A feeling of invincibility is growing around USA 98. BMW Oracle seem very comfortable with their new boat, far more so than they ever were with USA 87. One of the lynchpins of the Americans’ enormous design team, the Argentinean maverick Juan Kouyoumdjian, says he’s very happy with the USA 98’s performance compared with the Kiwis’ boats for example.
Here’s a comment about NZL 92 from an interview with Juan K on Kimball Livingston’s blog. “At the risk of being wrong - we haven't sailed against them enough to really know - I'd say the boat lacks a touch of speed. That team can compensate with rigs, sails, sailing talent, but if you give that boat to any of the second-tier teams, you won't see them going any faster."
Tactician Gavin Brady is pretty impressed too: “What I like about 98 is the effort the builders put in to building it, she’s built down to the lightest tolerances ever seen, which maximises our stability.”
Brady believes this is the best boat he’s ever sailed on. “The first thing you do is you jump on a boat and work on minimising your weaknesses. It might have a really good fast mode or really high mode, but you don’t often get both. The nice thing with 98 is she seems to have both.
“My feeling is, if I was racing 98, and asked myself how I’d exploit her, well, she’s quite a formidable boat – she goes high, she goes low, she accelerates, she doesn’t stall. She’s an all-round nice boat. I’ve never seen it all come together before so nicely, the whole package, it’s four years of a lot of money, a lot of development, good people.”
The way Brady puts it, the boat is almost an extension of skipper Chris Dickson. Remember, Brady walked away from the team a couple of years ago because Dickson moved him off the wheel. Now that Brady’s back, he seems more than happy to operate in the tactician’s role while Dickson continues to steer.
“USA 98 has options, has modes, and one of the biggest features is Chris Dickson drives the boat extremely well. He’s very dialled in right now. I don’t think anyone is steering their boat as fast as Chris.
“He’s very confident with the boat. 98 is one thing, but having Chris Dickson drive it is the number one factor, it’s that package. He has a really good feel for the load on the rudder, that relationship is quite special. I’ve personally never been on a boat where we feel, we’re the only people that could screw it up for 98.”
Click here to listen to the whole MP3 interview with Brady in its entirety. It’s about 8 minutes.