Tennis Celebrity Steffi Graf’s Debut as 17th Crew Person
AUCKLAND, New Zealand, February 2, 2000 -AmericaOne, the San Francisco-based St. Francis Yacht Clubs Americas Cup 2000 challenger, won its third race of the Louis Vuitton Finals against the Prada Challenge (ITA 45) by 9s. Steffi Graf, winner of 22 grand slam titles in tennis, rode onboard USA 61 as the 17th crewmember while AmericaOne claimed its third point and tied the series.
In steady 13-knot winds, AmericaOne chose the favored pin end of the starting line and established a four-second lead over the line. Both teams benefited from windshifts throughout the first half of the race as the lead shifted. It was at the first leeward mark that Prada made a fatal mistake. By attempting to take their spinnaker down on both sides of the bow, the Italians virtually “shrink wrapped” Luna Rossa with the spinnaker, causing them to slow down and veer off course. AmericaOne’s charging boat overtook the wounded silver boat and led to the next windward mark.
With exceptional boat speed and consistently confident crew work the AmericaOne Team kept their advantage down the second downwind leg and into the last leeward mark rounding. With both boats approaching on port tack to the final windward mark, it was up to USA 61 to hold off ITA 45 to the finish. Down the last leg AmericaOne maintained and defended a two-boatlength lead over Prada to the finish line. USA 61 crossed ahead of ITA 45 as the Race Committee raised the blue flag signaling AmericaOne the victor.
“The crew did an awesome job of handling the boat,” said AmericaOne Skipper Paul Cayard. “We capitalized on a few significant shifts during the race and I’m pleased to have a tied ballgame on our hands.”
During the Finals the challengers will race one race a day in a best-of-nine series. The first team to win five races will win the Louis Vuitton Cup. Racing is scheduled to begin at 1:15 PM local time on a full-length America’s Cup course, three laps totaling 18.55-nautical miles windward-leeward format.
Finals/Race 6 Starting Line-Up: Curtis Blewett of Los Angeles, CA, bow; Ralf Steitz of Port Washington, NY, mid-bow; Bill Bates of San Diego, CA, mast/sewer; Josh Belsky of Hood River, OR, pit; Jim Nicholas of San Diego, CA, grinder; Phil Trinter of Lorain, OH, grinder; Matt Welling of Bay Shore, NY, grinder; David McClintock of Portsmouth, RI, upwind trim; Carter Perrin of Houston, TX, downwind trim; Paul Cayard of Kentfield, CA, helmsman; John Kostecki of Fairfax, CA, tactician; Gavin Brady of Annapolis, MD, strategist; Terry Hutchinson of Annapolis, MD, mainsheet; Morgan Larson of Capitola, CA, traveler; Sean Clarkson of Middletown, RI, main assist and Lexi Gahagan of Wilmington, DE, navigator. The 17th crew person was Ms. Steffi Graf of Germany.
Final Scores To Date:
AmericaOne / 3 points
Prada Challenge/ 3 points