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Alinghi Crosses The Line In The Nick Of Time


Alinghi defeated GBR Challenge in dramatically shifting wind conditions. The results of the day rest in suspense, with GBR Challenge having lodged a protest against the Race Committee.

AUCKLAND - October 30, 2002 - Bizarre wind conditions prevailed on the Hauraki Gulf and continued to defy the Race Committee. After many days of postponements, Peter Reggio's team decided to launch two flights of races each day consisting of two laps instead of three on a shortened 12.5 mile course. Today's start was first delayed due to a lack of breeze, then everyone waited while a squall blew through. Throughout the day, there were wind shifts up to 80º and six races were abandoned. Team Alinghi faced off against GBR Challenge, and neatly managed the wind shifts to win by 7 minutes 45 seconds. This was the largest finishing delta for Team Alinghi in the Louis Vuitton Cup thus far.

In light air, the extremely heavy 24-ton America's Cup Class yachts are difficult to maneuver, which was visible in the tame pre-start circling. The Alinghi afterguard picked the far right hand side of the start line, and it was a split tack start with the British team going for the other end. A left-hander, the first of many dramatic shifts, favored GBR Challenge and gave them the lead over Alinghi, but the Swiss caught a nice lift on a right hand wind shift of approximately 50º, and overtook the British boat. Alinghi gained a clear advantage from the shift, a critical moment for the team, as they consistently increased their lead on every leg. The clock was ticking on the final leg to the finish, the onboard environment was tense, and Alinghi defeated the GBR Challenge with just 1 minute 40 seconds to spare before the 45-minute time limit ran out for the leg. GBR Challenge crossed the line 7:45 seconds behind Alinghi.

As a result of the change in wind direction during the first beat, the race committee reset the first windward mark. As the rules state, the race committee must set the mark so that it is a true windward course. In effect, the mark has to be moved before the competitor starts to sail the next leg. GBR Challenge has lodged a protest against the race committee for not respecting the rule. The Jury will make a decision tonight.

Other challengers were not able to finish their races: the matches between Victory and Oracle BMW as well as that of One World and Stars & Stripes will have to be re-run.



DEAN PHIPPS, MAINSAIL TRAVELLER TRIMMER - " I was up the mast the whole race looking for the breeze. There were big puffs out there and quite tricky trying to stay in the right shift. We thought it would settle in direction, but it shifted about 40 degrees, which was more than expected. In the pre-start we wanted the right, and the breeze shifted and we caught the lift. Sailing around the island today was straightforward, but we thought the English would be good at it since they had to sail around the Isle of Wight in the first America's Cup. It was a bit of history for us out there. "

WILL MC CARTHY, GRINDER - " The deciding factor of the race was winning the start and getting the right side, which allowed us to get the first shift. It was relatively easy in the grinder's spot due to the light winds. Everything was very calm out there, and nice conditions but it got a bit tense at the end because of the time limit. "


Sometimes strange birds are spotted perching at the top of the America's Cup Class masts. Grinders regularly hoist team members Murray Jones, J.C. Monnin or Dean Phipps up the mast to perch in the highest spreaders. Besides the trial down at sea level, their role is to help push the asymmetric spinnaker and the battens of the mainsail over to the other side when the boat is gybing in light air.

It is rare to see a team member at the top of the rig when the force of the wind passes 12 knots, or when the sea state is agitated. When the boat shifts, every movement is amplified at the top of the rig, 32 meters above the deck of the yacht. If the morning weather forecast calls for shifty conditions and dominant oscillations, the Alinghi team member takes his place at the top of the mast during the pre-start phase of racing. He keeps a keen eye on the different pressure zones, searching for the next breath of fresh breeze, and he generally descends to the deck a few minutes after the start. From his vantage point high up in the spreaders, the soothsaying bird constantly communicates his good omens to the afterguard at the back of the boat.

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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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