Oracle Team USA might be sitting in their corner, bloodied and bruised, like a boxer desperately trying to recover from a particularly damaging last round, but experts are still tipping that Larry Ellison's team will pick themselves up and come out swinging.
In an interview with Peter Montgomery on Newstalk ZB, world renowned racing multihull designer Duncan Maclane said "At early stages I would have said that the chances of someone beating Oracle this time round were very slim. Right now...I'd say its 60-40. Oracle still has got real strength behind them, because of the head start and the people they have in the team. And you can't discount all the time on the water with the big tri."
Maclane, a veteran of the 1988 the Deed of Gift race onboard Stars and Stripes against New Zealand's KZ1 said that in spite of the "huge negative impact on Oracle's program", the defender of the America's Cup was in a unique position before the incident.
"I don't think it has ever happened before in the America's Cup where the defender basically got to pick the next boat and did most of the preliminary design work and determining the rule on their own. By going into the large catamaran with a wing sail, Oracle also had a huge jump on everybody because they had spent a lot of time with their wing-masted trimaran in the last Cup. They had that under their belts, they had their design team, their sailing team, all their shore based support from that before they really finalised the design for this cup. That put them at a huge advantage."
Most sailing experts will tell you that there's not much point in having a great boat and a great team, if the sailors haven't had enough time out on the water to learn to sail it properly. So Oracle will still be suffering tremendously as a result of the lack of sailing time since their capsize on October 17 2012.
Although, they will have a window of just over two months to claw back some of their deficit. The challengers stop training and begin racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup on San Fransisco Bay on July 4, whereas the defender will not begin racing until September 7.
Emirates Team New Zealand, on the other hand, have used all their allotted 30 days of training from the first restriction period. The second training restriction period begins on February 1 and runs through to April 30, with teams being allowed to sail on 45 days. Oracle Team USA's second training period has been shortened to finish on April 26 as the result of a protest by Luna Rossa Challenge for breaching the reconnaissance laws. They will however still be allowed to train on 45 days during the shortened period.
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