AmericaOne New Zealand Chronicles:
Losing is Not An Option
About The Challenge
Daily Report - February 2, 2000-
Dear Friends & Supporters of AmericaOne,
A defining moment today on the Hauraki Gulf...a win by Prada meant a 4-1 deficit to AmericaOne (USA 61). An AmericaOne victory and a step closer to the America's Cup. The forecast was for 15-20 knots from 220. A shifty day, but past experience tells us that the right side of the track generally pays off. The weather program was also supporting this idea and so by start time the game plan was clear...win the right and when in doubt upwind, protect the right.
AmericaOne entered from starboard and Prada from port. The call was to dial up and hold Prada from getting to the right hand side. As both boats sat head to wind USA 61 did a better job of controlling the boat. Prada hedged on port and went for a highly aggressive move bearing off and trying to turn down and cross on port. Both boats dialed down at the same time and for a moment it looked as if a collision was certain... AmericaOne accelerated better and wiggled up, over Prada and gibed around behind. Y flags (requesting a ruling) were flown from both boats...only to be followed quickly by green flags (no penalty) from the umpires. Prada went for a quick reversal, AmericaOne anticipated the move and by the end of the two gybes downwind Prada was a boatlength in front on port with AmericaOne trailing. The call was still the right and as the trailing boat in this position it was obvious USA 61 was going to be leading back to the start. Prada tacked around to starboard, AmericaOne came up and tacked ahead to leeward. Prada began pushing AmericaOne back towards the start and while we were early, AmericaOne worked both boats toward the left hand side of the line with the idea of shifting right. Sounds easy...except Francesco and Torben had other ideas. Prada hooked AmericaOne to leeward and began to luff slowly. USA 61 responded perhaps a little to quickly and allowed Prada to slide forward to leeward. AmericaOne rolled into a tack to port and Prada followed. As I play this back in my mind it was a risky move as AmericaOne was below the layline to the committee boat. If Prada was close enough they could prevent AmericaOne from tacking back for the line. Without even hesitating AmericaOne sailed to the starboard layline for the committee boat and tacked. Prada came up to prevent AmericaOne from tacking but with no luck. While there was a lot of screaming and a Y flag flown from Prada... AmericaOne's execution was perfect. USA 61 wins the start convincingly and was in complete control of Prada.
Prada rolled immediately into a tack and AmericaOne followed. Sticking with the game plan AmericaOne was going to shift right if Prada tacked back to starboard. The real trick of this beat was forcing Prada out of phase and getting a shift ahead of them up the beat. When we elected not to cover and shift right this worked perfectly. Prada tacked back on our hip and when the right shift came through AmericaOne tacked, took the gain and forced Prada to tack again on our hip. A good break again for USA 61 as we would again gain when the wind went left. When the lefty came in AmericaOne tacked immediately...Prada chose to tack to leeward and not sail across this shift. Either way this was all good for AmericaOne as we were now in the position to bounce Prada all the way out to the starboard layline.
The first run was almost all starboard...the call was to bear-away set with a quick gybe. Unfortunately, AmericaOne could not quite execute the move. Prada was able to beat us to the gybe forcing AmericaOne to set up with breeze from behind. With 95% of this leg on starboard Prada was for sure going to gain and they did. By the leeward mark Prada was two boatlengths behind and pushing. It was time for AmericaOne to get crisp.
The second beat USA 61 was grooving...a course change to the right hinted at a wind shift in that direction. But oddly enough the breeze phased back to the left. AmericaOne quickly picked up on the trend and worked very hard on turning the two boatlength lead into a four boatlength lead. Prada was pushing hard but AmericaOne pushed back and by the windward mark AmericaOne had a four boatlength lead. Again a bear-away set with a quick gybe was called. This time USA 61 was determined to nail the move. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be... as Prada managed to turn our four boatlength lead into a one boatlength lead. The pressure was getting turned up...it was time for the AmericaOne Team to stop playing around and close the door on the Italians. As the race progressed down the third run the time was coming up for AmericaOne to gybe for the leeward mark. It was going to have to be sooner rather then later as Prada was in position to blanket USA 61. Paul called for a gybe and started to turn the boat down...Prada followed and committed harder to the turn then AmericaOne. Paul stopped the gybe and headed back up on starboard. Prada who was now struggling tried to turn back up. Recognizing that AmericaOne could get out of a synch Paul turned back and gibed to port. Prada followed again with a much more aggressive turn. A little too hard this time as Francesco lost control and spun Prada head to wind. A scary move to watch for sure, but the ability to spectate was limited as we had our hands full on USA 61. This mistake on Prada gave AmericaOne some breathing room.
With two laps left it was important for AmericaOne to throttle back. Through all of this fake gybing AmericaOne suffered some batten damage. With the high winds this was not going to make maneuvering very good as AmericaOne would run the risk of ripping the mainsail. From my perspective NOT GOOD! For the next two legs AmericaOne sailed as hard as possible but also preserved the assets. AmericaOne managed to win the race and score another valuable point. Bringing the series to 3 races for Prada and 2 races for AmericaOne.
It is still one race at a time at AmericaOne. We cannot afford any mistakes and we cannot let up. While today's performance was a win, I think the crew feels our performance was less then adequate. We have to do better, we WILL do better and losing is not an option!
AmericaOne is one of the leading challengers for America's Cup 2000. The team is currently competing in Auckland, New Zealand for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the right to challenge New Zealand for the America's Cup in February 2000. AmericaOne has built two boats based on 4 years of technology development and innovation. The top level technology partners are Hewlett-Packard Company, Telcordia Technologies/SAIC, Ford Motor Company/Visteon and United Technologies Corp. AmericaOne represents San Francisco's St. Francis Yacht Club. To learn more about AmericaOne visit: www.americaone.org.
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