SAILING: Koch holds the advantages

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The Independent Online
SAILING

STUART ALEXANDER

reports from San Diego

The organisers of the America's Cup are praying that the weather, which has been contrary ever since racing began in January, will settle for the next week and allow the smooth completion of the semi-finals of the Citizen and Louis Vuitton Cups.

The one-boat campaigns are affected more than those with two or more boats as they cannot either work on modifications to a second boat, nor test out ideas for their race boat. On the defender side, the syndicate most likely to win, Kevin Mahaney's Pact '95, is also the most behind schedule, after a litany of damage and gear failure.

The strength of having a long-term, two-boat programme is best demonstrated in the Team New Zealand roll-call of unbeaten success, the vulnerability of coming late with one boat is now seeing Chris Dickson struggle to keep up with the pace, while the calamity of losing the second boat is vividly exemplified by the sinking of oneAustralia.

Strongest of all are Bill Koch's America3, who have two earlier boats to use for a warm-up on race days and well over 100 people now working in the compound. Harold Cudmore has also returned to join Koch as an adviser to the team he was with in 1992 now that the team he was with in 1995, the French, have been eliminated.

This has raised some eyebrows. The Australian Neville Wittey who had joined Syd Fischer's Sydney '95 campaign to replace Britain's Chris Law, said: "Given all the hell that the French put me through, I would be very upset if Cudmore has now joined America3. I think the gentleman ought to take a look at the standards he lives his life by. He would know a hundred and a thousand times more than I ever knew, as he is leaving one syndicate where he was an adviser to go another, whereas I was only an umpire."

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