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America's Cup semi-final opens with narrow defeat for Percy

Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge overcame a spirited challenge from Artemis Racing, skippered by Iain Percy from Southampton, to win Semifinal Race 1 of the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series.

Artemis dubbed 'the big blue' races the Italian entry, Prada, in San Francisco Bay Credit: © ACEA 2013/ Photo Gilles MARTIN-RAGET

Skipper Max Sirena and the Luna Rossa crew won the 15.83 nautical-mile race by 2 minutes in winds that averaged 16 knots. But the crew had trouble before the start when the plastic film on the wing, known as Clysar, started peeling off the frames to which it is glued.

Artemis Credit: ACEA / PHOTO GILLES MARTIN-RAGET

Today’s race pitted the experience of Luna Rossa versus the comeback story of Artemis Racing. The Swedish team suffered a devastating setback in May when the team’s first yacht capsized and broke apart. Crewman Andrew Simpson of England perished in the accident.

Since then Artemis Racing has been rebuilding its team and its second AC72, dubbed “Big Blue” for its striking navy blue hulls. Today was the team’s ninth day in the new wing sail catamaran, as opposed to the 80th day of practice or racing for Luna Rossa in its chrome-plated speedster.

"I cannot believe he is no longer with us" Iain Percy's tribute to his friend, Andrew Simpson

Andrew Simpson (left) with his sailing partner and close friend, Iain Percy Credit: PA Wire

Iain Percy, long-term friend and Artemis Racing teammate with whom Andrew Simpson won his Olympic Star gold and silver medals, posted the following on his Facebook page tonight:

“Yesterday I lost my closest friend of over twenty five years, the friendliest and kindest man I have ever met. I cannot believe he is no longer with us.

“Now all our thoughts should be with his wife and two amazing boys who meant the world to him. Andrew has more friends than anyone and we will continue to support his family with all our hearts

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