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Alinghi Fends Off American Team



Team Alinghi won today, with Oracle BMW Racing right on their heels. The two teams demonstrated efficiency and professionalism in managing the incidents that scattered the course.

AUCKLAND - January 13, 2003 - Race 2 of the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals began at 13:15 (local time) in a cold northwesterly breeze of 11-15 knots. Alinghi and Oracle BMW Racing expected a fierce battle, but a broken spinnaker pole on USA 76 and a gennaker sheet under the bow on SUI 64 marked the competition with unsmooth sailing.

It began with a conservative and even start. Oracle BMW Racing elected to take the committee boat end, with Alinghi a length to leeward. Just after Coutts forced starting helmsman Peter Holmberg to tack away to the right, Chris Dickson jumped on the wheel of USA-76. Alinghi gained the lead in the first beat, but Oracle BMW Racing turned on the heat with gains made on the first run. Both boats flew asymmetric spinnakers. However, while they prepared for the leeward mark rounding, the USA 76 crew allowed the spinnaker pole to go forward before releasing the halyard, which resulted in a broken spinnaker pole. Alinghi then built a lead on the next beat. The Americans managed their problem well, pulled their sail out of the water, and quickly cleaned up the deck.

Alinghi also had a hitch on the last run. The Swiss moved to gybe while flying their asymmetrical gennaker, and the sheet became caught underneath the bow of the boat. With an asymmetrical sail, it is difficult to gybe because the sail does not fly as freely as does a symmetrical spinnaker. However, the Alinghi team members showed efficiency in their practiced procedure to handle any setbacks that arise. While certain team members took care of the problem, the rest of the team focused on sailing the race. Team Alinghi defeated Oracle BMW Racing by 40 seconds.


SIMON DAUBNEY, GENOA TRIMMER - "On the last run the gennaker sheet went under the bow. The guys worked pretty fast to get it under control. It's tricky to gybe with an asymmetrical spinnaker and it's easy for the sheet to drop over with the gennaker up. It's happened in training a few times and it can be a problem sometimes when you have the pole so far aft as we did. It was at the crossover between using a spinnaker and a gennaker. At that point it is pretty easy for the sheet to drop over."

JOCHEN SCHUEMANN, STRATEGIST - "We achieved what we wanted from our tactics. From the first beat we were in control and Oracle BMW Racing had a technical problem when they broke their spinnaker pole, which it makes it hard to say how they would have sailed in the wind shifts. We sailed without any major mistakes, except for the hiccup on the last leg when we gybed, but it didn't cost us anything."

RUSSELL COUTTS, HELMSMAN - "We are very happy with our boat speed and our result today. The race went very well for us. We'd rather be 2-nil up than 2-nil down. Tomorrow we'll test rigging on a mast and working on some light weather sailing."


In the past, the navigators have used the "laser gun" to gather data on the opponent's distance and position. With the laser gun now banned, the navigator must watch the opponent, take its bearings with a handheld electronic compass, and manually feed the approximate distance to the other boat.

The laser range is a useful piece of technology on an America's Cup yacht, but it is not vital to providing the navigator highly accurate data. Using the handheld compass, he remains under pressure to inform the afterguard on the position of the opponent with extreme precision. However, he now must rely more on his judgment on the distance and therefore calculate how far the boat is ahead or behind.

The laser range finder shoots a laser beam at a target, which gives the distance to the target. The laser gun also has a compass on it that, when locked on a target, provides the bearing. This information on bearing and distance to the opponent is fed directly into the onboard computer in conjunction with true and apparent wind angles taken atop the mast. This data tells the navigator if the boat is gaining or losing ground.

As stated in Condition 19.1 of the America's Cup sailing protocol, while racing the yachts are prohibited from carrying onboard any equipment capable of receiving or transmitting communications or signals unless expressly approved by the conditions, the Sailing Instructions, or CORM.

The ruling was born from the point that radar sends out a signal and receives information back about a target. It's the receiving of information that makes it illegal as per the rule. A radar system can be easily configured to receive communications such as location, wind speed, and wind direction. In short, radar and laser range finders are types of equipment capable of receiving of transmitting communications or signals. The Jury found no specific approval of Laser range finders in the Conditions or Sailing instructions and therefore ruled that laser guns were not permitted.

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