Marshall wary of the challengers

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The Independent Online
With the weather blowing away the opening day of America's Cup round- robin three, and the war of words ashore having died down, it was left to John Marshall, the head of the defence syndicate Pact '95, to voice the first warning that the United States are facing a stronger challenge than in 1992.

"The very strong foreign teams which started early have a colossal advantage over the defence," he said. "We are horrifically behind. We started late, have had some big setbacks, including our boat being damaged in high winds, and the conditions since November have been dismal.''

But he was optimistic enough to add: "I think we have the team and the technology to develop the horsepower," and over at Team Dennis Conner, a laconic Bill Trenkle said: "We have seen nothing dominant on the challenger course, nothing we fear at any rate.''

There is still much guessing to do as syndicates introduce new boats. The points double to four for each win now and the main problem for both defenders and challengers has been the lack of preparation time because of the overrun of the previous series.

There will be only one new boat, being sailed by John Bertrand's oneAustralia, which is likely to continue to make changes in personnel at the back of the boat. As does their compatriot, Syd Fischer, who brings in Colin Beashel to replace the sacked Chris Law.

Team New Zealand were also expected to change boats, but Russell Coutts will continue with the yacht that is so far unbeaten on the water in the 12 outings of the first two round-robins. "We're continuing to use NZL38 because she's fast enough and we're perfectly happy with her," their spokesman, Alan Sefton, said.