Round Robin 1 Overview

Published: Tue 15 Oct 2002 06:12 PM
At the close of Round Robin 1, Michel Bonnefous and Russell Coutts, Executive Directors of Team Alinghi, met with representatives of the international press based here in Auckland.
Here is a condensed transcript of the subjects dealt with during this press conference.
Russell Coutts : " To build up a team of 32 strong sailors has always been one of our long term goals. In the long run, the crew rotation may cost us one or two points, but it will be worth the effort. What we are developing now will determine where we are at the end of the competition. There are too many risks of having people injured or sick, you have to foresee these kind of situations to be able to provide the position onboard. At this stage it is also important to build our team and keep on challenging each other in house"
Weather conditions
Russell Coutts: " The weather conditions were very difficult to sail, very puffy and shifty - very lake-like conditions. It could have gone badly pretty fast if we had made the slightest mistake. For those reasons the race against Victory Challenge was fantastic. They made a great job reading the shifty conditions on the course.""
Russell Coutts: " We could check that we'd built two fast boats. But like any other challenger we will improve our techniques from what we learnt during this first phase. We will certainly see dramatic changes on the other teams boats. We should see some of the teams improve their performance pretty quickly.
Michel Bonnefous : " We started the first Round Robin with assumptions. After two weeks of sailing we have built up a big data base that enables us to analyze the deltas between our boat and the others. We ended up (finished) Round Robin 1 with a nice margin in terms of speed but we are still looking for improvements."
Time management
Michel Bonnefous: " Our biggest question at this time is " where are the problems?" Once they are identified we have to assess the time we need to solve them or improve the situation. It is much more a question of time allocation rather than of money available" (
Boat picked up for RR2
Russell Coutts : "We haven't yet decided which boat we are going to sail during Round Robin 2. As we still have to test and fine tune SUI 75 we are very likely to go on with SUI 64 for this second Round Robin. A new mast arrived today for SUI 64."
Murray Jones
Russell Coutts : "Murray will sail with us in between the Round Robins. He will probably sail during the Second Round Robin. He is really keen to go out but the decision lies in the end with the doctors."
Michel Bonnefous : " There is a lot of interest for us in Switzerland. We also noticed that we had many releases from other European media such as Italy or Germany. It is very encouraging to receive such supportive messages."
Alinghi's internet site is continuously being developed. Two new categories: " Features " and " Dockside Gossip " are now online in the news section. Starting from Round Robin 2, Internet surfers will be able to take their own interactive tour of the Alinghi base.
For those who prefer to analyse and critique the boat's performance, the site also offers a new statistical module that will be updated on a daily basis during all stages of racing. Currently on offer to readers is an analysis of racing during Round Robin 1.
< NOTE: Starting at the end of the Round Robin1, exclusive statistics about all the racing will be available on our Internet site These statistics will serve as a summary for now, as only a relatively small number of races have been sailed so far. However they will prove to be a useful tool as racing continues. Thanks to this new means of working we can examine exactly what happened during Round Robin One.
Lesson one relates to the overall performance of the boats in relation to the weather conditions. 50 % of Alinghi's races were sailed in medium winds (12-18 knots), 37.5% were sailed in light airs (less than 12knots) and 12.5% of races were sailed in strong winds (greater than 18knots). SUI 64 confirmed herself as a multipurpose boat capable of performing well in both strong and light airs. On the other hand, Alinghi's loss to One World was sailed in medium breeze.
Let us have a look at how well Alinghi raced. The Swiss boat crossed the starting line ahead of its opposition only twice, 25% of all its starts. This statistic is a reflection only of the crossing of the start line and not the actual positioning of the boat on the racecourse i.e. if the team managed to assume the controlling position on the left or the right of the course.
Regarding Alinghi's approach to the start line we could conclude that either Alinghi's afterguard chose to sail conservatively and calmly, avoiding any unnecessary risks or else they still have some work to do to perfect their starts.
The leg to the first mark offers us more insight into the Swiss boat's performance: Alinghi was first around the top mark 7 times (88%) and from there was never passed from behind. "First to the top mark/First past the post" the ratio remained the same.
The Swiss boat's speed and strategic choices were excellent, even if it became clear that on certain downwind legs the opposing teams were making gains. The most notable occasion was the last race versus Sweden's Victory Challenge.
Detailed analysis reveals that Alinghi was faster upwind 56% of the time while only extending its lead on 36% of its downwind legs. The statistic becomes even more worthwhile when compared to the other teams. Oracle was the most successful of all the boats being the fastest upwind (76% of the time), ahead of Areva (75%). At the opposite end of the fleet, Mascalzone Latino made gains on only 22% of its upwind legs. The results of the downwind legs are also very interesting. Victory was the most efficient boat making gains 63% of the time, ahead of Stars and Stripes (61%). The overall leaders hardly feature amongst these top teams: Alinghi's rate for making gains sailing downwind was 36%, One World 40% and only 30% for Oracle.
Although it is too early to draw any significant conclusions, we can clearly say that the overall leaders of the Louis Vuitton Cup are performing much more efficiently upwind than downwind.
Moreover it is also very clear that the boats that performed well in certain conditions suffered strongly elsewhere. The leading group consists of the most multipurpose boats that benefit from the least spectacular deltas.
Alinghi stood out with its race results: 43% of the Swiss team's races were won with a winning margin greater than 2 minutes, whereas 43% of Alinghi's races were won with a lead of between 30 seconds and 2 minutes, and only one race (representing 14% of the races sailed) was won with a delta of less than 30 seconds (that sailed against Victory Challenge). It is also worth noting that the one race Alinghi lost against One World had a delta of less than 30 seconds.
Now we can leave it up to you to examine reports of how Alinghi's competitors performed. Bear in mind that the challengers may choose to change their racing boat for the next round of competition. These statistics focus mainly on the performance of the Challengers and not the boats themselves
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Team Alinghi is flying the Swiss flag, and carrying the colours of the Société Nautique de Genève. UBS, Infonet, Audemars-Piguet and Riri are its proud sponsors. Visit our Website

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