St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version


The score doesn't reflect good America's Cup racing

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 23, 2003

AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- America's Cup history is being made.

Swiss challenger Alinghi leads Team New Zealand 3-0 in the best-of-nine series, but the racing has been closer than the score suggests.

Former Team New Zealand helmsman Russell Coutts, who leads the Alinghi challenge, moved into the record books Tuesday by winning his 12th consecutive America's Cup race, surpassing American Charlie Barr's 11-race record. Coutts is looking to replace Dennis Conner as the skipper with the most wins in Cup racing. Conner has 13.

In Race 1, Team New Zealand got off to a strong start before its boat almost broke apart. Coutts and his Alinghi team were in trouble shortly after the start in 20-25 knots of wind. New Zealand skipper Dean Barker had Alinghi pinned down, but within three minutes Barker's boat began taking on water, requiring a crew member to bail with a bucket. The distraction and extra weight slowed the home team, allowing Alinghi to gain a stronger position.

Farther along Team New Zealand had more problems, breaking its main boom and having its genoa detach from the boat. The breakdowns were too much to overcome, and New Zealand dropped out of the race. It was the first time in more than 80 years a defender failed to finish a race.

Worse, the team's alternate boat, very similar to the race boat, sustained damage that took days to repair.

Race 2 provided more drama. In what some seasoned observers called the greatest America's Cup race ever, Alinghi built a tenuous early lead in 7-10 knots of winds. Team New Zealand passed Alinghi on the second leg and stayed in front by a comfortable margin until the final run.

Heading for the finish, Alinghi got a whisper of breeze from behind and caught up to Team New Zealand. The home team blocked Alinghi's path and looked to be positioned to stay ahead for its first point. But with six minutes left in the two-hour race, Alinghi got its nose in front and held on to win by seven seconds, less than 2 boat lengths.

Team New Zealand's heart sank. For the first time it became concerned the Cup might leave New Zealand for Europe.

Race3 caused a stir when Team New Zealand controlled the starting action only to send Alinghi off to what became the favored side of the course. Skipper Dean Barker did his best to keep the pressure on Alinghi, but in the end it was the Swiss team ahead at the finish by 23 seconds.

Sports talk shows and TV commentators asked if changes were necessary for Team New Zealand. Monday morning quarterbacks seemed to pop up everywhere. Team New Zealand made a change to its afterguard by replacing young tactician Hamish Pepper with veteran Frenchman Bertrand Pace. Pace is the team's sparring helmsman and a former world match-racing champion.

Race4 was scheduled for Thursday, but light, shifty winds worried officials and the race was delayed until Saturday. Team New Zealand stayed out to practice.

The practice will have to pay quickly, as the series likely ends this week. The first to win five races takes the trophy.

-- Ed Baird is a world-class sailor from St. Petersburg.

Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright

From the Times sports desk
  • Hubert Mizell: It's hard to be Woods' rival, but Big Easy can do it
  • John Romano: Olden Bear wants competition, not adulation
  • Gary Shelton: A Winning Attitude

  • College basketball
  • USF falls in streaky game
  • Eckerd survives Tampa comeback
  • Oklahoma State repels Texas rally
  • UConn beats St. John's in coach's return
  • Stanford nails down Pac-10 title
  • FSU's road ACC losing streak extends to 15
  • Salukis earn big victory with buzzer-beater
  • Florida gets out of Vandy with OT win

  • NFL
  • Grossman won't pass up chance

  • Golf
  • Weather wins Round 2
  • Levi's lead blown away by the winds
  • Nelson out with sore neck
  • Howell leads boyhood idol Price

  • NFL
  • Martz says Warner is still his guy

  • Baseball
  • Torre says Wells must be careful
  • Ankiel making progress for Cardinals

  • NHL
  • Slapshots
  • Red Wings keep Caps in skid

  • Sailing
  • The score doesn't reflect good America's Cup racing

  • Arena
  • Storm trying to avoid digging a deeper hole

  • In brief
  • Holiday surprises few in winning the Donn
  • Rant/Rave

  • Boxing
  • Knockouts for Tyson, Lacy

  • NBA
  • Hornets win at buzzer

  • Motorsports
  • Rain a negative for Rockingham

  • Preps
  • No surprise here: Cougars dominate
  • Patriots fall short of ambitious goals
  • Wharton continues Relays domination
  • Seven Leopards headed to state
  • Bowen takes down another opponent
  • Warriors take fourth; send four on to state
  • Mooney can't match SPC duo
  • Mustangs cool off after a fast start
  • Pirates' pace pays dividends
  • Packers wrap up title with third-quarter run
  • Eagles come alive late
  • Eagles take flight with 9 champions
  • Jesuit holds breath, then gets to celebrate
  • Familiar opponents yield familiar results
  • Sharpshooting Lions prevail
  • Wesley Chapel hangs on to title
  • Galloway ignites Hurricane explosion
  • Reed powers Ridgewood
  • Lakewood eases to title

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report
  • Your turn

  • Rays
  • Baldelli plays the right game
  • Pay scale isn't sitting well with younger players
  • That extra cash? It's already been spent

  • Bucs
  • McGahee is an intriguing option

  • Lightning
  • Lightning defenseman Boyle is in a rhythm

  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts