America’s Cup final matchup is set

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Emirates Team New Zealand won the 30th anniversary Louis Vuitton Cup with a 3:20 victory over Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge in the eighth and deciding race.

The Kiwis, who beat Luna Rossa in the previous Louis Vuitton Cup in 2007, won the series 7-1. The victory makes Emirates Team New Zealand the official challenger to Oracle Team USA for the 34th America’s Cup in the “September Showdown” beginning Sept. 7. It’s the fifth time in the last six America’s Cup matches that the Kiwis will be a contestant.

“To race for the America’s Cup you have to win the Louis Vuitton Cup,” Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said on the America’s Cup website. “We’ve definitely come here to win the America’s Cup, so winning the Louis Vuitton Cup is all part of the preparation. The guys are extremely focused. We came short in Valencia in 2007 and we’ll give it our all now in the next few weeks to make sure we’re as ready as can be.”

Luna Rossa made the final of the Louis Vuitton Cup for the third time in the past four contests. The widely popular team won the Vuitton Cup in 2000 and finished runner-up to the Kiwis in 2007. The team came into the 2013 Vuitton Cup as a late entrant, but has made great strides since the start of racing last month.

“I’d like to acknowledge Luna Rossa,” Barker said. “We’ve had an amazing relationship with those guys over the last year and a half. Without them we wouldn’t be here. They’ve improved dramatically and have pushed us to keep improving.”

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