SAN FRANCISCO -- The final of the America's Cup challenger series has had more failing than foiling.

Emirates Team New Zealand sailed away with another victory because of a mechanical failure to Italy's Luna Rossa Challenge, taking a 2-1 lead in the Louis Vuitton Cup finals Monday.

New Zealand skipper Dean Barker moved his AC72 catamaran underneath at the start and made a slick move inside Luna Rossa at the first mark to take the lead. The Italians had their best start and stayed close until the control arm of their wing sail broke, forcing another withdrawal in a series beset by big breezes and breakdowns.

"It'd be nice if we can get one race where both boats race all the way till the end," Barker said.

The winner of the best-of-13 Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series finals will face defending champion Oracle Team USA in the 34th America's Cup starting Sept. 7.

For the third consecutive day, officials called off the second race because of strong wind and bailed out a broken boat. Races 4 and 5 will be held Wednesday. Race 6 is scheduled for Friday, a reserve day.

All three results in this series have come by withdrawals. New Zealand suffered a torn trampoline and a fairing when its catamaran nose-dived in Race 1, sending two grinders overboard. The Kiwis still won because the Italians had a problem with their starboard daggerboard.


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New Zealand led Luna Rossa by 400 meters late in Sunday's race when the electronics system that controls the hydraulics shut down. That allowed Luna Rossa to tie the series.

Monday's first race started an hour earlier before the typical afternoon breezes on San Francisco Bay whip up. The Kiwis made a beautiful foiling jibe -- when a boat changes direction while sailing downwind and stays on its foils -- at more than 30 knots (34.5 mph) to send them through Gate 2 about 21 seconds in front. As both boats turned upwind toward Alcatraz Island, the Italians pulled up with problems controlling their wing.

  • On Monday, the international jury of sailing experts concluded its investigation into the cheating scandal plaguing Oracle Team USA. Two of the team's 45-foot catamarans used in last year's America's Cup World Series were found to be stuffed with bags of lead pellets in forward posts to add weight.

    While the jury didn't release its conclusions Monday, it said it would hold a series of hearing soon to determine if Oracle is guilty of "gross misconduct" and of defaming the reputation of the America's Cup.

    If so, the penalties could range from suspension of team members or the team itself, or the forfeiture of a number of races in the America's Cup.

    Staff writer Julia Prodis Sulek contributed to this report.

    LOUIS VUITTON CUP FINALS

    Emirates Team New Zealand 2,
    Luna Rossa Challenge 1

    Best-of-13 series
    Wednesday: Races 4 and 5, 1:10 p.m. and 2:10 p.m. live on NBCBA
    Friday: Race 6, TBA
    Saturday: Races 7 and 8, 1:10 p.m. and 2:10 p.m. live on COZI TV, 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Network
    Sunday: Races 9* and 10*, 1:10 p.m. and 2:10 p.m. live on COZI TV, 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Network
    Aug. 28: Races 11* and 12*, 1:10 p.m. and 2:10 p.m. live on NBCBA, 2 p.m. on NBC Sports Network
    Aug. 30: Race 13*, 1:10 p.m. live on NBCBA, 2 p.m. on NBC Sports Network
    * -- if necessary
    COZI TV is available on Channel 186 on Comcast Cable or broadcast digital Channel 11.2.