Round Robin One is due to conclude tomorrow with the final unfinished encounter between Mascalzone Latino (ITA) and Prada (ITA). This all-Italian clash will be the only match scheduled for Tuesday as Round Robin Two starts properly on Wednesday.
Syndicates will race each other in the same order as racing was completed in Round Robin One. However, starting sides will be reversed, with the boat entering on port in the first round robin, entering on starboard in the second, and vice versa. Sweden's Victory Challenge has the first scheduled bye and will not start racing until Thursday.
Since Round Robin One concluded there have been seven days during which each syndicate can make modifications to their boat, changes that could potentially increase their boat speed around the racecourse. Most took up this chance, and although in many cases only small changes have taken place, we shall be seeing an upward gear change in performance levels from pretty much every syndicate.
Only Victory Challenge have so far opted to change their race boat between Round Robin one and two, and will now use SWE 73 instead of SWE 64. In an interview yesterday, Victory spokesman Bert Willborg said, "we have known for a long time that Orm (SWE 73) is faster but we wanted to make sure she could handle the Hauraki Gulf and it was essential to do a thorough test."
The biggest change of the "Pit Period" seems to be the modifications to the bow of Prada's boat Luna Rossa (ITA 74). Following the departure of Doug Peterson from his position as the syndicate design chief, it has only taken five days to give Luna Rossa a knuckle bow, and modify the winglets on her keel.
Team Dennis Conner (USA) have now returned to the luxury of being a two boat campaign following the replacement of the front section of USA 77 after she sank over two months ago. They have been two boat testing again and took the rebuilt boat out in wind strengths that were beyond the maximum for racing in order to test her. It would appear the syndicate are happy with the results. "It gave us a great deal of confidence, we slammed her into some big waves and she came through perfectly."
Commented Tom Whidden.
After the results of Round Robin one, it would appear that the biggest fight will be for that coveted fourth place seeding to make the double chance group for the quarterfinals. Currently, the syndicates looking to be in the running are GBR Challenge, Team Dennis Conner and Prada, who will all be on four race wins going into Round Robin two (providing Prada beat Mascalzone Latino tomorrow). One of the first races in Round Robin Two is Stars and Stripes against GBR Challenge, and with barely a twenty second gap between them over the course in their last encounter, we should be seeing a close match race.
Meanwhile, at the top of the tree, OneWorld (USA) Alinghi (SUI) and Oracle (USA) appear to be the ones to beat. With performance likely to increase across the board, racing should be closer than it has been and that point to be deducted from OneWorld's score could yet be their downfall.
Round Robin Two continues for ten days, after which one syndicate will be eliminated, the remaining eight moving into the quarterfinals of the Louis Vuitton Cup.
Round Robin Two Schedule
First boat named enters on Port Tack
Match 1 OneWorld v Mascalzone Latino
Match 2 Oracle BMW v Prada Challenge
Match 3 Stars & Stripes v GBR Challenge
Match 4 Le Defi v Alinghi
Off: Victory Challenge
Match 1 Le Defi v Victory Challenge
Match 2 Mascalzone Latino v Oracle BMW
Match 3 Alinghi v OneWorld
Match 4 Prada Challenge v Stars & Stripes
Off: GBR Challenge
Match 1 Prada Challenge v Le Defi
Match 2 Alinghi v Mascalzone Latino
Match 3 Stars & Stripes v Victory Challenge
Match 4 GBR Challenge v OneWorld
Off: Oracle BMW
Match 1 Oracle BMW v Stars & Stripes
Match 2 GBR Challenge v Le Defi
Match 3 Alinghi v Prada Challenge
Match 4 Victory Challenge v Mascalzone Latino
Match 1 Mascalzone Latino v Prada Challenge
Match 2 Victory Challenge v Oracle BMW
Match 3 OneWorld v Stars & Stripes
Match 4 GBR Challenge v Alinghi
Off: Le Defi
Match 1 Mascalzone Latino v GBR Challenge
Match 2 Prada Challenge v Victory Challenge
Match 3 OneWorld v Oracle BMW
Match 4 Stars & Stripes v Le Defi
Match 1 Oracle BMW v Le Defi
Match 2 Stars & Stripes v Alinghi
Match 3 Prada Challenge v GBR Challenge
Match 4 Victory Challenge v OneWorld
Off: Mascalzone Latino
Match 1 GBR Challenge v Victory Challenge
Match 1 Le Defi v OneWorld
Match 1 Alinghi v Oracle BMW
Match 1 Mascalzone Latino v Stars & Stripes
Match 1 Le Defi v Mascalzone Latino
Match 2 OneWorld v Prada Challenge
Match 3 Victory Challenge v Alinghi
Match 4 Oracle BMW v GBR Challenge
Off: Stars & Stripes