Special to Nordstjernan from America's Cup on August 6, 2013:

Even before the Louis Vuitton Cupís best of 7 Semifinal Races between Italy and Sweden, the two teams were presented at the pregame show. Italy came first to cheers and tricolor flag waving. But the reception that Sweden received as the spirited underdog, was truly heartfelt, wishing them the best. Swedes had turned out to cheer them on in this first race. From the top of the cruise terminal from the balcony for the special spectators was spread the Swedish flag for all to see.
Under the worst of conditions they had come so far just to be able to race today. Skipper Percy spoke of the loss upon the team of his best mate. And both on their wing and on their yellow sleeve they bore the blue memorial ribbon of the fallen mate, Andrew Simpson. Helmsman Outteridge, speaking for the whole team, commended the leadership that Percy had shown throughout the entire ordeal, which brought them to this point.
The weather was cool, visibility good: ideal sailing weather on San Francisco Bay, as the longboats of Italy and Sweden entered the Starting Box. But even before the race, while sailing toward the start, Luna Rossa Challenge developed some tears on its wing, which had to be fixed with tape. The question throughout the race was: would the tape hold or would LRís wing tear further. This surpassed the initial question: how fast is Artemisís Big Blue.
The start was a total surprise. Big Blue hurtled across the starting line first and launched up onto its foils during the reach and as it turned the first mark to head downwind. But their lack of practice showed when they could not execute the turn on their foils. Dragged by the water, they lost their speed as Luna Rossa overtook them and never looked back
At one point they were 600 meters apart. They narrowed that to about 150 meters and even gained back distance upwind. But Italyís schooling under the Kiwis during the Round Robins had at least improved their hydroplaning. They foiled on three of their turns, one perfectly. In the end Italy raced across the finish line at 22 knots, almost two minutes (1:57) ahead of Artemis, doing 35 knots.
Artemis will have to master foiling on turns if they are to have any hope in winning races, for by doing so a competitor can gain almost 10 boat lengths against a competitor who is not as skilled.
Still it was a most impressive day for Artemis and her crew. To even be competing in these races seemed impossible more than two months ago when they crashed. But they never gave up. The shore team of 140, working 24/7 pulled off a miracle to get them here. And while their 8 days of practice compared with Italyís 80, obviously was a factor, they left the line rightfully proud.
They will be pouring over the videos from both boats and all of the stats. They will also practice turning on foils. But tomorrow will come early with the second race against Italy. The first team to reach four wins advances to the Finals against New Zealand, the winner to challenge Oracle Team USA. LVC Semifinal#1: AR (0) v LR (1)

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Ted Olsson
San Francisco