Sailing: Walker urges Britain to raise their game
Tuesday 22 October 2002
More pressure, more risks to be taken, and more at stake, the second round-robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup makes its delayed start tomorrow with the British team in good heart, the two leading teams almost oozing self-confidence, and two of the three American teams regrouping.
The Prada team have worked 24 hours a day for five days to improve a sequence of three wins from seven outings, while the Swedish team had been able to make a decision to make a change and sail its new boat, but cannot announce a decision about who will sail it. Each team play the paranoia game, tries to mislead their opponents, and refuses to disclose to the public what all their opponents know about their activities.
GBR Challenge's general manager, David Barnes, described the alterations to their yacht before the second round of the Louis Vuitton Cup this week as "small, but adding up to a significant improvement". The British camp have been playing down their changes and their skipper, Ian Walker, talks of "weighing up risks against potential benefits". Barnes says openly they have been trying to learn as much as possible from the way their opponents do things and they, as well as others, have had people working round the clock. Even so, they have had only two days to test the effect of those changes, though changes there have to be.
"If we don't improve, we're not going to win," said Walker, who said he was not surprised at the pecking order that had emerged from round-robin one and expected to see a similar situation at the end of round-robin two.
The Italian winners of the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2000, Prada, have put a whole restyled bow section on to their silver and red Luna Rossa, the sort of knuckle shape developed for Team New Zealand's Black Magic, who beat them 5-0 in the last America's Cup showdown, and have borrowed some of the mast technology from the same boat to improve the area of the headsails.
One of their biggest rivals for the sole right to challenge his old team, Russell Coutts, had already made a similar development. Of the nine challengers going into a round which sees that number cut to eight and one team going home, the skipper of Switzerland's Alinghi is staying cool about the performance of his yacht.
Coutts has made one or two long-planned changes to SUI 64, which the team will continue to use, and would be glad to have Murray Jones back from injury.
In most trouble are the French who, immediately after losing their eighth race out of eight, called in every member of the team, plus wives, girlfriends and children, to say that this was a time to rally round, to support each other, keep heads up and know that they could still win races. Since then they have played with a winged rudder before abandoning the move because there was too little time to test it.
In any case, they have the makings of a fast boat already if they can just find a way to sail smarter tactics and as a team, rather then 16 individuals. They could still upset some who have been lulled into thinking they are easy prey.
In the relegation zone with them, Mascalzone Latino have made a few changes, most notably to move the optimum performance of their single yacht up to medium-strength breezes and they kick off the new round of racing today by completing their outstanding first-round fixture against Prada. Any upset there and the princes from Milan will be sent into a tailspin by the rascals of Naples.
Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again
...and it wasn't caused by an asteroid crash, as first thought
Latest in Sport
Arsene Wenger 18th anniversary at Arsenal: His WORST signings XI during his time with the Gunners
John Terry desperate to avoid repeat of crying game by securing silverware
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Nani: On loan Sporting Lisbon winger admits he may not return to Manchester United
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 35,000 walrus gather on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 4 Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Former Tory donor Arron Banks ups his Ukip donation to £1million following William Hague 'nobody' comment
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£26000 - £28000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...
£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: English Teacher required for ...
£55000 - £60000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...