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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 16:10 GMT
America's Cup: Head-to-head
Team New Zealand (left) take on Alinghi for the America's Cup
TNZ (left) will take on Swiss challengers Alinghi
GBR Challenge skipper Ian Walker helps BBC Sport Online assess the merits of Team New Zealand and Swiss challenger Alinghi for the America's Cup.

Walker's British team reached the quarter-finals where they lost to Dennis Conner's Stars and Stripes syndicate.


Boats

Alinghi, sailing SUI-64, scorched through the challenger series with an overall record of 29 wins and four losses.

One of Team New Zealand's boats in unveiled to the public in Auckland
The Kiwi clip-on or 'hula'

TNZ are untested but their design programme was able to build on data fom two successful campaigns.

The Kiwis have developed the so-called hula - a hull appendage which acts to increase the boat's waterline length and so improve speed.

Walker's verdict:
TNZ have got the hula on both boats which suggests they are pretty confident it is a step forward.

If so, it is hard to see how Alinghi will counter.


Crews

Alinghi skipper Russell Coutts - America's Cup winner in 1995 and 2000 - is up against Team New Zealand's Dean Barker, his former deputy.

Alinghi's Brad Butterworth (left) and skipper Russell Coutts
Butterworth (left) and Coutts defected to Alinghi

Three-times world match-racing champion Coutts has former TNZ team-mate and four-time Cup veteran Brad Butterworth as his tactician.

Barker's afterguard includes his long-time sailing parter Hamish Pepper, the tactician on New Zealand's tune-up boat in 2000.

Walker's verdict:
Alinghi are more proven and a lot of it is dealing with things going wrong.

TNZ are less proven but still very solid. But they've got a few younger guys and they've not been in the heat of battle.

Pressure does funny things to people.

If it's close I'd go with Alinghi because they have got guys at the back who know how to win and have the Louis Vuitton experience behind them.


Sails

Alinghi are allowed an additional 15 new sails on top of the 45 for the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Alinghi's SUI-64
Alinghi display SUI-64

According to Walker, Alinghi would only have used about 30-35 sails due to their swift progress though the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Team New Zealand are allocated 30 sails for the event.

Walker's verdict:
Had Oracle made the final the sails would be a bigger factor because they used more of their allocation.


Walker's overall verdict:

The heart says Alinghi because it would be best for GBR Challenge if the America's Cup went to Europe.

But the brain says Team New Zealand on the grounds that the hull design with the appendage will be too big a breakthrough for Alinghi to match.

We will have a pretty good idea by the first leeward mark, when we have seen the relative speeds on the first beat and first run.

So far, tiny differences in boat speed have translated into wide winning margins.

On that basis, TNZ to win 5-1.


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