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Alinghi hopes it can-can win cup

Can-can dancers were the only surprise at Alinghi's unveiling.
Can-can dancers were the only surprise at Alinghi's unveiling.

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- Can-can dancers helped Swiss team Alinghi reveal the yacht it hopes will win the America's Cup from Team New Zealand.

The team had made few changes to the hull of SUI-64, the same yacht it won the Louis Vuitton Cup with in January.

Five dancers lifted their skirts to reveal the yacht's name underneath during the unveiling ceremony.

Alinghi will race cup holder Team New Zealand in a best-of-nine series from February 15.

There was speculation that Alinghi would add a hull appendage to the yacht, following Team New Zealand's radical design revealed in January.

However, it appeared Alinghi's backer biotechnology billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli had made few changes to the boat.

Some observers have suggested Team New Zealand will have a significant speed advantage in mid-range to heavier winds but might be vulnerable in lighter winds, which dominated the four-month challengers' series.

Alinghi strategist Jochen Schuemann said he expected the two boats to be close in terms of speed, which meant the series would become a tactical battle.

"We tried to match our boat with them in every aspect of boat speed," Schuemann he said.

"After Saturday both teams will know where they stand and decide tactically how to sail, but at the moment we're just guessing how to sail against them," he said.

Team New Zealand revealed before the challengers final last month that they had used the new hull appendage on their two boats.

The "hula" is a hull appendage stretching from behind the keel to the rudder of their boats which is designed to add to the overall waterline length and increase speed.

The design pushes the limits of America's Cup class rules and is untested in Cup racing.

Team New Zealand said on Monday they had settled on NZL-82, the newest of their two boats, to take on Alinghi.

"You can't go into an America's Cup with a package that you think is vulnerable, so we've tried to strike a balance to make sure it'll be fine in the light winds," said New Zealand design coordinator Andrew Claughton.

"You'd be mad to try to sail a regatta here in a boat that you weren't comfortable sailing in light airs with," he said.

While light winds are more common off Auckland during the New Zealand summer, conditions traditionally become heavier with the onset of autumn.

The teams are now not allowed to make any significant changes to their boats before the start of racing.

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