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AmericaOne Quokka Chronicles:
Brilliance Needed to Win Louis Vuitton Cup

by Chirs Dickson , Quokka Sports

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01/24/00 -

Auckland, NZ

The two best challengers have made it through to the finals, and with everything achieved to date now worth nothing it's again time to perform for AmericaOne and Prada.

In trying to preview the likely result, the two teams appear very similar on most counts. There are a few differences, however, which might sneak in.

Boat speed is what has historically has won most America's Cup races, and interestingly, of the last three America's Cups (not including '88), five out of the six challenger finals and Cup matches have seen the winner enjoy a measurable speed advantage. Having a boat-speed edge is one of those little gems in life that you always hope and strive for.

Watch both skippers' facial expressions about half way through Race 1. If one boat is faster, the skippers' faces will show it. Prada designer Doug Peterson was on the design team of the last two America's Cup winners which, combined with an extensive design budget, considerable testing time and impressive performance to date, might give Prada the upper hand on the boat part of the equation.

While watching both teams practicing pre-starts in the past few days, it's glaringly obvious that there are two different styles. Prada has been practising precision moves and counter moves in tactically predictable situations, while the AmericaOne's starts have resembled a lolly scramble and are totally unpredictable.

Francesco de Angelis holds the better record to date, but Paul Cayard may be out to mix things up a little more and has shown he's not afraid to be the aggressor. It takes two to tango, however, and de Angelis certainly has enough moves in his repertoire to choose not to play if he wishes. It could be a case of Prada wanting to race like a chess match and AmericaOne preferring a boxing match. It will then come down to who is forced to play the others game, or perhaps, whether the umpires decide to jump into the ring and decide for them.

Course tactics in Auckland are tough. The conditions are forever changing and unpredictable, but the ones who make the better calls will win a lot more races. AmericaOne, with John Kostecki and Kiwi Gavin Brady, shouldn't miss much. Whatever they do miss, however, is likely to be swiftly picked up by Prada's Torben Grael.

Conventional match-race theory says "cover, cover, cover," but in Auckland's notoriously shifty conditions, there are days when the textbook is thrown away in a hurry. Then it's about seeing more wind, sensing the next shift, ignoring the world and weaving your own way through the minefield. On those days nobody likes racing Torben; he's good very good.

At the five-minute preparatory signal, the two boats and crews are on their own. All the time, effort and money invested so far counts only for experience. If each team sails to their full potential it will be a close and hard fought series.

Usually, the ones who make the most errors lose yacht races. I suspect, however, that winning this final may need a bit more than a low error count; some brilliance may be called for.

Chris Dickson skippered New Zealand's first entry in the Louis Vuitton Cup at Fremantle in 1986-87. In 1995, he led the underfunded TAG Heuer challenge to the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals before bowing out. He's a multiple world champion in many classes, and hopes to represent New Zealand in the Tornado class at the Sydney Olympics later this year.

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
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