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New Zealand beats Italy trials

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POSTED July 28, 2013 10:04 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Emirates Team New Zealand beat Italy’s Luna Rossa by 3 minutes, 21 seconds in their final meeting in the round-robins in the America’s Cup challenger trials Sunday on San Francisco Bay.

As the points leader in the round-robins, the Kiwis had the choice of advancing straight to the Louis Vuitton Cup final or picking their opponent for the semifinals. Skipper Dean Barker said that while the Kiwis considered getting in more racing time, they’ve decided to advance straight to the finals in order to continue development of their 72-foot catamaran.

That leaves Luna Rossa to face Artemis Racing of Sweden in the semifinals starting Aug. 6. Artemis only recently launched its new boat and hasn’t sailed in the round-robins. The syndicate has been slowed by the fatal capsize of its first boat on May 9.

The Louis Vuitton Cup finals begin Aug. 17, with the winner advancing to face Oracle Team USA in the 34th America’s Cup starting Sept. 7.

The Kiwis had a slight lead at the start Sunday and built its lead at every turning mark on the seven-leg course. Team New Zealand went 5-0 against the Italians, including the opening race that Italy boycotted due to a rules spat.

In their four head-to-head matchups, the Kiwis were so dominant that the Italians twice were officially ruled a DNF — did not finish — because they crossed the finish line more than five minutes behind Team New Zealand.

After the race, Tom Cruise and his son boarded Team New Zealand’s boat and were given a ride across the bay.

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