Alinghi Passes Up Two Tough Races To Oracle
Moet Cup, San Francisco, September 16, 2003
ALINGHI PASSES UP TWO TOUGH RACES TO ORACLE
Sharing the exhilarating conditions out on San Francisco Bay on Team Alinghi today as guest on board SUI-64 was the highly talented yachtswoman Ellen McArthur, sharing her skills as a helmsperson with skipper Jochen Schuemann in pre-start manoeuvers. A strong breeze and flood conditions set the scene for today’s Moet Cup pro driver races. A small craft weather advisory announced earlier in the day for San Francisco Bay suggested racing may not happen but a first start got underway just before 2pm in 18 knots of breeze which built to 25 knots during Race 2. Combined with a strong flood tide, conditions were very challenging.
An aggressive start by Oracle with starboard advantage saw Alinghi trail the American team for the duration of the race by only several boat lengths with the final delta just 27 seconds and as narrow as 20 seconds at the fourth mark. The Bay offered up a one-sided race course as both teams hugged Alcatraz on one side or the city front on the other to avoid the strong currents. With Oracle controlling the favored right side from the outset and making no mistakes, there were few opportunities for Alinghi to outmanouever Oracle.
Alinghi blew a jib line on approach to the start that forced them to tack away and do a speedy line replacement, disrupting their start. Then, adding insult to injury, both Alinghi and Oracle were over the start line early. Unfortunately, with USA-76 between SUI-64 and the committee boat, the Alinghi crew was unable to see both yellow and blue flags raised, giving Oracle bonus time to get back to the line and restart. The boats immediately separated off the start, Alinghi headed directly over the city front while Oracle went for the core hiding behind Alcatraz. With the heavy wind and tide change it was difficult to judge which part of the course would pay off. Once committed to the city front Alinghi found it tough to break out to the right, particularly with Oracle fiercely protecting that side. Alinghi found good speed on the downwind legs, putting up an aggressive show on the roundings and picking up good time. With nothing to lose on the final beat to the finish,! Alinghi initiated a tacking duel with USA-76 to crossing 24 seconds behind the American team.
Brad Butterworth, tactician: “If you can’t get control from the start, it is almost impossible to pass on this Bay. We only have one option – wait until our opponent makes a mistake. But Oracle is making very few.”
Curtis Blewett, sewerman: “On this course the legs are very short which makes my work very busy. The spinnaker is up and then it’s down again, then the jib has to go up and then it’s down again – there’s hardly time to breathe.”
Ellen McArthur: “It was very different but just great. I’m really impressed with the atmosphere on board Alinghi – it’s very nice. I got to steer for two tacks before the pre-start which was really exciting. It looks easier from the outside but once you’re on the boat you can see how complicated it is on an America’s Cup boat.”
Pro Regatta, 16 September
Alinghi: 0 – Oracle: 2 Delta: 27 seconds then 24 seconds
Alinghi: 1 – Oracle: 3
Owner/driver regatta – no race today
Alinghi: 0 – Oracle: 1
The Alinghi Team flies the Swiss flag and carries the colours of the Société Nautique de Genève. It is backed by UBS and Infonet, as well as Audemars Piguet and Riri.
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