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19 November 2002, 09:28 am
Oneworld Picks Stars and Stripes
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OneWorld©Franck Socha/Louis Vuitton

America's Cup
Auckland

The Seattle Yacht Club's OneWorld Challenge, charged with choosing its opponent for the Quarter Final Repechage of the Louis Vuitton Cup, has elected to sail Team Dennis Conner when racing commences on Saturday 23 November.
The Seattle Yacht Club's OneWorld Challenge, charged with choosing its opponent for the Quarter Final Repechage of the Louis Vuitton Cup, has elected to sail Team Dennis Conner when racing commences on Saturday 23 November.

That means the other pairing will be the Italian Prada Challenge against Sweden's Victory Challenge.

The winners of these two best of seven matches proceed to race each other in the Semi Finals, while the losers are eliminated from the Louis Vuitton Cup.

"Each of these teams are extremely challenging... and must be taken extremely seriously," said OneWorld CEO Gary Wright. "We put it to the team, and at the end of the day we determined that this was the right decision for us today. We look forward to getting back on the water doing what we came here to do."

(In analysing the relative merits of the four Repechage teams, it's important to consider that OneWorld and Prada faced much stronger teams (on the basis of their Round Robin records) in the Quarter Finals, than Victory or Team Dennis Conner.)

OneWorld's selection of Team Dennis Conner creates an all-American pairing of teams moving in opposite directions on the results table. While OneWorld blazed through the first Round Robin unbeaten, Team Dennis Conner was slow out of the gate with a 4-4 record. Both teams stumbled in Round Robin Two, OneWorld going 5-3 and Team Dennis Conner just winning two races from eight starts.

But in the Quarter Finals, Team Dennis Conner sailed USA-77 for the first time and with a little bit more boat speed, turned in a dominating performance over the GBR Challenge. OneWorld, meanwhile, couldn't make any inroads on Oracle BMW Racing, falling in four straight races.

While Stars & Stripes tactician Terry Hutchinson said the team's recent form has given it renewed confidence, it knows it still has to improve to compete.

"Our team's come a long way, our boat's come a long way, but we still have a long way to go,"Hutchinson said. "You can't underestimate the fact that we still need to get a lot better to win."

The other pairing features the ever-improving Victory Challenge against the inconsistent Italian Prada Challenge. The Italians earned two wins over the Swedes in the Round Robins.

Victory improved on three Round Robin One wins with four victories in Round Robin Two. The Swedes then dominated the French team to win its Quarter Final match 4-1.

"This is an outcome we have calculated and we found the most self evident," said project Victory project manager Mats Johansson. "We have sailed Prada and matched them well. We look forward to meeting them in the Repechage. We know Prada have had a strong development lately. But also we have made huge progress."

Prada, on the other hand, limped to four wins in Round Robin One, but then charged to seven victories in the second Round Robin. The Italians were losing 3-0 to Alinghi in the Quarter Finals when they conceded the last match in order to earn more development time before the Repechage.

The best of seven Quarter Final Repechage is scheduled to begin on Saturday 23 November. Racing will not start before 13:15.


Louis Vuitton Media/ISAF News Editor
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