Last words from the teams on the eve of Act 6 in Malmo
The ship carrying 30,000 cubic metres of equipment comprising 13 Cup boats, 86 RIBs and support boats, 70 shipping containers and over 20 masts arrived safely and on time in the Swedish port of Malmo. Since it’s arrival less than two weeks ago, teams and organisers have been building the travelling circus for it’s first ever appearance in Sweden. Now, on the eve of Act 6, Cup racing is officially on tour.
Racing is due to begin at 1200 local (1000 GMT Thursday 25 August) with two flights of match racing. Kicking off the proceedings, Alinghi go face to face with the home team, Victory Challenge, the team that so nearly won the last Act and who finished their return to America’s Cup racing on a high, despite their controversial disqualification from the penultimate race.
Next up is the South African team who will be squaring up to BMW Oracle. Both teams have plenty of issues to put to bed. The South Africans will be keen to show that their new boat has a rig and sails that fit, hydraulics that work and a crew that are capable of giving others a hard time when the boat hangs together.
But problems with the boat weren’t the only things to spark changes in the strategy of the team. Act 6 sees British match racing helmsman Chris Law on the wheel aboard Shosholoza for each of the match races.
“Chris Law will be steering for the match races,” said Geoff Meek, the man who has been displaced at the wheel. “We think our speed is more competitive, and we’re working on that pretty much daily. This is going to be a great regatta for us. I think we’re up there with our boat speed and we can give it a good go!”
It’s all change for BMW Oracle Racing too with Chris Dickson stepping back aboard USA-76 to skipper and helm the American boat after John Kostecki’s departure.
Speaking 24 hours before the start of racing Dickson said, “We’d all like to win, that’s what we’re all here for. For our team we’ve come with a primary objective of having a stronger performance (than in Valencia)?We have very high expectations of ourselves?we don’t accept bad results and bad performance. If we’re not happy we’ll look to change and improve.”
Another entry on the list of big changes is the appearance of Ian Walker, ex-GBR Challenge skipper, in the Italian 39 team.
“One of the big changes for us is in the afterguard,” said skipper Iain Percy. “We have Ian Walker, who has been on the same team as I’ve been on with the British Olympic team, (Walker was also skipper for GBR Challenge at the last Louis Vuitton Cup). It’s nice for me to be with someone I know so well and trust. We’ve only had a few days together and already we’re speaking English too fast for the rest of the boat! I’m excited and I think it helps to shore up our team a little further.”
Elsewhere, the mood was much the same among the teams, many talking of better preparation for this event, despite the long haul north and looking to do better as a result.
But it was ex Victory Challenge skipper Jesper Bank who’s brand new United Internet Team German surprised many with three wins in Valencia, who expressed his usual refreshingly frank opinion on the task that faced his team.
“The new guys on the block come out and do everything very uncomplicated and whoops, there’s a win. That’s what you saw. We just went out and sailed the best we could and did it very simple,” he said. “Now we’re in danger of doing the same mistake everyone else does. You say, ‘We can win. So let’s change the sails, let’s change the rig, let’s change the keel, let’s change the crew?we’ll let’s wait and see how it goes.”
A few more hours and the waiting will be over and we too will see how it went.
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