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Louis Vuitton Cup - Finals - Alinghi 3 Vs Oracle 1


Louis Vuitton Cup - Finals - Alinghi 3 Vs Oracle 1

TOUGH WORK FOR AFTERGUARDS Race 4 of the Finals featured shifty conditions, as extremely light and fluky zephyrs prevailed on the course. Oracle BMW Racing was at the right place at the right time and came out ahead. Alinghi finished 2 minutes 13 seconds after the Americans.

AUCKLAND - January 16, 2003 - Race 4 of the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals started in 10 knots of southerly breeze at 15:20 (local time) after a 2-hour postponement due to light breeze. Fluky winds oscillated and dropped during the course of the race, making it a navigational challenge for the afterguards who had their work cut out for them. In the light conditions, Oracle BMW Racing showed strong boat speed, and were in the right place at the right time.

It was a strong start for the American team, who earned their first point of the series today. At the helm of USA 76 for the duration of the race, Peter Holmberg timed the start perfectly and shot of the line, heading for the left side of the course. Alinghi also went for the favored pin end, and, positioned on the hip of USA 76, tacked away to the right. Then the breeze shifted considerably to the right in Alinghi's favor, and Murray Jones was sent up the mast to look for lifts and headers. The oscillating wind meant hard work and risk for the afterguard, who managed the shifts expertly to gain the lead.

The key moment of the race came just after the first mark. Team Alinghi rounded 38 seconds ahead before the wind shifted dramatically 70º. Oracle was on the pace as she capitalized on the shift and led the charge to the left side of the course. There they found the good pressure at the right moment, and came neatly from behind. Alinghi was on the right on this downwind leg, and USA 76 gained a lead of 500 meters. The lateral separation between the boats opened up to approximately 1 kilometer. With the boats so far apart, the difference in speed was a function of two teams sailing in different wind, where Oracle had consistently stronger breeze. Alinghi finished 2:13 after USA 76, with a 3-1score for the Finals.

QUOTES FROM THE BOAT

JOCHEN SCHUEMANN, STRATEGIST - "The first beat was the trickiest leg because it was very shifty. Alinghi solved that difficulty earlier than Oracle BMW Racing to get ahead. But just after the first mark there was a big shift of 70º. The wind was such that we could have laid the mark on one gybe. But Oracle took the shift and sailed past. At that point, tactically, it was not possible to gybe."

KAI BJORN, GRINDER - "It was pretty shifty out there. When Oracle got inside at that first mark, we lost all the gains we had made on the beat. The pressure filled in below and they caught up and passed us. When it didn't' go our way, that's when we knew it would be a long day and a tough race. We realize it's a sailboat race, and that's bound to happen. We're still up 3-1, and tomorrow is another day. We didn't expect to win this 5-0 because Oracle is a strong team, we knew it would happen."

HIGHLIGHT - LIGHT AIR SPEED Where does Oracle BMW Racing get their speed in light air and flat water?

In earlier rounds in the Louis Vuitton Cup, Oracle BMW Racing was a heavy-air oriented boat. Now the team has reconfigured their boat to allow them strong performance in flat water and light air. Alinghi has a bigger keel than Oracle BMW Racing, and a long slender bulb. Comparatively, Oracle has a shorter, fatter bulb and a smaller keel which means that USA 76 has less "wetted" area (surface area on the bulb). Therefore, there is less friction created when water flows over the surface of the bulb. The Americans have also shortened their bow, allowing them to use more sail area.

Oracle made a compromise on stability to go for light air speed, which worked well today. The trade off for having less drag through the water is that the bulb has a higher centre of gravity and the boat loses some stability. But when sailing downwind, and in light air, stability is less of a factor. Stability is more important when the yachts are heeled over in heavy breeze and sailing fast.

On SUI 64, the distance between the centre of floatation (the point where the hull floats in the water) and the centre of gravity in the bulb is greater than Oracles, which creates more stability in heavier weather conditions because of a longer pendulum swing. Alinghi's long, slender bulb is easier to drag through the water when the speed of the boat is up.

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