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Alinghi - Semifinal Overview With Russell Coutts

Alinghi - Semifinal Overview With Russell Coutts

Following Alinghi's qualification for the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup, Russell Coutts (Skipper and Executive Director) met with representatives of the International Press based here in Auckland. Here is a condensed transcript of the subjects dealt with during this press conference.

Russell Coutts: "It has been a great week of racing but the 4-0 score doesn't really reflect how close it was. I have a lot of respect for Oracle - they're a talented team, and there's a good chance we might see them again in the final.

Getting through to the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup has been a big step but we have to focus on our next goal of making it through the finals and ultimately to try and be successful in the Americas Cup.

We feel we've made a big improvement in our on board communication and teamwork during the last round. We had a new team at the start of the campaign and I've been very encouraged by the progress we're making, especially in the afterguard. Getting opportunities to sail with Jochen, Murray, and Brad together has been difficult due to Murray's injury and the fact that Jochen is on the other boat during training, and they're really working well as a team now. We've made some other subtle changes in the crew - we changed our grinding team towards the end of the week and moving Dean Phipps onto the bow and Piet Van Nieuwenhuyzen into the middle of the boat has worked well. We're continuing with our policy of rotating the crew and trying different combinations.

We had a little celebration last night but we'll be back out on the water this afternoon (Tuesday). We have a list of things we'd like to do and it takes time to implement and test them and get answers back to the design and boat building teams."

What is your opinion of the appendage that Alinghi, Oracle and Team New Zealand might be developing?

"The idea of an appendage was muted during the last cup in different forms so it's not a new concept. It's something that we discussed with the design team as far back as September 2000, and Rolf used a similar concept in 1996 with the IMS boats. We originally thought the measurers wouldn't allow it and decided, perhaps unwisely, not to proceed. Then in October a confidential interpretation was issued to all the teams stating that it would be allowed, although we don't know who originally asked for the interpretation. We were fortunate in that we had done some thinking about it but it has still been a bit of a rush."

How do you feel about the interpretation of the protocol suggesting that challengers may be limited to one boat for the final and the America's Cup?

"This wouldn't have any effect on our testing and training and obviously we only need one boat to race. We're still doing lots of testing and we might actually find that SUI64 is our quickest boat. I'm intrigued that someone else wants to choose which boat we race. We've looked at the legality rule and we're confident the panel will see it the same way as it has for years."

Did yesterdays start against Oracle go as you planned it?

"No, actually we didn't plan it this way! I made a few mistakes early in the pre-start and we were controlled by Oracle. However, they allowed us to start where we wanted to and we gratefully took the opportunity."

To what do you attribute the success of New Zealand sailors?

"I think it goes back to the grass roots of the sport and we have an excellent youth sailing scheme. This not only produces good sailors but also good designers and boat builders and people associated with the industry. New Zealand also has a strong associated industry, such as the boat yards, sail makers and spar builders that have developed as a result of the round the world races and the America's Cup. We're also starting to see improvements in other countries - for instance Great Britain did really well in the last Olympics and now they're back competing in the cup which is fantastic."

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