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Alinghi Seals The Deal On Round Robin 2


Alinghi Seals The Deal On Round Robin 2

The Swiss won two races, clinching the top spot in the overall rankings of Round Robin 2. Team Alinghi did not race Prada Sunday for Flight 4..

AUCKLAND - November 2, 2002 - Team Alinghi is in a comfortable position at the head of the rankings as Round Robin 2 closes. Alinghi defeated the Swedish team, Victory Challenge in Flight 9 in a straightforward match, and also emerged winner of the Flight 5 re-race against GBR Challenge.

In the first race, Victory had an early advantage after crossing the middle of the start line, but they lost it on the first beat. Alinghi was exactly where they wanted to be at the start, with the right side being favored. When the wind changed, Orm helmsman Jesper Banks tacked over and Alinghi followed suit, staying in touch with the Swedes as they tried to find a passing lane. Alinghi carefully built a lead. On the approach to the mark, the checkstay (a backstay below the runners that holds the middle of the mast and controls the bending of the mast.) broke. The team effected a repair and were able to continue the race without issue. Orm proved their strong downwind boat speed and closed from behind on each run, but Alinghi defended their lead. It was very shifty and to minimize risk, Alinghi covered the Swedes, staying between them and the mark. On the finishing run, a squall swept the racecourse with gusts up to 26 knots. Alinghi finished 29 seconds ahead of Vi! ctory.

The second match was a re-run of Flight 5, following a request for redress from GBR Challenge. Today, in a building westerly breeze, Alinghi kept their noses clean circling GBR Challenge in a standard pre-start sequence. It was a split tack start with Russell Coutts wanting the pin end and British skipper Ian Walker taking the boat end. While gybing in the pre-start, the stitching on the luff rope that goes through the mast track ripped off the sail, leaving 12 inches of unsupported sail. This was not a problem on the upwind beat, but on the run, they gybed and ripped a .5 metre hole on each side. Bowman Curtis Blewett ascended the mast to help the battens across. On the first beat, Alinghi built a comfortable lead as the wind increased to 22 knots. On the run, they continued to pull out in front. Seamless communication in the afterguard helped in negotiating the shifts that oscillated left 20º and back again. The Swiss team defeated GBR Challenge by 1:26, locking ! in first place for the round robin series.

Alinghi now has the right to announce their opponent amongst the first four ranking challengers. The announcement must be made within 24 hours of the last race of Round Robin 2.

QUOTES FROM THE BOAT

DEAN PHIPPS, GRINDER - “In the first race we broke our checkstay. I lashed it up with a lazy spinnaker sheet. On the downwind leg we were able to lash it back to its proper tension. The important thing in a situation like that is the communication onboard. We want to deal with it as calmly and efficiently as possible with the least amount of distraction so the helmsman and trimmers can concentrate on their jobs. If it had been any worse, we could have lost control of the top part of the mast, but it wasn't as much of an issue as it could have been. We were fortunate enough to be ahead at the time. “

ROLF VROLIJK, PRINCIPAL DESIGNER - “we feel relieved that we have achieved our goals. We have to think hard about how to improve the boat to go further. We still have a long way to go”

CURTIS BLEWETT, BOWMAN - “In the second race we had a problem with the torn sail. I had to go up the mast to kick the batten over for each gybe so that the rip in the sail didn't get worse. On the upwind, it was fine because the sail would come right.”

HIGHLIGHTS

ABOVE 17 KNOTS, IT ALL GETS MORE DIFFICULT

One can imagine that when it is raining and cold, the sailors suffer more than usual. But it is also true that in wind conditions of more than 17 knots, even on a magnificent clear day, the onboard maneuvers become increasingly physically demanding. To begin with, the material of the sails used in heavy weather is thick. This augments the weight as well as the rigidity of the sails. It is more therefore difficult for the team who must prepare the sails on the dock before the race, as well as taxing for the sailors manipulating the sails and moving them around the boat. The force of the wind amplifies the pressure on the sails, which means that the grinders expend more energy in their efforts towards advancing a few more centimeters. The sail trimmers also put a few more cranks on their winches in order to conserve the precision and integrity of their constant adjustments. The boat begins to heels approximately 30º when the wind passes 15 knots, resulting in the sai! lors modifying their posture to suit to regain their equilibrium. Everyone onboard expends energy to compensate for the inclination. Of course, the wind kicks up waves that impede the path of the 25-ton ACC boat. However, all these efforts are imperative to winning the crucial point at the end of the race.

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