Yachting: Defending crew chosen but no decision on yacht

By Paul Lewis

Oracle Team USA have not decided which of their two yachts they will race Emirates Team New Zealand with in the America's Cup match.

It came out yesterday that, while Oracle have selected their team to sail in the cup final, they have not yet made a decision on their boat.

It's no surprise that Oracle have selected their "A" racing team; it's also no surprise they haven't announced who's in it. There are jury hearings on the cheating allegations coming up on Wednesday which could, in theory anyway, affect eligibility.

But it is a surprise that Oracle team coach and tactician Darren Bundock, 42, mentioned that the jury is out on whether they will race Boat 1 or Boat 2 in the cup match.

This could be the usual America's Cup posturing but the affable Bundock didn't seem to be just shooting the breeze. The choice of boat is a key matter and most expect their Generation Two Boat 2 (which has been skippered by expected cup skipper Jimmy Spithill) to be the defending yacht.

Bundock, an Australian Olympic silver medallist and seven-times world champion in the double-handed Tornado catamarans and four-time world champion in the 18-foot, single-handed F18 class, knows his multihulls.

In Oracle's training runs yesterday, Bundock (who has regularly been on Boat 2) was on Boat 1.

Oracle have been rotating their crews and, asked if that was continuing, Bundock said the cup crew had been selected. His appearance on Boat 1 yesterday could either mean he has missed out on cup selection - or that he hasn't. "That's one of the strengths Oracle has," Bundock said. "We have so many guys who can back up.

"Both boats have their fast points too; it is just a matter of coming up with the best package. Most people expect us to use Boat 2 but Boat 1 is the fastest AC72 ever built, in my view, but it is a little bit harder to sail."

Those who have been on the water watching the duels between the two boats say Boat 1 wins more than would be expected of the back-up boat. There is no doubt their second generation boat is more stable but, with the regatta's wind limits and expected lighter airs in September, Oracle may be thinking of sacrificing a little bit of stability to counter Team NZ's undoubted speed.

Bundock says Oracle have been watching Team NZ closely and think that the traditional America's Cup model (ie, one team is much faster than the other, reflected in the racing) will be blown out of the water this time.

"I think this will be a really good competition," he said. "It will be the best racing of the America's Cup. I still believe we have an edge but I do not think we'll see one team dominating - both teams will take a few wins."

However, Bundock rates the close racing of their two boats in training as superior to the less closely contested racing of the Louis Vuitton.

"Yes and no," said Team NZ skipper Dean Barker when asked whether the two-boat strategy is better than experience in the Louis Vuitton. "Actual race pressure is such an advantage.

"You don't have the ability to make sure everything is perfect [in a race]. Sometimes you have to make decisions when everything is not ideal. But they do have an incredibly strong team with huge resources and having two boats in the water will enable them to create a race environment."

- NZ Herald

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