Auckland report


Ed Gorman looks ahead to Round Robin Two of the Louis Vuitton Cup
The gloves, one suspects are about to come off in the Louis Vuitton Cup. After a first round when many of the syndicates were playing it conservatively, the second round which starts in full on Wednesday, should witness more aggressive racing and thus more drama too. While the top-three teams, OneWorld, Alinghi and Oracle may well continue trying to sail "safe", the same cannot be expected from the four teams below them, locked in a tight battle for the fourth spot in December's semi-final round. The GBR Challenge, Prada, the Victory Challenge and Team Dennis Conner will be at each other's throats, as the pecking order going into next month's quarters is finally established. People are already talking about "must-win" races, something we didn't hear too much about during the first round. So from the off, there are going to be some real humdingers, starting, from a British perspective, with a clash with Stars & Stripes when Peter Harrison's GBR Challenge crew will be looking to avenge their defeat at the hands of Conner's team in the first match of the first round. The Brits sailed conservatively on that occasion but events since have convinced them they can beat Ken Read's crew and they will be hunting hard for that first vital point. It is difficult, at this stage, to pick which one of the middle four ismost likely to go through. Prada is probably the biggest unknown because both its boats are undergoing surgery to varying degrees, as syndicate head Patrizio Bertelli tries to recover from what he is convinced are two slow Luna Rossas. But it's all happening very late in the day and there is plenty of scope for further setbacks and wrong turns in the design road for Prada. On the other hand, the expertise and money is there for the embattled

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