Grand Prix Sailor--America’s Cup Edition

SUI-64, USA-76 Get The Nod

Bob Grieser/louis Vuitton

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

BOB FISHER’S REPORT FROM NEW ZEALAND

SKIRT LIFTING TIME
Tuesday in Auckland is designated as "Unveiling Day", the time when the covers come off the underbodies of the two challengers who will battle out the Louis Vuitton Cup, and, to even things up for first time in this competition, the defender of the America's Cup.

First to reveal will be the Swiss syndicate, Alinghi, followed by Oracle-BMW Racing and then Team New Zealand, but what will they show? There is an increasing belief in and around "Syndicate Row" that the appendage issue may turn out to be nothing but hype. The argument against the use of false hulls is that there is no way that they can be made sufficiently rigid to pass the rules of the America’s Cup Class, which insist that there shall be no part of them touching the hull more than 500mm either side of the centerline.

Alinghi will certainly direct questioning towards any suggestion of flexing of a hull appendage and may suggest the use of some form of instant marking by the extremities of the false hull on to the canoe body, should any flexing take place. The pressure on those extremities is considerable, bearing in mind that there is 20 tons of lead on the bottom of the keel.

What is expected is that neither Alinghi, with undoubtedly SUI-64, nor Oracle-BMW Racing, with USA-76 as a certainty, will exhibit a hull with a false hull appendage, since these will be the boats that they have to use in the Louis Vuitton Cup final, starting on Saturday, but that Team New Zealand will exhibit two boats, definitely NZL-81 and NZL-82, one with the false hull appendage and one without, since it does not have to make a final choice between its two boats until February 11th.

BELOW THE BELT
Minorities often prove dangerous to democracy the very philosophy that seeks to protect them, but there are some that should not be tolerated. Such a one is abroad in Auckland and its perpetrators deserve to be punished.

Threats have been received at the Alinghi headquarters which have targeted the families of members of the team that previously were with Team New Zealand, threats that have no place in the civilised world, yet there seems to be little in the way of action on the part of the authorities to bring the culprits to heel, at least if the reaction of the Police and the relevant Government departments is the barometer.

When young children’s safety is threatened there should be a universal abhorrence, but the local media has hardly done more than acknowledge the media release from Alinghi that complaints had been made to the New Zealand Police about these threats against children and family members of the team.

Michel Bonnefous, the Executive Director of the Alinghi Challenge, is hardly a man to raise the issue without justification, and he believes that the letters that have been received arise from a group of so-called patriotic activists. These hot-headed extremists must be found rapidly as they threaten to damage team members’ property and inflict violence on their families.

The Police, in a move that displays little positivity, has asked Alinghi that the personnel cited in the letters are not named.

This affair has no place in the America’s Cup and has developed from the Blackheart campaign, where a patriotic activist group sought to air its objections to the defection of Russell Coutts and other high-profile members of the winning Team New Zealand in 2000 to, in particular, Alinghi, seeing their move as a threat to the retention of the America’s Cup by New Zealand.

This xenophobia has spread and there is even a breakaway group that calls itself, Teach The Traitors A Lesson. Whether it is this group that is responsible for the threats to children is unsure, but the one lesson that has to be learned is that the America’s Cup is a professional sporting event and there is no place for extremist behaviour among dissident supporters’ groups.-Bob Fisher

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TEAM ALINGHI WILL SAIL SUI-64 IN LVC FINALS
On Jan. 6, a day before the official unveiling ceremony, Team Alinghi, announced they would use SUI-64 for the Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup against Oracle. According to the Protocol, if Alinghi defeats Oracle in the Finals, SUI-64 will also be their boat for the America's Cup.

"We have developed SUI-75 and SUI-64 together," said Alinghi’s Design Team Coordinator Grant Simmer, "but the reason we are using 64 in the Final of the Louis Vuitton Cup is that we have continued to develop that boat and it is moded slightly differently. We expect a range of conditions in the Finals and believe it is the best boat for us to perform throughout that wind range. The changes we’ve made since we launched the boat in November 2001 have constantly improved the boat, from the hull to the appendages. It was a tough decision between the two boats, and it’s sad to see such a fast boat as SUI-75, that we have put so much effort into, won’t be used in an official race."

The choice of SUI-64 will help substantiate dockside rumours that have been circling about SUI-75, namely that the Swiss team’s second ride has never measured in as a legal ACC boat.

The unveiling ceremony can be followed directly via a live Alinghi webcast beginning 8:45 am NZ time. In other time zones, West Coast of the States: Monday 6, 11:45 am; East Coast of the States: Monday 6, 2:45 pm. http://www.alinghi.com

ORACLE CHOOSES USA-76
In a late report, Bob Fisher is reporting that Oracle/BMW Racing have nominated USA-76 as their choice for the Finals. Fisher also reports that SUI-75, the boat that Alinghi chose not to use, is the boat with the Kiwi Clip-On mounted.

DATES TO REMEMBER
Oracle will face Alinghi in the Louis Vuitton Finals beginning Jan. 11. The Finals will be a best-of-nine series to determine which team will meet the America's Cup defenders Team New Zealand on Feb. 15.

Grand Prix Sailor and Grand Prix Sailor--America’s Cup Edition are weekly newsletters compiled by the editors of Sailing World magazine. If you’d like to subscribe, see http://www.sailingworld.com Contributing Editors: Tony Bessinger (tony.bessinger@sailingworld.com), Dave Reed (dave.reed@sailingworld.com), Stuart Streuli (stuart.streuli@sailingworld.com), John Burnham (john.burnham@sailingworld.com)