Grand Prix Sailor–America’s Cup Edition

Alinghi Beats Oracle 4-0, Advances to Finals
Franck Socha/louis Vuitton

Grand Prix Sailor is a 13-year-old racing news publication of Sailing World
Magazine (http:// This AMERICA’S CUP EDITION is a weekly
summary of Cup action, brought to you this week by Steiner Binoculars and Tartan Yachts.

Bob Fisher’s Report from New Zealand

The members of Team New Zealand must be laughing their heads off at the antics of the remaining four teams in the Louis Vuitton Cup, as they go out into the Hauraki Gulf day after day, and all to no avail. Having set themselves strict wind limits in which races may be started – 7to19 knots, no less, no more – the challengers for the America’s Cup have reduced the opportunities to have full 18-mile races. There have now been 18 days lost out of a total of 48 possible scheduled racing days and only two days remain for the semi-finals to be completed.


Two races will be held each day and those four races will be enough to decide a winner between Alinghi and Oracle-BMW Racing as Alinghi is 3-0 up, but if OneWorld and Prada continue to alternate wins, the score could be 3-3 on Tuesday evening. If that were the case, the tie-breaking sail-off would be held on Wednesday.

While CORM Race Officer, Peter Reggio is quietly tearing out his hair, Team New Zealand’s mirth is generated by the knowledge that no such limits have been imposed by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. The defenders will race when the Race Officer, Harold Bennett, sees fit. Locals believe that the weather at this time can be much the same as it is now, and that the 2000 America’s Cup was held in unusually light winds.

The famous Tom Blackaller quote to Dennis Conner in 1987 rings true today, but this time for a New Zealander. Sean Reeves, the former Operations Manager of OneWorld is reportedly bitter that Team New Zealand took no action in the recent Arbitration Panel hearing and says that as a result the defender will lose the America’s Cup.


He alleges that TNZ could have produced a designer who would have provided further evidence against OneWorld, one who was summoned independently to analyse the various hull designs. The counsel for Stars & Stripes and Prada, Jim Farmer QC, said, “I would have called him if I could have, definitely.”

Reeves, however, has delivered a tirade against the attitude of TNZ, saying, “It is spineless. They basically have a lily-livered, gutless attitude in senior management. It will cost them the Cup.” As Blackaller would have said, “Whoops.”

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The semi-finals have seen some strange attitudes in the strategic decisions by the competitors, resulting in place changes. The strangest, perhaps, was in the second race between OneWorld and Prada. OneWorld led Prada going up the third windward led, but the Italian boat closed slightly with a shift from the left. When OneWorld came back to cover, it was in such a manner that Prada immediately went back, and the result was that by going deep that way, she picked another lefty and was ahead at the windward mark, going on to win the race.

Tactician Charlie McKee said of the incident, “We were sailing pretty loose – the conditions justified that. We got our lead by playing the wind and we didn’t shift into a covering mode.” Prada tactician, Torben Grael, was kind. “It’s all very well to say they made a mistake, but it is difficult to make a decision when you are sailing on a day like that.”

The following day, when Chris Dickson had taken over the steering of Oracle-BMW Racing and was looking as though he was going to change the fortune of the Farr designed boat after leading at the first four marks, he also failed to cover Alinghi when Coutts & Co took the Swiss boat out to the left on the final beat. The separation of half a mile was enough, when there was a shift to the left, to put Alinghi ahead.


Dickson talked about almost everything else that evening but avoided the issue of covering. He did, however admit that it was going to be difficult to win the Louis Vuitton Cup, if Oracle-BMW Racing has to come back through the repechage. “To race Alinghi a month from now,” he said, “we know we have to be stronger.”-Bob Fisher

Russell Coutts steered SUI-64 to a 4-0 sweep of Oracle in the Semifinals, ending the series with a 48-second win on a 4-leg, 12.5-mile race Monday morning. The Swiss team led from start to finish. Alinghi will meet the winner of the semifinal repechage on Jan. 11, 2003.

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OneWorld leads Prada 3-1 in the Semifinals after a 58-second win Monday morning and a 2m:32s win later that afternoon. Both races were 12.5-miles and 4 legs long OneWorld has won four of five races sailed, but only leads 3-1 due to the one-point penalty imposed by the America’s Cup Arbitration Panel.

Grand Prix Sailor and Grand Prix Sailor–America’s Cup Edition are weekly
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