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A Battle Royale For Team Alinghi


A Battle Royale For Team Alinghi

Team Alinghi kept their heads down and concentrated on tactics and crew work. Their focus was vital to their winning result, as Prada kept it tight for this third race in the quarter-finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup.

AUCKLAND - November 15, 2002 - Ominous gray clouds over the racecourse did not deter Team Alinghi as they earned victory number 3 in a true tactical battle against Prada Challenge. A breeze of 16-20 knots blowing out of the southwest created perfect racing conditions. It was a hard-won battle between Alinghi and Prada. In the pre-start sequence the boats ran deep in the start box, Alinghi spun around Prada following the initial dial-up with aggressive feints and circles as both boats pushed hard to secure the controlling position. Alinghi trailed Prada, trying to assert their control and when they accelerated over the line fairly evenly, Alinghi had the advantage to windward of Prada to win the right hand side of the course. Prada caught the early advantage on the first shift to the left. The boats sailed side by side on the same tack, Alinghi gradually easing out ahead. The wind oscillated to the right and the Swiss bounced the Italians back to the left. Alinghi quickly took control of the advantage, and carried it into the run whilst Prada attempted a forward assault. It was at the bottom of the second run that Alinghi experienced some problems with their genaker drop and Prada pounced on the chance to attack. As a result, Alinghi lost ! both their controlling advantage and their comfortable lead when they rounded the mark. They lost time and were unable to cover Prada effectively. Alinghi's padded lead shrunk to only a slender lead, and at the first cross on the third beat the Italians gained the advantage of the wind shift to the right. Prada was on the starboard lay-line with the advantage and it turned into a back street brawl between these two strong European teams. Then the wind oscillated to the left to favor the Swiss. Sailing quite close to Prada, Alinghi executed a lee-bow to force them back to the right. The gloves were off down the final leg, but Alinghi showed smart boat-to-boat tactics whilst the sportsmen on the other yacht gave them a run for their money. The final delta was 8 seconds at the finish. EB


JOCHEN SCHUEMANN, STRATEGIST - "The conditions were steadier today. We had control of the race from the start to the finish, except for the moment when we let the gennaker drop in the water and we lost a lot of speed. Prada was in front then but they waited too long to extend their advantage and when they tacked back they were even with us and we could cover them. We held onto our lead, and it's the point that is important."

MURRAY JONES, MAINSAIL TRAVELLER - "It was a really close race, with a reasonable amount of shifts so tactically it was quite a hard race. We seem to have a slight edge on the upwind legs, and they have the edge on the downwind runs, which meant it was going to be a tight match. We made a maneuvering mistake rounding the leeward mark, which could have cost us the race, but we were able to pass them at the last windward mark. In match racing you're looking for any opportunity to pass, especially when the boats are so close and sometimes it is only a matter of a few meters that makes the difference."


The pre-start in this match was aggressive, both teams clearly pushing each other for the control of the start in this vital phase of match racing. The Italians met Alinghi head on today, trying to outsmart their adversary for the optimum starting position. Similar to a game of chess, they must anticipate what the other boat will do and counter attack by tacking or gybing. While Alinghi crossed the line 2 seconds behind, they were to the right of Prada, which was a stronger position with regard to the wind up the course. Rather than being first over the line, it is more advantageous to master the opponent by winning the controlling position, gaining the favourable side of the racecourse.

The key is to decide where you want to be on the start line, and the aim is to get the best position to go to the first mark. You must know exactly where the wind is coming from because the direction dictates what side of the line is favoured. Helmsman Russell Coutts focuses on where to drive Alinghi in relation to the opponent. Tactician Brad Butterworth and Strategist Jochen Schuemann look for the best wind on the course and feed him the information. They paint a picture for the helmsman of what to expect, short and long term, on the rest of the course. Navigator Ernesto Bertelli indicates the timing and distance to the starting line.

This is an excerpt of a feature story that can be found on the website,


Team Alinghi defeated Prada Challenge (8 sec) Oracle BMW Racing defeated OneWorld Challenge (19 sec) Victory Challenge defeated Areva (1 min 12 sec) Stars & Stripes defeated GBR Challenge (22 min 10 sec)

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