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Quarter-Finals, Alinghi 1 - Prada 0

Quarter-Finals, Alinghi 1 - Prada 0

Action-Adventure Story For Alinghi And Prada There was plenty of action in Race Day 1 of the Quarter-Finals, and the clash of European challengers. The hotly contested match between Alinghi and the Italian team, Prada Challenge was packed with drama.

AUCKLAND - November 13, 2002 - The first race day of the quarter-finals finally got underway at 15:10 local time, once the southerly sea breeze filled in on the racecourse to provide spectacular racing conditions. Prada Challenge was sailing their familiar boat ITA-74, having made major modifications to the boat and sails between rounds. Their speed proved threatening in the first confrontation.

With the south wind blowing at 16 knots, the boats pushed and circled each other, hitting the start line at full speed. Prada took control of the favored right side, earning an early advantage. Both boats were on starboard tack, and the Swiss team pushed hard to force helmsman Francesco de Angelis, winner of the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup, to tack off to avoid a lee-bow situation. The Swiss charged ahead, crossing cleanly into the protection of the right side, where they found better breeze and more pressure. The first mark rounding was tight and nerve-racking, and both teams showed excellent crewmanship.

The Alinghi afterguard could feel Prada breathing down their necks. De Angelis bore down fiercely on the run, creating an overlap on the black-and-red boat, and suddenly the Italians incurred a penalty when they hit the starboard side of Alinghi's stern. From then on, Prada re-doubled their efforts to gain room to complete their penalty turn with enough time to finish the race !

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ahead. The Italians kept it hot for Alinghi on the second run, when Alinghi was to the left and Prada, on the inside, gybed and capitalized on a small shift, rolled Alinghi and inched into the lead. Prada rounded the leeward mark on the inside and broke Alinghi's cover. On the dash to the finish, Alinghi vigilantly kept their noses clean and avoid any skirmishes with the opponent, defeating Prada Challenge in the first race of this best of seven series by 1:18. EB


BRAD BUTTERWORTH, TACTICIAN - "Prada got their penalty when they were trying to gybe from starboard to port behind us. We still had to sail the same race because we easily could have incurred a penalty ourselves. An opponent's penalty doesn't mean you are secure. There are some things we could have done better, I think that we can improve on our crew work and communication."

JOSH BELSKY, PITMAN - "The penalty didn't change our strategy, we still had to fight and compete. It does make you more conservative, though, especially on the last leg because you don't want to risk anything. There was no moment when we could relax."

WARWICK FLEURY, MAINSAIL TRIMMER - "We were really happy with our boat speed, we think we have a slight edge, but we have some work to do in other areas where we're rusty after the break between rounds. Even though we had good boat speed, in the shifty conditions, the opponent has the opportunity to extend on a shift."


The defining moment of the match between Switzerland and Italy happened when Prada incurred a penalty on the first downwind run. Aggressively pursuing Alinghi, Francesco de Angelis bore down on the lead boat, trying to place himself directly between the wind and his Swiss opponent to cover them and steal their pressure. (On the downwind legs, the chasing boat usually has the advantage of getting the new breeze.) Instead of ducking behind their transom to create an opportunity to luff Alinghi, Prada created an overlap. In an apparent miscommunication between the helmsman and the bowman signaling the distance between the two boats, the Italians sailed into Alinghi and hit the starboard stern. As the windward boat, they had to keep clear of the Swiss to leeward. The error meant that Prada was obliged to execute a 270º penalty turn before crossing the finish. From then on, Prada's strategy became clear: in order to defeat Alinghi, they had to clear their own penalty by forcing !

one on Alinghi, even if it meant taking some risks in keeping the race very close. A penalty turn takes approximately 25-30 seconds to complete, which means that as the penalized boat you have to be at least 25 seconds ahead in the given conditions in order to win the race. In the other matches, OneWorld and Stars & Stripes also incurred penalties.

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