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AmericaOne New Zealand Chronicles:
If I Can Just Get the Lid Off

Daily Report - Tuesday, December 28, 1999 -

Auckland, NZ

As I write, the ace bandages that are holding the ice packs on my shoulders are starting to cut off the circulation to my arms. The ice feels soooooo good on my inflamed shoulder muscles that I don't dare remove them. My desk chair feels better than ever before. Josh is laughing at me, reminding me that when we sailed together on America3 in 1992, I would have considered the sailing today a piece of cake. Yup, Buddha Bob went out on USA 49 today. Not only did I go, I replaced one of the grinders who is sick. Furthermore, not only did I go as a grinder, I went on race practice day. We have spent almost all of our time since Round Robin 3 performing two-boat testing. This involves long sets of controlled straight line sailing orchestrated by the over-caffeinated performance analysis team. We have made a lot of progress in evolving, refining and optimizing the configuration of USA 61, now it's time to race.

Paul wants to do 40 starts and 20 races before the beginning of the Semi-Finals. It looks like we are well on our way to hitting his goal. Donnie and his team of tender drivers become the race committee, Tom Ehman, our rules advisor is the umpire and we go AT IT for hours on end! Nothing like a little inter-squad scrimmage to get the boys' juices flowing. This is full-pads, full contact America's Cup racing. Enter the starting box at five minutes before the gun and duke it out for the end of the line you think is favored. Dial-ups, dial-downs, circling, luffing, swearing, sweating and the occasional exchange of compliments between members of the opposing crews. Paul and John (the Golden Boys) are sailing together on USA 61, so, being aboard USA 49, I had the pleasure of being inducted in to Gavin Brady's Mafia. A rather eclectic group of Kiwis, Dutchmen and Pommies(myself counting in as one of the latter). It's pretty hard to understand them, but I managed to hear Gavin say "stand by" before we tacked and thats all I really needed to know.

We did a practice start where we sailed for two or three minutes upwind after the start, then returned to Commodore Donnie who fired another gun from the Race Committee Boat, so that we could begin a second start, racing to the weather mark three miles up in the breeze. We set kites and finished down wind and, then, repeated the entire exercise all over again. Six starts and three races today. The Mafia did pretty well. In the first race, we won the pin end and secured the lead, we had the Golden Boys on the ropes all the way up the beat and down most of the run. We were on the wrong side of a huge shift on our last leg into the finish and the little darlings just squeaked in front of us across the line. In the second race, they trounced us at the start and hammered us all the way around the track. The third race, the Mafia had to resort to its secret weapon, blind luck. They were good at the start as they pinched us off and forced us right. Right into a nice righty puff. 49 was roped up and sailing in a good three knots stronger pressure. We hooked into another good shift and the Mafia was gone.

This is what the Mafia is paid to do - push the Golden Boys. 49 was sailing as fast as any of the competition in Round Robin 3. With one of the fastest boats in the fleet, the Mafia is pushing Paul and John on 61 pretty hard. They cannot make a single mistake without being jumped by the Mafia. The results are encouraging. By the time the Mafia gets through this week of practicing, the Golden Boys are going to be pretty tough, pretty smart and pretty fast.

Going down the run to the finish of the third race, Mafia Godfather Gavin consulted with his trusted lieutenants on whether or not we would have a fourth race. You should have seen my smile, when, the call came over the radio to head for the barn. I was exhausted. I didn't have another tack, jibe or set left in me. Although I did have just enough energy to drive the boat downwind for a mile or two! It was a great feeling. Great because I had survived the day without screwing up, great because it was such fun to be racing again and great because I am really happy with where our program is right now. If I can just get the lid off this damn Advil bottle, I'll be set...............

Bob Billingham
AmericaOne COO

About The Challenge

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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Select here for the Louis Vuitton Cup Chronicles
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Select here for Jan-Feb. 1999 New Zealand Training Chronicles


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