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AmericaOne Quokka Chronicles:

Declarations of War
by Steve McMorran, Quokka Sports

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Thursday, January 20, 2000 -

Auckland, NZ

By nightfall tomorrow, much will be known about the challenger finalists and the defender of the America's Cup -- including design aspects that, until now, have been the subject of strictest secrecy.

At three separate unveiling ceremonies on Friday, challengers AmericaOne and Prada, and Cup defender Team New Zealand will reveal to the media and the public -- and most importantly to each other -- the keel and rudder configurations previously veiled from prying eyes.

Before that, however, the two challengers were required to declare which boat they'll take into battle in the Louis Vuitton Cup finals. This evening AmericaOne declared USA-61, while Prada declared ITA-45.

AmericaOne's decision seemed a foregone conclusion. The team's second boat, USA-61, won the semifinals with an 8-2 record, showing great acceleration and solid speed in a wide array of conditions.

Prada's choice, on the other hand, seemed more difficult. Its first Luna Rossa, ITA-45, posted a 19-1 record in the first two round robins before being replaced by ITA-48, which went 7-3 in Round 3 but seemed to lack the speed bursts of ITA-45. The Italians switched back to ITA-45 for the semis and finished 7-3.

Tomorrow, in keeping with the requirements of the Cup Protocol, the three syndicates will lower the skirts that have shrouded their boats' underbodies over the past several months and let the world see those most secret parts of their anatomies.

The results of many months of research and development, many hours of testing and many thousands of dollars of technological investment will be laid bare. Challengers and defender will have a better understanding of their opponents.

These syndicates now find themselves caught up in a quickening countdown toward the day of revelation -- the challenger final which begins Tuesday, 25 January, and the Cup Match which begins 19 February.

An increasing hubbub along syndicate row over the past few days has been indicative of the sense of urgency that has grown among the syndicates.

All three have been on the Hauraki Gulf over the past two days continuing testing programmes and analysing the effects of any modifications which have been carried out since the challenger semifinals ended five days ago.

It has become a nervous time. The Cup Match is less than 30 days away.

The official measurers have already made several visits to each of the surviving syndicates, monitoring work in progress on each of the boats that will require a measurement certificate before unveiling takes place.

As each minor modification is made, the measurers re-examine the boats' compliance with the International America's Cup Class Rule.

Team New Zealand has confirmed it will unveil both of its race boats, NZL-57 and NZL-60, leaving the final decision on which will sail the match until 14 February.

Prada was sailing yesterday and today after allowing shore and sailing crews two days' rest in the wake of the challenger semifinals.

"We still have some tests to do on both boats," team spokesman Paolo Martinoni said.

"There is not much time now and we will try to sail every day, including Friday before the unveiling. There are many little things to be tested and we might still have some small modifications to make."

AmericaOne also took its look-alikes USA-49 and USA-61 onto the Gulf yesterday and today as minor modifications continue on both boats.

"We had a couple of days on shore but our plan now is to be sailing every day, including unveiling day," said AmericaOne spokesperson Gina Von Esmarch.

"We have to use all the time we can to make these adjustments. There's not a lot of time left to us."

Team New Zealand treated yesterday as another "race day," a day on which NZL-57 and NZL-60 try to replicate the race conditions the challengers have enjoyed throughout the Louis Vuitton Cup.

"We go racing three or four days a week and the other days are set aside as testing days," a team spokesperson said. "Yesterday was a race day, today is for tuning and testing.

"It's a busy time. The shore crew hasn't had a day off in three and a half weeks and the sailing crew is still restricted to Sundays off."

Team New Zealand will be first to drop its skirts on Friday, revealing all at 12:30 p.m. NZT before throwing its base open to the public. Prada will follow suit at 6 p.m. and AmericaOne at 7 p.m.



For full story go to: www.americascup.org

  For additional information on AmericaOne, contact:

Gina von Esmarch
E-mail: gvonesmarch@americaone.org
Phone: 415-474-3425
Fax: 415-474-3571


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