over the next few days, it's not good news for the Louis Vuitton Regatta or the America's Cup. With each step, it appears the America's Cup will come down to Oracle versus New Zealand in September.
And after a month of non-competitive racing in July, the prospect of another month of blowouts is not a good one. Asked how he would rate this one, Sirena, an America's Cup veteran, replied, "Tough question."
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