| Yachting News | Sunday August 4 2013 13:50
Artemis Racing's determination to challenge for the America's Cup despite a deadly training accident is set to come to fruition in the best-of-seven Louis Vuitton Cup semi-finals that start on Tuesday.
The Swedish team suffered a devasting blow in May when British crew member Andrew Simpson was killed on San Francisco Bay, in the crash that destroyed their first AC72 catamaran.
As they worked feverishly to get their second boat launched, Emirates Team New Zealand won all five of their round-robin races against Italy's Luna Rossa during a first round in which Artemis's absence made for a bevy of forfeited races.
The one-boat "races" -- along with some testy rules disputes -- robbed the first stage of the venerable event of some of its lustre, and organisers hope the sight of Artemis and Luna Rossa going head-to-head on the bay in their sophisticated catamarans can spark the excitement they first envisioned in planning their "Summer of Racing".
Team New Zealand's round-robin domination saw them move directly into the final of the Louis Vuitton Cup, where they will take on Luna Rossa or Artemis for a chance to challenge defenders Oracle Team USA in the America's Cup races in September.
Despite forfeiting one race in the round-robin and losing four to Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa will hold a definite advantage going into the semi-finals, having had the chance to fine tune their craft in serious competition.
Artemis go into their first series still learning the limits of their boat.
"Personally, it's been one of my most enjoyable weeks of sailing," Artemis skipper Iain Percy said of their preparations.
"We've learned so many things at such a fast rate. But to say that we're ready to go would absolutely not be the case.
"Our competitors launched their boat nine months ago. We launched our boat nine days ago.
"Obviously if we had nine more months we would progress a lot more.
"That's not an excuse. It's our fault we are in this position. But those are the facts. We've had our foiling 72-foot cat for nine days and the event starts on Tuesday."
Artemis' Australian helmsman Nathan Outteridge said the team has tried to focus on mastering tougher challenges, such as sailing downwind. And they have tried to learn by watching their rivals.
"You'd be surprised how much analysis we do of other teams," he said. "We've done lots of research watching what the other teams do."