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Italy beats Sweden in opener of America's Cup challenger semis

Rebounding from a shaky start and damage to its wing sail, Italy's Luna Rossa sped ahead of Artemis Racing of Sweden to win the opening race of the America's Cup challenger semifinals Tuesday on San Francisco Bay.

The chrome-and-red Italian catamaran, sponsored by the Prada fashion house, won by a comfortable 2 minutes to take the lead in the best-of-seven series.

Artemis Racing made its debut in the Louis Vuitton Cup nearly three months after Andrew "Bart" Simpson was killed when the syndicate's first boat was destroyed in a capsize during a training run May 9. The syndicate launched its second 72-foot catamaran on July 22 and missed the round robins.

"We're really, really pumped in Artemis Racing and super proud," said skipper Iain Percy of Great Britain, who won Olympic gold and silver medals with Simpson. "To think that one week after launching we'd be sailing around the racecourse in 20 knots is beyond my wildest imagination. All the team support boats came over after the race and were cheering and clapping."

Artemis Racing led Luna Rossa across the starting line and around the first reaching mark onto the first downwind leg. But the Swedish catamaran slowed dramatically during its first gybe and Luna Rossa, riding above the waves on hydrofoils, easily overhauled Artemis.


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