America's Cup Teams Search For Tiny Improvements On Day In Port

Monday, June 25th 2007, 10:23 am
By: News On 6

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) _ Defending champion Alinghi and challenger Emirates Team New Zealand spent Monday searching for tiny tweaks to increase speed with the score tied 1-1 in the best-of-nine America's Cup.

Though there was no racing Monday, that did not mean it was a day off for the crews before racing was to resume Tuesday.

Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth said his 17-member crew would spend Monday reviewing videos and photographs of Sunday's loss, looking for anywhere they made gains or losses in a sport where the tiniest difference in wind can be decisive.

The Kiwis were to do the same after coming from behind Sunday to defeat the Swiss boat by 28 seconds, handing Alinghi its first America's Cup defeat after six straight wins. Team New Zealand's win ensured that the Auld Mug, the oldest trophy in international sports, will not be won in a sweep for the first time since 1992.

The triumph was just what the Kiwis needed while gearing up for race three, New Zealand strategist Ray Davies said.

``That's always a huge booster and there is nothing worse than going into a day off on a loss because the only way to recover from a loss is to get back out there and redeem yourself,'' he said.

Until Sunday, Butterworth had a 16-win streak in the America's Cup, starting in 1995. But he had not expected another sweep this time.

``The team always thought they were going to come into this thing with a hard fight on their hands,'' said Butterworth, himself a New Zealander.

Team New Zealand won the chance to avenge its 2003 loss to Alinghi by defeating Italy's Luna Rosa 5-0 in the challenger finals earlier this month. Both sides prefer to call it a rematch, not a grudge match, after hate mail and death threats against Alinghi's New Zealand sailors marred its 5-0 sweep in 2003.

Alinghi, founded in 2000 by Swiss biotech billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, lured away key Kiwi sailors, including Butterworth, from the team that successfully defended New Zealand's title in 2000.

The teams spent years developing their new 80-foot carbon fiber boats, SUI100 for the Swiss and NZL92 for the Kiwis, and always are experimenting with new ways to increase speed.

Alinghi dominated the opening race Saturday, defeating New Zealand by 35 seconds in moderate wind. The Kiwis do well in light winds, as was the case Sunday. The forecast is for more light wind when racing resumes Tuesday.