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The Wind Gods Speak To Alinghi

The Wind Gods Speak To Alinghi

Alinghi won a crucial point on the first day of the semi-finals. A successful second attempt at launching the round took place in perfect wind conditions, and the Swiss team benefited from a favorable wind shifts giving SUI-64 a decisive advantage over Oracle BMW Racing.

AUCKLAND - December 10, 2002 - After race day one was cancelled due to heavy weather, the race committee finally launched the semi-finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup. At 13:15 local time, the start gun sounded and the yachts exploded into action. The water in the starting box boiled as Alinghi and Oracle circled each other, attacking aggressively for the favorable position on the start line.

Alinghi anticipated Oracle would be a fierce competitor, and the Americans confirmed the suspicion from the start. But with a strong spirit, the Swiss went out to meet the fearsome duo, Helmsman Peter Holmberg and Skipper Chris Dickson on USA-76, and returned with an important victory, as Alinghi proved that they are capable of defeating a competitor as formidable as Oracle. Notorious for his aggressive maneuvers in the crucial pre-start phase, Holmberg put the pedal down but Alinghi pushed for position and hit the line at top speed in 16-17 knots of southwesterly breeze. Alinghi quickly won the advantage, thanks to a pair of favorable wind shifts. The first shift occurred after the split tack start - the drag race began with Oracle in the favorable windward position to the left, but Alinghi caught a slight edge up the right side of the beat which allowed them a 14 second lead at the first mark. They caught a second shift up the second beat, SUI-64 doubling their advantage o! ver USA-76. The crew skillfully managed the lead to defeat Oracle by 1:11.

The Swiss team was confident that they were ready to race, but anticipated a tough competition. The lead-up to this match was particularly tense, as it was to be the first time the Team has measured themselves against the virtually “new” boat of their opponent. Alinghi faced an unknown quantity in Oracle, as all the challengers have made improvements during the three weeks between rounds. At the morning gym session today, Alinghi physio Xavier Jolis noted, “They were very quiet and somewhat tense, but concentrated. They had a winning spirit.”

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