Team Alinghi Up Three - Nil
The 31st America's Cup - Race Day 3
Team Alinghi Up Three - Nil
Alinghi managed the wind shifts and matched Team New Zealand with clinical precision at every step to win Race 3 from start to finish. Team New Zealand never gave up their efforts to create a passing opportunity, but the Swiss team finished 23 seconds ahead.
AUCKLAND - February 18, 2003 - Race 3 of the 31st America's Cup started on time at 13:15 under grey, overcast skies. The wind velocity oscillated between 9 and 18 knots throughout the day and the general northerly wind direction remained shifty. Eventually the sun broke through the black clouds, while the teams worked persistently on every new opportunity to strengthen their position. Alinghi won the match from start to finish, blending classic match racing tactics with the advantage of wind pressure. The Swiss team remained confident in their abilities, controlling the wind shifts as well as the moves of the opponent.
Team New Zealand was strong in boat speed and kept the game hot, but they couldn't out-sail Alinghi's experienced crew. Like master chess players, Alinghi was always thinking three steps ahead, and welcomed close confrontation. NZL 82 brought the heat from behind, but the attitude of Alinghi's crew was unruffled as they clamped a vigilant cover on the black boat to control the race. From time to time, the ever-shifting breezes opened room for Team New Zealand to make gains, and they attacked every chance they got, chipping away at Alinghi's lead. The race was a veritable test for the teams to grab the right shift. Alinghi planned ahead in the game, patiently calculating where to move their pieces on the board, concentrating on the next pocket of pressure. NZL 82 was tenacious in the tacking duels, but the Swiss held them in check.
The Alinghi weather team played a crucial role in the result by preparing the sailors with accurate data in changeable conditions. A key moment in the race occurred in the pre-start when SUI 64 pushed NZL 82 towards the left end of the line, to protect the right. Weather Team Coordinator John Bilger reported, "We made a clear call for the left hand side at 12 minutes to go. Two minutes later it had evened up, and at 7 minutes we told them there was a right hand shift coming down the course. They got a big jump, which made it easy for them. They were 120 meters ahead when they made the first dross, which is a pretty large margin and a good lead."
QUOTES FROM THE BOAT
JOCHEN SCHUEMANN, STRATEGIST - "Our intention was always to protect the right and in order to protect that side we had chosen, we pushed Team New Zealand towards the left of the line. We rotated two grinders today on the team (Will McCarthy and Kai Bjorn replaced Enrico de Maria and John Barnitt.) We have enough good sailors to allow us this ability."
KAI BJORN, GRINDER - "Everyone was giving it everything they had. It was tiring for us, and the guys on Team New Zealand. We've spent three years training in the gym with our trainers and they have worked hard to prepare us to make it happen. Everyone was so focused today."
BRAD BUTTERWORTH, TACTICIAN - "Murray Jones and Jochen Schuemann did a fabulous job. John Bilger, he's in charge of the weather program, sent us in the right direction. We had a good position at the start. We're up 3-0 now, and that makes a big difference. We've got an edge, which it makes it an easier task to keep going to five points. But we're far from perfect."
SPECIAL GUEST - OLIN STEPHENS - "It was truly a beautiful race today. My feeling is that the two boats are similar in performance. I think also that Russell Coutts is a magician at the helm. It is very difficult to defeat him, especially since he has a very good boat. But on the other hand, Team New Zealand also has a very good team."
American Olin Stephens is a naval architect, aged 95, who has designed 8 winning America's Cup boats between 1937 and 1980.
HIGHLIGHT - CHRISTIAN KARCHER
"The sailors, the weather team, the shore team, the designers, today everybody was good enough. Alinghi sailed a faultless race, defending perfectly for the whole race. The weather team gave good information that proved right at least twice. Before the start we wanted the right hand side of the course, we earnt it, we worked it and we won with it. Five minutes into the race we had a 120 metre lead. For the last leg our weather team had predicted a building breeze, up to 18-20 knots. Again it is exactly what happened. Well done! At the last weather mark we could choose a symmetrical spinnaker and not an A-sail. We therefore had the perfect sail for the last leg. With this weather information the sailing team were really confident for the last leg. Running downwind in 20 knots of wind is a lot easier than in 12 knots, as had been the situation for the second race when Team New Zealand had been ahead and we attacked. Well done also to the design team. The concept is faultless a!
nd SUI-64 is always fast. The shore team has also done an amazing job. We haven't had a single breakdown. After two hours of racing the boat is like new. If we had to race again right now we would be ready. This victory was earned by 95 people who went out and grabbed it. Everyone in Alinghi won this point. It has been a great day!"
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