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Semi-Finals - Alinghi 3 Vs Oracle 0

Louis Vuitton Cup - Semi-Finals - Alinghi 3 Vs Oracle 0

THREE MATCH POINTS In a fantastically close race, Alinghi wrested control from Oracle BMW Racing on the fifth leg, coming from behind to defeat the Americans by 46 seconds.

AUCKLAND - December 12, 2002 - Northerly winds of 13-16 knots made for good sailing conditions for the third match of the Louis Vuitton Cup semi-finals, despite the rain that poured down on the racecourse. A notable crew change saw Chris Dickson at the wheel of USA-76 and Peter Holmberg, helmsman for the first two semi-final matches, nowhere to be found. The American team dominated the majority of the race, but relinquished their lead on the fifth leg, when Alinghi found better breeze and sailed away.

Alinghi was cool under pressure in the starting sequence, unruffled by Chris Dickson's known talent at the helm. In the windward position, Dickson luffed Alinghi, aggresively trying to pin a penalty on the Swiss team. But Russell Coutts ducked Dickson's swing, and the two boats crossed the line nearly simultaneously.

Alinghi had a slight speed advantage off the line and took the early lead, but Oracle patiently waited for the slight right hand shift that lifted USA-76 over Alinghi on the first beat. From then on, Oracle BMW Racing expertly covered their opponent, despite a fierce tacking duel up the first leg. Oracle kept Alinghi in check on the next downwind leg, as the boats virtually surfed down waves on the Hauraki Gulf. Alinghi tried to engage Dickson in a gybing duel, hoping to create an opportunity to make a gain, but without success. The afterguard on Alinghi never gave up. They saw their chance to pounce during the third upwind leg. The breeze went left, which was exactly what the Swiss were looking for. They split tacks and gained a significant separation on their opponent. Alinghi won the lead with the shift, improving their delta from the 4th mark, 14 seconds behind Oracle, to 17 seconds ahead at the 5th mark. There was no stopping the Swiss team on the final run, as Alinghi pointed lower and sailed faster in the 14-knot breeze and skillfully protected their lead to win by 46 seconds.

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WARWICK FLEURY, MAINSAIL TRIMMER - "It was a very tough race and we got behind on the first leg. But it was important to keep in touch. We waited for our opportunity and luckily it happened and we got ahead. On the third beat we were on split tacks and it gave us more room to maneuver. The shift went left, and it all went our way. The crew work was very good, they performed some good tacks, and the afterguard positioned the boat well. We're just going to try to keep it going this way, we just have to get one more point, then we can relax."

JOSH BELSKY, PITMAN - "Brad [Butterworth] and Russell [Coutts] never let up. We were always looking for a way to get out of Oracle's control and on the third beat we saw our opportunity. Oracle was shoving us out to the left, but Murray Jones noticed that there was more pressure on the left and we went there."

BRAD BUTTERWORTH, TACTICIAN - "From the beginning, we thought that the left hand side was more favourable, but on the first beat it proved to be a mistake and Oracle took the advantage. On the second beat the variations of wind were more homogeneous and on the third beat it was quite clearly the left hand side that paid, and we benefited from that. We took every opportunity to keep it close and we were looking for opportunities the whole time."

HIGHLIGHT Propulsion : To adjust or to "pump" - a subtle but important difference

In conditions that allow the boats to surf down big waves on the downwind run, the temptation is great to "pump" the sails to create propulsion. What does "pumping" refer to? It is when the teams manually create more forward thrust on the boat as it surfs downwind. Generally, the basic rule [42.1] forbids "pumping," stating that, a boat shall compete by using only the wind and water to increase, maintain or decrease her speed. Her crew may adjust the trim of sails and hull and perform other acts of seamanship, but shall not otherwise move their bodies to propel the boat.

However, there is an exception to the rule [42.3 (b)]. When surfing (rapidly accelerating down the leeward side of a wave) downwind or planing is possible, the boat's crew may pull the sheet and the guy controlling any sail in order to initiate surfing or planing, but only once for each wave or gust of wind.

It is unknown whether the America's Class yachts can surf, because they weigh 25 tons and their hulls are round, reason enough for the teams to be prudent and refrain from trying to make the boats surf.


DOUBLE CHANCE BOARD Alinghi 2 VS Oracle BMW Racing 1 SINGLE CHANCE BOARD OneWorld 2 VS Prada 1

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