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Dickson Offers a Sample of His Cup Predictions

January 22, 1992|RICH ROBERTS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Nippon Challenge skipper Chris Dickson has a scenario for how America's Cup XXVIII will develop:

"The top boats from the top teams will be pretty close. The New Zealand boat is the one exception. It's in a totally different corner of the design field. It'll be faster sometimes. It'll be slower other times.

"But they must be everyone's top pick. They're solid . . . (with) experience, a lot of good people, a top design team.

"Nippon Challenge is new to the event, doesn't have the experience at this level of yacht racing. It doesn't surprise me that we're not rated in the top few.

"This America's Cup is going to be boat speed but (also) a lot of match racing. (With) San Diego conditions and the new America's Cup Class, those that don't have the top match-racing skills are going to lose some races because of that.

"The starts are going to be very important. There are going to be collisions in pre-starts when masts come down. The first windward leg, the downwind tactics are all going to play a big part.

"The wind doesn't blow a steady 10 knots every day. It's a very shifty wind, very puffy conditions, (providing) a lot of passing opportunities."

Dickson was asked how Dennis Conner, an old adversary, will fare with a one-boat operation.

"Is he a one-boat operation? I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see another boat come out. Conner is not spending time on the water. If he is able to get up to the level needed, it'll be by copying what others are doing, which is uncharacteristic of Conner. In the past he's been the leader.

"I think the game today is different from when Dennis Conner was way on top. It's not 12-meters anymore."

Dickson does not dismiss the possibility that Conner will at same point merge with defense rival Bill Koch of America 3.

"But it's like combining GM with Ford. Do you get something stronger or do you get a mongrel of a car?"

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