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Tough Task For Spirit First-up
The Sun Herald
Sunday January 26, 1992
SPIRIT of Australia, one of the poor relations in the America's Cup challenger family, will meet the richest, Italy's Il Moro di Venezia, in the first race of the round-robin today (Sydney time) in San Diego.
Challenge Australia will race against the Spanish yacht Espana 92; New Zealand meets Ville de Paris (France) and Nippon (Japan) meets Tre Kronor(Sweden).
The Italians have a reported budget of $US47 million - it may be as high as$US60 million - and the boat they will sail today is their fifth.
Spirit, the "people's boat" with donations from $2 as well as some good corporate support, has a budget of $A12-$14 million and has only one boat.
"It doesn't get any tougher," said campaign manager Iain Murray after Spirit's first rival was chosen during a random draw.
"Were going to have a tough time out there, but it wakes you up to the fact the event is on and you're in it."
For Spirit, the Italian challenge in the first race is like drawing Mike Tyson in a boxing match.
"The Italians are ready to go into the America's Cup," Murray said.
"They have been here for a long time and they are really chafing at the bit and they are very, very good."
The other Australian syndicate, Syd Fischer's Challenge Australia, has an easier first day draw against the Spanish team, Espana '92.
"I don't think anyone is going to be easy but it's not a bad draw," Fischer said.
"I think we'll be giving it everything we've got, but whether we've optimised the boat by then remains to be seen."
The draw for tomorrow (Sydney time) is:
Espana 92 v Kronor, Il Moro di Venezia v New Zealand; Challenge Australia v Nippon, Ville de Paris v Spirit of Australia.
AUSSIES IN COMBAT
AUSTRALIA is the only country with two separate syndicates among the eight America's Cup challengers and there is little love lost between them.
Efforts so far to work together have been frustrated by having their shore bases on different waterways - Challenge Australia on San Diego Harbour and Spirit of Australia on Mission Bay.
Peter Gilmour, skipper of Spirit of Australia, said: "It is no secret and it has been well documented; there is a degree of acrimony between our two groups. From Australia's point of view, we are far better off having two challengers. When we come to race each other, it is going to be a pretty feisty contest."
Phil Thompson, skipper of Challenge Australia, said: "We have not sailed as much together as we originally talked about, mainly because of the pressures of getting these boats sailing. As time goes by, we may spend more time together."
PAUL Cayard, the skipper of the Raul Gardini-led Italian syndicate which, with the Japanese, has been in residence in San Diego longer than the others, was asked if he thought a radical boat would win the America's Cup as Australia II did in 1983.
"I think the boats are more dissimilar than they were in 1983 apart from Australia II. They had been sailing 12-metres for about 30 years so they had sorted through 95 per cent of the ideas.
"This class is brand new and I think there are lot of opportunities out there."