Ding Ding, Round Five
The loser gets another chance, racing the winner of the Prada vs OneWorld pairing in the Semi-Final Repecharge, which will start on the 20th December. The loser of the Prada vs OneWorld semi final match goes home.
This weekend sees the first stage of the legal wranglings against OneWorld. The Arbitration Panel are convening this weekend, because of this the International Jury, who are dealing with Team Dennis Conner's protest against OneWorld, will not rule on that until after this weekend decision by the Arbitration Panel. In summary, a complicated situation, and we will attempt to deciper the outcome in due course.
Anyway, back to the racing.
Firmly esablished as the favourites at this stage of the Louis Vuitton Cup, Alinghi's Russell Coutts airs his views on the forthcoming semi-finals.
RC on the semi-finals race against Oracle BMW:
We're expecting some very tough races against Oracle BMW racing and I have a huge respect for the team. They very convincingly beat One World 4-0 in the quarter-finals so they're going to be very confident. Oracle are a team with many strengths and not too many weaknesses and we've seen that they recover extremely well after a problem such as a broken pole for example. We expect that they've made modifications to their boat and the racing is going to be extremely close.
RC on Chris Dickson:
There's no doubt that Chris has strengthened the Oracle team. Before he came back they were at a stage where they had lost some races and perhaps needed an outside opinion to steady the ship again. I think he has also brought with him great organizational skills and having Chris back has obviously worked extremely well for Oracle.
RC on Prada versus One World:
This is going to be a really even match and it's impossible to make a prediction on the outcome. Prada have vastly improved their performance. It looked like they were going to struggle at one stage but they've made major improvements and have shown they're a force to be reckoned with. One World have been through a hard match with Oracle and I think that will strengthen them and they'll come out stronger. So both teams are progressing and improving and I think it depends which team really fights the hardest.
RC on modifications to SUI64 and SUI75:
Obviously having 3 weeks off racing has been a huge benefit to us and actually the lack of wind has worked out perfectly. It's meant that we have been able to take SUI75 out of commission and carry out some major modifications to the boat in a logical and precise way. We've also been working on improving some of the rigging elements, amongst other things. These are changes we've been planning for a while and it has been great to get the opportunity to implement them. I've been really impressed by some of the things that Rolf (Vrolijk) and his team have come up with and it's been an intensive time for everyone especially the design team and the shore crew.
The time off has also been an opportunity to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and although it's difficult to look beyond the 2003 Cup we're also trying to think about the future.
We still haven't decided on which boat to use and it will depend on how the modifications to SUI75 go.
RC on the Alinghi Crew:
We're probably going to make fewer changes in the crew at his stage as we have been trying to keep the sub-units together so they continue to communicate well. We may move Pete Van Nieuwenhuyzen further back in the boat as we feel he has more vision there but is still in a position to help on the bow if needed. I don't consider nationality as an issue in crew selection - the best sailors will be on the boat regardless of the country they come from.
RC on the One World affair:
To be honest I haven't been paying much attention to it, but I do think it's detrimental for the Cup and it's a pity it wasn't all resolved in September. Everyone wants to see this battle resolved on the water and I disagree with comments that suggest lawyers determine the outcome of the Cup.