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Alinghi To Compete In The 31st America's Cup


Alinghi To Compete In The 31st America's Cup

Team Alinghi won the Louis Vuitton Cup and qualified for the America's Cup, defeating Oracle BMW Racing in Race 6 of the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals with an overall score of 5-1 in the series.

AUCKLAND - January 19, 2003 - After a two-hour postponement under the hot New Zealand summer sun, a sea breeze of 8-9 knots from the northeast filled in for the 15:05 start (local time) of Race 6 of the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals. The light breeze meant conditions would favor Oracle BMW Racing but the American team was under pressure from the get-go when they copped a penalty in the first minutes of the pre-start sequence. This proved to be the deciding factor in the match, as Oracle BMW Racing had a 270º penalty turn to perform while the Swiss team sailed a smart race and played the shifts expertly.

As the boats approached the line in the pre-start sequence, Oracle BMW Racing gybed to starboard and her stern came within 10 feet of Alinghi's bow. Alinghi gave Oracle BMW Racing room to keep clear, but USA 76 did not do so. Alinghi flew the protest flag, and the umpires penalized the Americans for port/starboard. Alinghi crossed the start line on port tack near the committee boat and Oracle took the pin end on starboard for a split tack start. Oracle had the advantage at the first cross. However, Alinghi sailed smart and even when USA 76 opened a significant lead on the first beat, the Swiss remained calm under pressure and placed SUI 64 strategically to catch a left-hand shift. Both boats set asymmetric spinnakers to begin the first run and, in an interesting show of tactical maneuvering, Oracle BMW Racing threw two dummy gybes in the first five minutes of the leg to clear Alinghi, four boat lengths behind. But the Swiss were in control, sailing smart and never losing th!

eir cool. SUI 64 carefully clawed back the deficit on the second beat. It was far from over and Oracle BMW Racing put up a fight in a heated battle on the final run, when Oracle BMW Racing capitalized on a shift and gained the lead. The Americans still had the penalty turn to execute, when Alinghi rolled down over them in a supercharged ending before the finish line to defeat them by 2:34.

Team Alinghi won the 6th Louis Vuitton Cup, and will advance to the America's Cup beginning on February 15, 2003 to challenge the Defender, Team New Zealand.

QUOTES FROM THE BOAT

JOCHEN SCHUEMANN, STRATEGIST - “I think that we are ready to go and compete for the America's Cup. To win the Louis Vuitton Cup is a magnificent result, and we are pleased we have achieved our objective. I am happy I am involved in such a team and obviously I include all the sailors who aren't on the boat today who have contributed to our success today.”

RUSSELL COUTTS, SKIPPER - “What we have just done is fantastic and we are obviously very happy. Of course, winning is a sensational feeling. And of course, we love that this sensation will be repeated in a few weeks.”

CHRISTIAN KARCHER, GRINDER - “This is what I have always dreamed of, and it will be even better when the rest of the team joins us on board the boat. But in only three weeks we will encounter Team New Zealand. We are rally happy that we have arrived at this point and we hope that it's contagious.” HIGHLIGHT - LOUIS VUITTON CUP

The Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series is structured to help create the strongest possible challenger to compete against the Defender of the America's Cup. This year, the Louis Vuitton Cup celebrated its 20th anniversary of sporting endeavor.

In 1970, a century after the first America's Cup competition, the first multinational bid occurred when yacht clubs from Australia, Britain, France, and Greece challenged. In view of the increasing number of challengers, a series of selection trials was organized. But it wasn't until 1983, when five nations simultaneously launched a challenge against the New York Yacht Club, that Louis Vuitton proposed associating their name with the most prestigious of international yachting competitions, and therefore became partner and co-organizer of the elimination series. Thus, the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series was born. The winner of the new trophy would earn the honor of challenging the Americans for the America's Cup. After 132 years of successfully defending the America's Cup, the New York Yacht Club lost it for the first time in 1983, to the winner of the first Louis Vuitton Cup. That was the year that the challengers Australia II overthrew the defender, Liberty and finally broke the Americans iron grip on the America's Cup. This is the 6th Louis Vuitton Cup to take place. Since the event was created, the winning syndicate of the Louis Vuitton Cup has gone on to win the America's Cup three out of five times. Louis Vuitton has become the unofficial guardian of the America's Cup image and has succeeded in maintaining a high level of involvement from the teams. The 2002-2003 challenger series has included nine challengers from six different countries, including France, Great Britain, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States, who came to Auckland to race for the Louis Vuitton Cup.

# # #

Alinghi, Challenge for the America's Cup 2003, is flying the Swiss flag and carrying the colors of the Société Nautique de Genève. UBS, Infonet, Audemars-Piguet and Riri are its proud sponsors.


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