Alinghi Off To A Strong Start In Louis Vuitton Cup

Published: Tue 1 Oct 2002 05:52 PM
Alinghi Off To A Strong Start In The Louis Vuitton Cup - Round Robin 1- Rd1
Alinghi wins the race against the French challenge Areva, skippered by Luc Pillot. The three American entries took the lead against GBR Challenge, Prada Challenge, and Mascalzone Latino.
AUCKLAND - - Alinghi came out on top during the first match of the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Series. After more than two years of unremitting focus and hard work, the team has seen confirmation that they are on the right track.
During the pre-start manoeuvring, in light sout- westerly breeze of 7 knots, Areva seemed to take the upper hand over Alinghi. At the helm of FRA-69, Phillip Presti, a two-time Finn World Champion, pushed Alinghi around the committee boat. Despite this manoeuvre, Russell Coutts, also a Finn Olympic World Champion, broke the cover from the French boat and took control of the situation. In an even, split-tack start, Alinghi made for the committee boat end of line, the favoured right-hand side of the course. Two high-pressure lines came down the track on the right, which allowed Alinghi to win an advantage over Areva. Despite a wind shift to the left before the first mark rounding, Alinghi held her ground over the green boat.
The outcome of these first races in Round Robin One are very important for the Alinghi designers. It is the first opportunity they have to see their boat perform in real race conditions. This begins the long process of validation for the boat design and the decisions they have made. ###
FRANCESCO RAPETTI, MASTMAN - " "It was the first race, so it was a little different than training, I wasn't nervous, but it was different. You usually need 2 or 3 days to be very focused in race mode. I'm happy about our race with the French. The crew was calm and focused. We are ready for tomorrow against One World. As the Mastman, you could say my job was easy today. It gets tougher as the races get closer. In house we do a lot of tough racing, with the boats arriving at the buoy very closely and a lot of upwind tacking, so sometimes when you go against the other teams it's easy. "
ENRICO DE MARIA, GRINDER - "It was a great experience, very exciting. We didn't know much about the French team so it was good to sail against them. Tomorrow is One World, and we've sailed against them a couple of times and we know they are strong. In the beginning I was a little bit nervous, but that disappeared quickly. We had the lead, which makes it easier, but you still have to be ready and aware. In all it was a great, a lot of fun. I'll do it again!" The 26 year old from Switzerland is new to the America's Cup, and the match against the French is his first Cup race.
The race committee, called CORM (Challenger of Record Management), divides the Hauraki Gulf into three different areas, or zones, for the Louis Vuitton Cup battles to unfold. The Red Zone is located in the lee of the Whangaparaoa Penninsula, the more exposed Green Zone is set due east of the Red Zone, and the Blue Zone is directly in the middle of the Gulf, just south of the Red and Green Zones. The Yellow Zone off Takapuna Beach is used as a training ground by all the challengers. "It all depends on the wind direction," said John Bilger, Team Alinghi's Weather Team Manager. "It's better for them to put the top mark in the right place so the course is true, and keep all the sailors happy." If CORM has done a good job setting the course, the top mark is directly upwind. He offered some possible scenarios. "If it's a sunny day with the sea breeze filling in, the race committee might use the blue course, which is located directly in the middle of the Gulf. A different scenario is if there's heavy wind, they might choose the red course since it's closer to the shelter of the Whangaparaoa Penninsula."

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