Oracle/BMW Racing and Victory Challenge pair off in the Hauraki Gulf

The two syndicates keep mum about the results

Bert Willborg/victory Challenge

Victory Challenge and OracleBMW Racing got a chance to compare boatspeed Monday, sailing four races with four boats on the Blue Race Circle on the Hauraki Gulf. The results? Top secret, per an agreement reached before the races were held. But that didn't stop Victory Challenge from letting a little information slip by. "Now we know we're on a par with and have the capacity to beat a team like Oracle BMW," said Mats Johansson, skipper and strategist aboard Örn (SWE 63). "It's an important verification."

With only 27 days to go before the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup, every team is out practicing. Bert Wilborg of Victory Challenge, described the activity in a press release on the team’s website, www.victorychallenge.com. "Mascalzone Latino and Alinghi both passed through the blue course area. Alinghi had just finished their sail against OneWorld. GBR Challenge had both their boats out. Team New Zealand were out as well with NZL 60, winning boat in the America’s Cup 2000, which was testing against their first new boat, NZL 81."

As USA-77 is having its bow replaced and USA-66 is having its first shakedown sail on the Hauraki Gulf, you may have expected Stars and Stripes team leader Dennis Conner to be in New Zealand watching over his flotilla. But DC has other fish to fry this week and will instead be in Long Beach, Calif., defending his Etchells 22 World Champion title. Seven races will be sailed to decide the new champion and with strong players in the fleet like 1998 world champion, Canadian Dirk Kneulman, and two-time North American champion Jud Smith, Conner will have his hands full. To follow the action, see: www.abyc.org/2002REGATTAS/ETCHELLSNA/Etchells.html