GBR Challenge's first match in Round Robin 2 of the Louis Vuitton Cup against Stars & Stripes is one of the most important yet

With the Louis Vuitton Cup racing due to resume tomorrow, Peter Harrison’s GBR Challenge is making the final preparations for the second Round Robin. The British team enters the fray after the all-Italian showdown tomorrow, with a match against Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes on Wednesday.

David Barnes, GBR’s General Manager sounded confident about the progress that the young team is making. “We like to think that we can go into RR2 in the same fashion that we finished RR1 in. We’ve learnt from every single race and the guys have a lot more confidence in themselves and in the boat. In the next round we should start off on a better footing than where we started in the first race.”

Barnes announced that the team has selected GBR 70 as the race boat for the next Round Robin. “We’ve made some changes in the boat, which I can’t go into the detail of. All of them are subtle changes but if you put them together as a package its quite significant to the performance of the boat. But that’s not to say that its going to make us leap out of the water compared to the other teams, as everybody else will be making significant changes as well. It’s a case of evolution with these boats, you’ve got to keep improving them all the way through.”

Skipper Ian Walker commented: “You have to weigh up the risk against the potential benefits in any decision you make, be it on the race course or in the design office. We’re confident that we’ve come to the right decision, balancing the right amount of risk with the right amount of potential gain.”

After Round Robin One, GBR Challenge is part of the middle group that has formed, along with Victory Challenge, Prada and Wednesday’s opponents, Stars & Stripes. If Oracle BMW, Alinghi and OneWorld retain their current position ahead of the field, then this middle group will be left to fight for fourth position. With the countback system, every match against either the top Italian team, the Swedes or Dennis Conner’s men in this round will carry added significance.

Tactician Ado Stead outlined the importance of Wednesday’s battle. “The first match against Stars & Stripes is one of the really important matches. We’ve got to go out there and take our chances. The biggest delta in whole race last time was 20 seconds. That’s the nature of these matches with experienced and professional teams, they’re really tough and quite often come down to one or two small things.”