German Frers, the Argentinian who designed the Il Moro di Venezia boats, got a close-up, underneath look at the America 3 boat Wednesday during the final, official measurement.
"It's a nice boat, very similar in concept to ours," Frers said. "They looked at ours, as well.
"I think the racing is going to be close. It all depends on whether Bill Koch will steer or not. He says that Raul Gardini has hired his jockeys, but I see him being baby-sitted around the course by Buddy Melges."
Frers said America 3's secret undersides is "a bulb and keel . . . a very small keel, very small rudder--small appendages. I think they changed the boat to a heavier air mode."
America 3's contention that the French illegally helped Il Moro make some of its sails remains a ticking time bomb leading up to the start of the match Saturday.
Frers said, "We borrowed a couple of sails from the French to look at."
The Italians then copied the sails "with some slight changes in design," Frers said.
As far as Ville de Paris' sailmaker helping to cut the Italian sails, Frers said, "That is absolutely not true."
Another report said Il Moro had four spinnakers made in Denmark by Diamond Sails and some gennakers made in France--which would be OK as long as an Italian national designed them.
Frers: "I think (the Cubens) are trying to defend themselves from the fact that they bought the French boat (for testing last year). I'm sure they took the lines and tested it. They were able to learn a lot of things for their keels and appendages."
Coronado residents hastily organized an informal sendoff for the New Zealand sailing team when it left "Kiwinado" Thursday.
Citizens who took the Kiwis to their hearts over the last two years stood on the median strip along Orange Ave. and waved and cheered as the team drove past on buses to the airport. Local merchants wept. . . . Well, they didn't wave and cheer.
Syndicate head Sir Michael Fay left a day earlier, stayed overnight in Los Angeles and flew home to Auckland on Thursday, still unwilling to speak about the staggering come-from-ahead defeat.
Tom Schnackenberg has an opinion about the skipper switch from Rod Davis to Russell Coutts that was linked to New Zealand's collapse at the end. Schnackenberg is a Kiwi and Davis' brother-in-law.
"I think it was a mistake," Schnackenberg said. "They might have given the other guy the start. But even if he's a better sailor, he hadn't sailed the boat as much. You could see it the way the boat was sailing, and in the crew.
"Rod hadn't been passed in any race, except one against the Italians recently."
Schnackenberg could offer no insight on one view that Coutts, the trial boat skipper, had refused the tactician's position on the race boat and Coutts' statement that he was never offered the position.
"I've heard that," Schnackenberg said, "but I honestly don't know."
Another view was that Davis and Coutts were incompatible.
"I sailed on the boat with the two of 'em in the ANZ Challenge at Sydney 15 months ago and I thought they worked pretty well together," Schnackenberg said.
Schnackenberg has stayed on to work for New Zealand television. Earlier, he was Spirit of Australia's sailmaker, so he's sensitive to criticism directed at Il Moro's American skipper, Paul Cayard, for betraying his country.
"It's an international sport," Schnackenberg said, "and the people who sail for a living and who work in sailing go to events and find themselves making friends in different nationalities and getting jobs.
"I first met Paul Cayard when he came and stayed with us in our flat in Vancouver in 1975. He was sailing dinghies out of San Francisco.
"I'm in favor of it. Otherwise, there is a certain restriction in your ability to make a living."
Schnackenberg thinks America 3 has the faster boat but picks Il Moro to win.
"If it's gonna go best-of-31 I'd put the money on America 3. In a best-of-seven short series I think the Italians will have more momentum."
Bruno Trouble, press officer for the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger trials, got a call from San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor about his comments in Thursday's Times concerning the city's lack of support for the Cup.
"I like San Diego," Trouble said he told her honor. "My family has enjoyed living here the past few months. I just don't think it's an appropriate city for the event. It's too big, with too many other things going on."
Trouble also said O'Connor had been helpful, and that his main problem with the America's Cup Organizing Committee was that "it's too bad they don't have the means to do what we do."