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16 December 2002, 12:19 pm
Louis Vuitton Cup - Semi Final
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Alinghi Celebrates©Carlo Borlenghi/SEA&SEE

America's Cup
Hauraki Gulf, Auckland

Alinghi sailed another solid race, leading from start to finish, beating Oracle BMW Racing and advancing to the Louis Vuitton Cup finals, beginning 11 January 2003.
With the loss, the Oracle BMW Racing squad gets knocked into the Semi Final Repechage, where it will meet the winner of the Prada / OneWorld match. The Repechage is scheduled to begin on Friday, 20th December.

In the other pairing, the defending Louis Vuitton Cup champion Prada Challenge finds itself one race away from elimination after OneWorld swept two races on Monday to take a 3-1 series lead. Both races were sailed on the shorter, two-lap Course B.

In their first match-up on Monday, Prada trailed OneWorld from the start, and although the Italians threatened on the first run, the OneWorld crew held its nerve and built a big lead on the second beat to win the race.

In the second race, OneWorld again earned the right on the start, and with a favourable early shift just after the start, the Americans were away, holding a lead they would build on throughout the race, eventually winning by a large margin.

Prada can take some comfort from its previous experience in 'must-win' races. In the 2000 competition, the Italian team won two consecutive races to stave off elimination and win the Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup.

After three days where racing was abandoned, conditions were ideal for racing today, with 14 to 20 knot Southerlies on the race course.

Two races (if needed) are scheduled for Tuesday.

LOUIS VUITTON CUP SEMI FINAL
ONEWORLD (USA-67) BEAT LUNA ROSSA (ITA-74) - DELTA 00:58


In the pre-start, both boats sailed deep into the box before dialing up. Rod Davis at the helm of Prada broke it off to lead the boats away further from the line and completed a three circle pirouette before turning back for the starting line. James Spithill steering OneWorld broke off the chase early, on the third clock-wise circle and tacked away to line up for the right hand side of the start line. Spithill worked hard to hold the favoured right and started with great speed to windward of the Italian boat. Spithill was then able to hold his controlling position all the way to the port lay line. With a single tack first beat, OneWorld was able to sail slightly past the lay line before tacking, leaving Prada to sail in its wake and round 11-seconds behind at the first mark. Peter Gilmour, skipper of OneWorld opted for a symmetric spinnaker on the run, whilst the Italian boat elected to set an 'A' sail (asymmetric spinnaker) and attacked hard from behind but were unable to make any real impression on the American lead. Prada lost out with a less than perfect gybe three quarters of the way down the run and OneWorld extended its lead to 17 seconds at the leeward mark on the shortened four leg course. On the second beat, OneWorld aggressively protected the right and its tactics paid dividends with a big right hand shift half way up the beat. Gilmour's team was able to extend its lead to an unassailable one minute ten seconds at the final windward mark and was able to sail the final run without a close challenge.

ALINGHI (SUI-64) BEAT USA-76 - DELTA 00:48
Alinghi wins semi-finals over Oracle BMW Racing 4-0


This match was all but decided at the start gun, as Alinghi skipper Russell Coutts won the start handily and translated that early lead into a controlling position throughout the race. Coutts sailed deep into the start box, and took advantage of a windshift to cross ahead of USA-76 helmsman Peter Holmberg, avoiding the dial-up. The boats circled a few times well below the start line, and as they headed back for the start on starboard tack, Holmberg established a leeward hook on Alinghi. As USA-76 luffed, Coutts responded casually, and both boats slowed head to wind. Coutts eventually tacked, heading towards the Committee Boat, leaving Holmberg stalled, late for the line. As the gun sounded, Coutts had tacked back, at speed, to start well to windward and with good pace over Oracle BMW Racing. Skipper Chris Dickson took the helm on USA-76 at this point, but he couldn't negate Alinghi's lead and trailed around the top mark by 35-seconds. Dickson's only real opportunity came near the bottom of the first leeward leg. USA-76, sailing deep under spinnaker cut the corner on Coutts who had sailed past the layline, and Dickson made a nice gain. Early on the second beat Dickson engaged Coutts in a tacking duel, but Alinghi was the one who gained, and Coutts soon set up in a strong position to take advantage of a couple of good shifts, extending away, and sailing into the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals.

ONEWORLD (USA-67) BEAT LUNA ROSSA (ITA-74) - DELTA 02:32

OneWorld leads semi-finals over Luna Rossa by 3-1. Following the America's Cup Arbitration Panel decision of 9 December 2002, OneWorld Challenge has had one point deducted from its score.


Peter Gilmour's OneWorld took a commanding lead in its Semi Final with another emphatic victory over Prada by over two minutes. The call aboard the American boat was to win the right side at the start and James Spithill at the helm, duly did just that. With 30 seconds to go to the start, the boats got very close to the line and both boats tacked onto port, but OneWorld was on the vital right hand side and sailing with good speed. As predicted by the OneWorld weather team, the wind shifted right and OneWorld took the initiative and was able to protect its side all the way up the beat. The Americans were able to make a further gain just before the windward mark, with a further right hand shift and rounded 32 seconds ahead. Downwind, Prada was not able to strike back in the breezy south west winds and suffered an unfortunate set back at the leeward mark. Prada dropped and gybed its kite in a single move and ended up having to cut the spinnaker free after it went 'trawling'. Problems started after the pole jammed on the mast track, followed by the spinnaker sheets going under the bow. The spinnaker was nearly totally recovered on deck, when water got into the kite and took it over the side, slowing Prada until the sail was cut free. By the time OneWorld reached the windward mark for the second time, it had extended to nearly two minutes ahead and Italian spirits were starting to drop. The wind slowly increased going into the final run, leaving no chance for Prada to fight back.
Louis Vuitton Media/ISAF News Editor
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