Life stays calm for Prada as storms loom among rivals

Extra pressure produced extra cracks as the third round robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup began in perfect racing conditions yesterday.

Extra pressure produced extra cracks as the third round robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup began in perfect racing conditions yesterday.

The Spanish helmsman Luis Doreste made a brave job of trying to explain the relegation of the skipper Pedro Campos to watching from the support boat, and Marc Pajot faced a grilling about a threatened mutiny by his Swiss crew on Fast 2000 over unpaid wages.

But Ed Baird, of the New York Yacht Club, made no bones about a tactical dilemma that led to his Young America handing over a 23-second lead to an Italian Prada syndicate enjoying their new boat. It has yet to be seen if the second Luna Rossa is also a second red planet in the firmament. But, with the tactical brilliance of Torben Grael, an Olympic gold medallist, whispering in his ear, the skipper Francesco de Angelis took up where he left off in the second round and chalked up his 20th win in 21 starts.

That loss, to Dennis Conner's Stars & Stripes in the second round, was because of a switch in wind direction that left de Angelis hung out to dry. The same happened to Baird as he played the left side of the two-mile upwind leg for the second time only to see the Italians profit from a better band of wind on the right. As Baird said afterwards, perhaps he should have distrusted the confidence he had in his own decision in reading the shifty 10 to 18-knot south-westerly and instead pandered to the paranoia that says you should never allow an opponent to play his own game in an uncontested piece of water.

Pajot, who had his major sponsor on board, was first rammed by an umpire boat and successfully asked for a restart against Paul Cayard in AmericaOne. He then showed that his twin-keeled Fast 2000 could cause the San Franciscan problems and after losing by 33 seconds protested that Cayard's support boat had interfered with his race by creating a wash. Finally, he was able to assure everyone that the crew's wages for November had been paid but said there was still a problem with December.

As for the Spanish, Doreste and his brother, Noluca ,are now clearly running the boat. But not well enough to stop John Kolius, in the rejuvenated older of his two Abracadabra 2000s, from muscling his way past at the end of the first leg and hanging on until the finish.

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