Prada skipper Francesco de Angelis and his crew have been advised to ``just go for it'' against Team New Zealand's Russell Coutts and earn themselves some respect before the America's Cup yachting series is over.
Prada skipper Francesco de Angelis and his crew have been advised to “just go for it” against Team New Zealand’s Russell Coutts and earn themselves some respect before the America’s Cup yachting series is over.
One of the world’s top match-racers, Australian Peter Gilmour, says de Angelis and his sailors can still win races. But he said they had to distance themselves from the pressures of facing the New Zealanders, and take the game to Coutts in the critical pre-start manoeuvring of cup races. Team New Zealand lead the best-of-nine series 2-0 entering tomorrow’s scheduled third race. “Prada really have to pull something out to get back into it,” Gilmour told NZPA. “They’ve basically just got to say we are down and out, it’s all over. Let’s give ourselves some respect. Let’s go out there and just take one race as it comes and build some respect for ourselves. “It’s a tough call to put it all behind you. They really have to forget it, drop it all out.”
Gilmour said today’s rest day would help the Prada syndicate take a deep breath and get ready for tomorrow’s vital third race. Team New Zealand’s Black Magic seemingly proved itself a better boat and Coutts’ crew sharper than the Italians in the first two races. Gilmour, a former world No 1 who is considered Coutts’ equal in match-racing, was skipper of the Nippon challenge in the Louis Vuitton Cup and broke ranks with the challengers to trial against Team New Zealand before the semifinals.
He said it was clear Team New Zealand had worked very hard at pre-start moves. If a team could dominate the pre-start and get the correct side of the start-line for expected wind conditions, a race could be controlled from the beginning. Coutts has managed to dominate both pre-starts against de Angelis, who along with his crew, had no match-racing experience until joining Prada for the cup campaign three summers ago.
The Prada team are being trained by a cluster of New Zealand racers, including 1992 cup skipper Rod Davis. Gilmour said when Nippon sailed Team New Zealand in December he got a whipping.
At the time, the two camps said the four starts were shared two each. Gilmour now says it was 4-0 to Coutts although Coutts simply smiled and declined to confirm that when asked if it was true. Gilmour said Coutts had shown him a couple of new moves in the trials, which he had taken into the challenger semifinals. “I thought gee whizz, this is impressive. They certainly had the moves. Russell is very, very skilled.” Gilmour said Team New Zealand sported the two best match-racers of any team, with Coutts and Dean Barker and their respective crews, and had not been disadvantaged by not having a defenders’ series. “What I think they’ve done is work on a lot of set moves in the pre-starts between their own boats, Dean and Russell thrashing away out there, and come up with a very good, total, pre-start solution. “So maybe dancing with your sister’s not a bad thing after all.”
The intensity of the duelling was evident on the Hauraki Gulf today with a minor collision between the two boats helmed by Coutts and Barker. Team New Zealand spokeswoman Melanie Jones said the clash was minor, with a superficial graze to NZL60 and no damage to NZL57. The two teams have had several minor crashes, with Barker saying the worst aspect is telling the boatbuilders when they return to base.
Gilmour said Black Magic also demonstrated remarkable manoeuvrability in the pre-start, with the new keel and rudders a big improvement on NZL32 which won the cup in 1995 . “It’s basically got more grip on the water, so it’s easier to accelerate and less stall. So you can do tight manoeuvres, go to high speed to slow speed, and quickly accelerate back to high speed.”