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America’s Cup News 9/16/02

Keep up with the latest from New Zealand

September 16, 2002
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Shipping difficulties are slowing the delivery of the new bow for Team Stars & Stripes boat USA-77, which will certainly affect the team’s hopeful timetable for the re-launch of 77. According to sources at New England Boatworks, as of Monday morning, the bow had not yet arrived in New Zealand.

Dennis Conner is back in New Zealand, even if the bow isn’t. Fresh from his victory in the Etchells North Americans, DC will celebrate his 60th birthday in the Southern Hemisphere.

On Saturday, Victory Challenge lined up with Oracle BMW racing and raced in “extremely gusty and changing” conditions. The wind was blowing 12-18 knots and shifted through 30 degrees. For the test races, the course had been laid with the first leg upwind and the second downwind, just as it will be for the America’s Cup starting with the Louis Vuitton Cup challenge competition on October 1. “We had an incredibly hard fight in the first match, especially the first run”, said Victory project manager Mats Johansson. “The matches developed into a good training session for the strategist as well as the tactician.” But it was Oracle/BMW that took the initiative ahead of the last run.

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Magnus Holmberg was the helmsman with Espen Stokkeland navigating, Stefan Rahm doing tactics, and Mats Johansson on strategy. Besides Saturday’s match against Oracle BMW Racing, last week’s opponents for the Victory Challenge team have included Mascalzone Latino, Le Défi Areva and Prada. www.victorychallenge.com

Kiwi sailors who left Team New Zealand and signed up with challengers for the 2003 America’s Cup may have felt that they’d successfully dodged the local public opinion bullet, especially after a series of complementary articles in the New Zealand Herald recently. Think again. A New Zealand effort that goes by the name Blackheart is ramping up a fundraising campaign for Team New Zealand that targets the defectors.

According to xtramsn.com, Dave Walden, spokesman for Blackheart, says the campaign came out of a feeling that Team New Zealand is battling on an uneven playing field in its defense of the Cup. He says that the other syndicates not only have more money, but an intimate knowledge of Team New Zealand’s technology. Walden states that there will be a bit of ribbing of the defectors on t-shirts and bumper stickers.

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Rumor Central
The latest rumors floating around the Hauraki Gulf include such gems as:

A possible forward rudder on Team New Zealand’s boats, substantiated by a comment by German Frers Jr. on CNN’s most recent Inside Sailing–A show not broadcast in the U.S. “I think TNZ probably have a single forward rudder (and not two). There are some advantages with this design that a big well-organized syndicate could try.” There are also some references being made about a canard or rudder on one of the Swedish boats but that particular bit of info could be a spoof by the Victory Syndicate themselves.

With a lot of practice racing on the Hauraki Gulf, there are some unsubstantiated results escaping the press lock-down. The boys on Alinghi are hard to beat, the French had some headsail and rule problems while racing Victory Challenge, and even though the Swedes are under an agreement not to release results, they just can’t help saying things like:
“The other syndicates do not want us to tell the results from our racing with them because that would frequently be bad press for them.”

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