Alinghi Vaults Into LV Cup Finals
Louis Vuitton Cup - Semi-Finals - Alinghi 4 Vs Oracle 0
Team Alinghi swept the Semi-Finals, vaulting directly into the Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Alinghi nailed the start, seized the advantage, and defeated Oracle BMW Racing by 48 seconds.
AUCKLAND - December 16, 2002 - Team Alinghi won the deciding point of the Louis Vuitton Semi-Finals in the fourth and final race, and swept the round with a 4-0 victory over Oracle BMW Racing. The Swiss boat sailed a classic match race, playing the windshifts and relentlessly controlling the American team.
Strong winds on the Hauraki Gulf had meant postponements for three consecutive days. With race days running out, the Race Committee scheduled two races per day on a shortened course of four legs instead of six, a total of 12.5 nautical miles. The pairing between Alinghi and Oracle BMW Racing began at 10:40 local time.
The Swiss-American clash kicked off in 17 knots of southerly breeze with Alinghi going for the right side of the start line. Chris Dickson, at the helm of USA-76, chose the far left of the line at the pin end, in a split tack start. Alinghi nailed the start with good boat speed and powered up the beat on a long port tack. The Swiss team took the early advantage and built a solid lead over their competitors, covering the Americans expertly and never once allowing a passing lane. Ever the fierce competitors, Oracle BMW Racing powered down on the run with the wind behind them and closed the gap significantly towards the end of the leg. They cut the 35-second delta at the first mark to 11 seconds at the first leeward mark. Just after rounding the mark, Alinghi battled back in a tacking duel, and extended their lead again on the second upwind leg. Oracle BMW Racing followed SUI-64 around the rest of the course, and Alinghi won by 48 seconds.
The decisive win today means Alinghi will now advance directly to the Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup. The team plans to celebrate this victory, but will sail tomorrow according to the training schedule. Oracle will meet the winner of the Prada/One World match in the semi-final repechage round beginning December 20, 2002. The Finals begin on January 11, 2003.
QUOTES FROM THE BOAT
WILL MCCARTHY, GRINDER - "It was a big advantage psychologically to go into this race with three down, one to go. The team did a great job getting the advantage at the start. We wanted the right side, and we were quite happy to let Oracle go left. We were faster on the beat, but they brought the pressure down with them on the downwind run and by the end they had closed the gap. We never stopped focusing, but we were confident that we could stay ahead."
WARWICK FLEURY, MAINSAIL TRIMMER - "Oracle had timed it wrong at the start and we just built our lead on the first beat on that long port tack, but they came back on the run so it was always tense onboard. But once you are ahead, it is easier to stay ahead, especially on a shortened course like we had today."
MANUEL RUIZ DE ELVIRA, DESIGNER - "We expected to be here, but dreaming about it and actually being here is not the same thing. After three days of waiting for this race, finally we can relax. We can breathe a little bit now and prepare for the finals."
RUSSELL COUTTS, HELMSMAN/SKIPPER - "It feels fantastic to win the semi-finals. This is another big step towards reaching our goal. We wanted to avoid the repechage series, and everything went nicely. So far so good."
RESULTS - SEMI FINALS
DOUBLE CHANCE BOARD Alinghi 4 VS Oracle BMW Racing 0 SINGLE CHANCE BOARD OneWorld 4 VS Prada 1