Honolulu Star Bulletin (10/09/99)
By Ray Pendleton
There hasn't been much in our local media about Waikiki Yacht Club's America's Cup challenge team, Aloha Racing, now that the two, 90-foot, Abracadabra 2000 boats are in their compound in Auckland, N.Z.
But believe me, the team has been found newsworthy Down Under. And it's not just the two eye-catching, Wyland-painted hulls that are getting noticed.
In a piece written by Suzanne McFadden in the New Zealand Herald (you can see it yourself on the Internet), it seems Hawaii's team is also being credited for the extraordinary efforts its crew members have made in getting the boats race-ready.
McFadden noted that the Abracadabra camp has worked around the clock - three shifts a day - for two weeks to get its second boat, USA 54, seaworthy. This new Abracadabra 2000 is now in the water. But with the start of the first round robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series set to start in nine days, there is no letting up.
"It's been tough," Skipper John Kolius is quoted as saying.
"Forty guys working three shifts, 24 hours a day. For the first two weeks, the lights never went off at the base. We've really had to put the hammer down."
Kolius went on to explain how they built the first Abracadabra 2000, USA 50, and then spent too much time tinkering with it instead of concentrating on finishing USA 54 - the boat which will race in the first round robin.
Then, when the P&O Nedlloyd ship arrived in Honolulu to transport the boats from Hawai`i to New Zealand, the second Abracadabra 2000, USA 54, was still uncompleted.
"In a perfect world we would have left it in Hawai`i for another three weeks," Kolius told McFadden. "But when a free ship says it's time to go, you can't argue. I guess we've missed a couple of weeks sailing the boat here because of it. But hey, it's not a perfect world."
For the moment, USA 50, the boat that Aloha Racing tested offshore of Ko Olina, will stay in its Cup village shed, so the two boats won't be raced against each other just yet.
As McFadden points out, the two Abracadabras were designed for different conditions. It was planned for USA 54 to race first in what are expected to be stronger winds than the fleet will experience during the actual America's Cup Race in February and March of 2000.
For those of you who didn't get a chance to see USA 50 on her sea trials off Ko Olina, I have been told it will be featured on the Babe... I mean Baywatch episode airing tonight at 5 p.m. on KHON, Channel 2.
And for those of you who haven't provided support to Hawaii's challenger for the America's Cup, it's still not too late. Contact the Waikiki Yacht Club at 955-4405, or Dale Baker of the Aloha Racing Foundation at 1313 Thirteenth St. South, Birmingham, AL 35205, or call him at (205) 918-2136.
I know you may have heard the Hawaii Tourism Authority's opinion that the Aloha Racing Team doesn't stand a chance of winning. But did you know that MCI WorldCom has recently come on board as a major sponsor?
Now ask yourself, who would you expect to make better business decisions, a multi-billion-dollar corporation like MCI WorldCom, or one of Hawaii's politically appointed agencies?
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