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Act 2 Louis Vuitton Marseille

by Team Alinghi 10 Sep 2004 23:34 BST 10 September 2004

In spite of an easy victory against the South-Africans, the second day in the match racing series was tough for the Swiss. Compromised by a torn genoa, Team Alinghi was at the mercy of its adversary from the last America's Cup. With this defeat, any chance Alinghi had of winning Act 1 is now gone, to the advantage of BMW Oracle Racing, who will definitely take first place on the podium. The fight for second place is very tight between SUI-64 and NZL-82. To take it, the Swiss will have to win on Saturday against the overall leader.

September 10, 2004 - Marseilles: An air of revenge blew this afternoon on the Rade Sud of the city Phocéenne. The first match of the day began between the finalists of the last America's Cup, won in 2003, 5 to 0, by Alinghi. After a start marked by a lengthy dial-up, the Swiss boat favoured the right side which it had defended for several minutes. According to tactician Brad Butterworth, the strategy was that if the wind swung to the right, it would benefit SUI-64. If it swung to the left as it has each day since the beginning of Act 1, it would benefit NZL 82. But the Swiss intuition paid off and crossed the line 20 meters ahead of the Kiwis.

But, nine minutes after the start, the Alinghi genoa ripped on a spreader. Teflon tape protecting an abrasive end of the spreader was damaged during the dial-up, when the boats were headed into the wind. It was a hard blow for Alinghi and a stroke of luck for the New Zealanders who were able to pass to take the lead. However, it only took 20 seconds for the Swiss crew to lower the old and hoist a new genoa and to set out again with in pursuit of NZL-82.

The lost 20 seconds proved to be irreversible for the Swiss, even though SUI-64 were able to make some time on the Kiwis on the first leg. On the second leg, the Kiwis, in a favorable position, chose the left side, which they defended tirelessly. Alinghi, in a compromised position out on the right, was unable to make up crucial time. The wind shifted to the left and with more breeze at the top of the course, NZL-82 was able to maintain its lead on the Swiss. The Kiwis headed to victory and Alinghi crossed the line 13 seconds behind Emirates Team New Zealand. "We lost because of the torn genoa," explained Jochen Schuemann, strategist on board Alinghi. "We were in the lead and in a good position which would have enabled us to win."

In the match that saw both French teams up against each other, the Challenge had a perfect start and sailed well to win its first race 30 seconds in front of K-Challenge, putting the Challenge in fifth position place overall. The Americans, as expected, beat Team Shosholoza. Alinghi's second match against the South-Africans was much more calm. During the start, the Swiss proceeded in traditional match racing manner with a dial-up then circling. But Team Shosholoza appeared not to want to play the game. SUI-64 was able to easily start to the left, accelerated, to cover the older boat, class of 2000. The Swiss crossed the line with 3' 33 ahead. Out on the water, the scenario was much the same, as the two other teams in Race 3 of Act 1, BMW Racing Oracle and Emirates Team New Zealand overcame the two challengers of the weaker group, respectively, K-Challenge and the Challenge.

Tomorrow, Alinghi will meet the overall leader, BMW Oracle Racing. This match will be the decision maker. If SUI-64 wins, it will finish Act 1 in second position in front of the Kiwis. If not, Alinghi will finish in third place, after Emirates Team New Zealand. All results can be found at

Overall Results:
1st, BMW Racing Oracle, 46 points;
2nd, Alinghi 38 points;
3rd, Emirates Team New Zealand 36 points;
4th, K-Challenge 17 points;
5th, the Challenge 11 points;
6th Team Shosholoza 8 points.

Quotes for the day:
Jochen Schuemann, strategist for Team Alinghi: We could have won. We were doing everything well and had a good lead. But we tore the genoa and were unable to follow Emirates Team New Zealand like that. We had to take it down and put another up. We lost a lot of time, even though we did succeed in catching them. Either way, it was one of our best regattas of the match race series here. At the end of the day we lost because of the genoa. This is something that never happened to us during the America's Cup.

Christian Karcher, grinder for Team Alinghi and observer today: During the dial-up, the genoa came in contact with a place on the spreader that was wrapped in teflon scotch tape protecting the abrasive part of the end of the spreader. It was this half-centimetre or less which then tore the mylar of the very new genoa. The final result was decided right there.

Rolf Vrolijk, principal designer for Team Alinghi: It is the first time that the two finalists of the America' s Cup have met again in a competition. It is exceptional. The New Zealanders and the Swiss know each other well. They had some aggressive training days together before the start of this Act. Typically, they never sail against each other. It's really interesting to watch them sail together in this situation although it's obviously not the same as the real Cup, during which all the teams are at their best. The boats and the sails are optimized to the maximum. Here, it is not the case, except for BMW Oracle Racing, who has been training and testing for the past year.