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Alinghi Clears A Path In The Fog

Alinghi Clears A Path In The Fog

Earning an important second point, Alinghi held off Oracle BMW Racing in the second race of the Semi-Finals to defeat the American team by 29 seconds.

AUCKLAND - December 11, 2002 - Under gray skies, the second race of the Louis Vuitton Cup Semi-Finals started at 13:25 local time. Fog and mist blanketed the racecourse, creating minimal visibility, as a light but relentless drizzle soaked the sailors on Team Alinghi and Oracle BMW Racing. Team Alinghi had a strong start and an early edge. Oracle BMW Racing caught up on the last two legs, but it was not enough to catch the Swiss. It was expected to be a very shifty day and the limited visibility made it more difficult than usual to see changes in wind pressure further up the track. Forced to focus harder on small changes occurring closer to the boat, Murray Jones was sent up the mast before the pre-start, looking for the local shifts. When the start gun blasted, Alinghi and Oracle BMW Racing both wanted the right of the line, as there was 4-5 more knots of wind on that side of the course. Alinghi showed strong boat speed off the line in 11 knots of southwesterly breeze. The Swiss boat was 1 second ahead and in the less favored leeward position. Both boats immediately tacked, putting Alinghi in the windward position. With a click more speed, the Swiss squeezed over Oracle. The key to the race was in being first to get into the right hand side. Thus, Alinghi earned the advantage and Oracle BMW Racing followed the Swiss boat in on the lay-line to the first mark. Alinghi padded their lead on the first th! ree mark roundings, but on the last two legs, Oracle played the wind shifts expertly, shaving down Alinghi's lead from 1:05 at the 5th mark to 38 sec. at the 6th mark and then 29 sec. at the finish.


BRAD BUTTERWORTH, TACTICIAN - "It was difficult to see the marks of the course because the visibility was so low. We didn't rely on our instruments, but concentrated as usual on working out when the wind was coming in. We had the same number of people looking for breeze as on any other day."

SIMON DAUBNEY, TRIMMER - "When it is as shifty as it was today, you never have a win sealed up until the last gybe to the finish. The boys at the back of the boat did an excellent job putting distance between the boats. We kept our wits about us on those last two legs when Oracle came back. We just kept focused on keeping things under control."


Setting a fair course in shifting conditions

The changeable wind conditions on the Hauraki Gulf make America's Cup racing tricky not only for the teams, but the Race Committee as well. It's a challenge to achieve a precisely accurate course in capricious winds. Today the race committee had to change the course marks on Leg 5 (15º) and the finish on Leg 6 (10º).

The race committee heads to the racecourse 1.5 hours before the scheduled start to look for trends in the breeze and to determine the mean wind direction. The latitude/longitude coordinates for course are set in a configuration so that the wind direction is perpendicular to the start line with the windward mark set directly upwind. And the breeze shifts are constantly monitored. For example, if the breeze is oscillating between 180 and 210 degrees, the mark is placed at 190 degrees in an attempt to set the fairest course.

The race committee uses a differential GPS, the most accurate instrument available to position the mark, and can place the buoy with an accuracy within 2 meters in as much as 30 meters of water depth. Like the racing yachts that have GPS systems fitted, there are satellite transponders suspended in the middle of the buoys that broadcast their location to Virtual Spectator and the television broadcasts so that onshore spectators can follow the action in front of the computer or television.

Approximately 10 minutes before the start, the magnetic bearing of the first windward mark is displayed on a board on the committee boat, With squirrelly breeze like today, often the competitors don't know until the last minute at which spot they will point the noses of their Formula 1 yachts. The competitors plug in the coordinates to their onboard computers and away they go! But a mark change is usually in order, and the committee must signal the new coordinates prior to the new leg. However, Race Officer Peter Reggio will often use the VHF radio to pre-warn the racing yachts during the beat that a new mark will be set.


DOUBLE CHANCE BOARD Alinghi 2 VS Oracle BMW Racing 0


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