All clear below the waterline

SAILING
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The Independent Online
SAILING

Four little emperors went on parade yesterday to show the latest in 1995 America's Cup fashions, with clothes remarkably similar. The fifth, Bill Koch's empress, was different. The Common Declaration Date saw the two challenger finalists and three defenders remove the skirts of secrecy from their hulls, keels and rudders.

Saving everything for late in the day, the two Louis Vuitton Cup finalists' undersides were much as expected. John Bertrand's oneAustralia has been undergoing extensive changes to its hull. The boat has a development of the sunken AUS35's keel and its main weapon, apart from some feverish work on an already good sail programme, is that it is now an unknown quantity.

Their opponents in the best of nine final, Team New Zealand, have plumped for the NZL32 hull which they raced in the semi-finals. The only ones with a choice, they used that time to test developments on NZL38, then transferred the best to NZL32, which will now be their race hull for the LVC and, if they win it, for the America's Cup.

The package Koch's lavish America3 gave Mighty Mary was a keel with droopy whale tail wings at the back of the bulb and a knotch-topped, super-long, slim rudder. The 15 women and one man crew has hardly been given a break, the skipper Leslie Egnot explaining they still have a lot of catching up to do.

So does Dennis Conner, who has had to keep to the older of two keels, taken some weight out of the boat but lengthened the stern, traded off some sail area, and is praying for light airs.

Fast in all conditions has been John Marshall's Pact '95, which has a new mast, keel modifications and a one-race advantage over Cubed, plus two over TDC following the talks which kept third-placed Conner in the action.

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