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9 October 2002, 11:47 am
Racing on Day 8 Postponed
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© Bob Grieser/Louis Vuitton

America's Cup

Sailing on Race Day Eight has been postponed for the day due to lack of wind, with all matches scheduled for the day will be rescheduled for tomorrow, Thursday. So we bring you a round-up of the form to date and indicators so far.
Sailing on Race Day Eight has been postponed for the day due to lack of wind, with all matches scheduled for the day will be rescheduled for tomorrow, Thursday. So we bring you a round-up of the form to date and indicators so far.

Principal Race Office Peter Reggio said "everything looked good for getting some racing in up to two o'clock and then everything just fell apart out there." The wind never quite made it to the minimum requirement of seven knots sustained for five minutes.

"The wind filled in from the shore today and made it momentarily up to 7.2 knots, but never enough to get a race off," explained Reggio. As for tomorrow's wind conditions, he thinks "more of the same unfortunately…

Three out of eight days so far have been lost completely due to unsuitable wind conditions. Lack of wind has also affected racing on Monday and Tuesday with only a partial programme achieved.

The weather forecast for Thursday 10 October is:
a high-pressure (1032 mb) overhead the Auckland area. Low-pressure (1012 mb) over south western tip of South Island, with associated cold front extending north west into the Tasman Sea and making slow progress towards Auckland. The wind is forecast to be light and variable with weak sea breezes.

So after 5 race days of matches what are the indicators so far of what to expect in the rest of the Louis Vuitton Cup

It's very difficult, and perhaps unfair, to read too much into the early results we've seen in Round Robin One of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Several matches have been postponed due to too much or too little wind and many of the races that have been sailed have featured light and shifty conditions.

However it is clear that some teams have enjoyed early success, and others are disappointed in their results to date.

Among the former, the OneWorld Challenge and Oracle BMW Racing are both undefeated and have no reason to be unhappy with their early form. Both teams have beaten their American brethren, Team Dennis Conner, while OneWorld was also victorious over the team fancied by many commentators as the pre-regatta favourite, the Alinghi Challenge. OneWorld has also sailed one extra race, earning four wins to Oracle BMW's three. The early advantage has to go to the Seattle Yacht Club's OneWorld Challenge. (OneWorld will have one point deducted from its score at the end of Round Robin Two, to fulfil an Arbitration Panel penalty)

The Swiss Alinghi Challenge has also earned four wins, but did lose a race to OneWorld. For the most part, the Swiss have preyed on teams at the bottom half of the leader board. They have yet to race Oracle BMW Racing, or Sweden's Victory Challenge. So although their early record is good, it is fair to say they've yet to be tested against all the strong teams.

Sweden's Victory Challenge had to wait on the sidelines through Flight One, as it had drawn the bye. But the Swedes burst out of the gate with three quick wins, before falling to Italy's Prada Challenge in difficult conditions on Tuesday. The Swedes led for much of that race.

Two of those wins did however come over the winless French team, and the equally struggling Mascalzone Latino.

"Most important for us is that we've found out that we're in the ballpark," said Jesper Bank, the Victory Challenge skipper after his loss to Prada. "Before racing, we couldn't be sure at all whether we were close to matching the experienced guys. So we are quite pleased to learn that we have a package that we can go racing with and be competitive."

Teams that might not be so happy with their record to date are the GBR Challenge and Team Dennis Conner. But a closer look at the results shows things may not be as bad as their records show.

For Team Dennis Conner, two of its three losses have come against the two unbeaten teams on the leader board. But the Stars & Stripes boys have beaten two 'middle power' teams, the GBR Challenge and the Italian Prada syndicate.

Similarly, GBR Challenge has lost to OneWorld, Alinghi and the experienced Team Dennis Conner. That wouldn't have surprised too many people before the regatta started. But the GBR crew clearly aren't happy, and they've substituted their starting helmsman on the crew list.

"This isn't new. This happened in the last regatta in New Zealand," said GBR Challenge skipper Ian Walker. "We don't believe in just putting people under pressure and just demanding something in one race. But we are in the business of trying to do the best we can for GBR Challenge and its supporters."

The only team that has disappointed most observers is Prada. The Louis Vuitton Cup has never before had a winning team come back to defend its title. Either the winner has gone on to win the America's Cup, and return as the next defender (1983 - Australia II, 1987 - Stars & Stripes, 1995 - Team New Zealand), or the syndicate has not come back to challenge at the next event (1992 - Il Moro).

But the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup winner, the Prada Challenge, is back, with high hopes for repeating as winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup and going on to again challenge Team New Zealand in the America's Cup.

However the first week of the Louis Vuitton Cup has been a difficult one for the Italian syndicate, with two wins and three losses from five matches. The victories haven't been all that convincing, coming over the struggling Le Défi AREVA, and in very fluky conditions over the Victory Challenge. The losses have been at the hands of Alinghi, Oracle BMW Racing and Team Dennis Conner. All good teams, to be sure, but ones the Italians will need to beat if they are to reach the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals.

Off the water, Prada raised eyebrows when it fired its long-time designer Doug Peterson. Further questions came with a press release issued on Tuesday, detailing that ITA-80 was being taken off the water and into the construction shed for modifications.

This isn't the way it was supposed to be.

"Every time is a different story," said a weary Francesco de Angelis, skipper on board Luna Rossa. "There are a lot of new teams, very well prepared, and each team has its own story. So we are facing a new challenge. I don't think you get any free points this time. You always have to perform well and if you make a mistake, the other team will jump on it."

Although Prada is in no danger, at this point, of being eliminated at the first off, there is a huge advantage to being among the top four ranked boats after the two Round Robins. And while de Angelis doesn't think the team is in trouble, he's prepared to slog through the bottom half of the rankings if he has to.

"I think you have to deal with what you get and with this format, there are different ways to reach the same place," he said. "It's like when you go to a meeting…it doesn't matter what route you take, as long as you get there on time."
Peter Rusch/Mike Broughton/ISAF Secretariat
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