WINDS: Westerly and southwesterly breezes of 10 to 15 knots, probably starting light and building slightly during the afternoon.

SHIFTS: The breeze should veer south as the race progresses and shift unpredictably in small degrees all afternoon. Both sides stand to profit or lose position dramatically by being on the wrong or right side of a shift.

SKIES: Clear.

THE START: Noon. Early in the series Liberty avoided close encounters with the highly maneuverable Australia II during the 10-minute prestart maneuvers. But Liberty skipper Dennis Conner has turned aggressive the last three starts, engaged in close maneuvering and crossed the line first all three times. Expect more of the same.

TACTICS: In the last two races Conner, in the lead, allowed Australia II skipper John Bertrand to break away from him early. Bertrand profited by wind shifts and Conner lost both leads. When Bertrand leads, he matches Conner move for move, covering the red American boat as closely he can. Both should continue these tactics, Conner because he lacks boat speed to match Bertrand and must hope for the wind shifts to go his way, Bertrand because he's been successful employing a close cover.

ADVANTAGES: Conner has experience, the better crew and tactical skill. Bertrand has a faster boat.

PROTESTS: The loser very likely will claim a foul and seek to have the outcome reversed in a protest hearing. Both sides have been quick to cry foul, though only one formal protest has been heard so far, Liberty winning. Yachting rules are complicated and subject to endless interpretation. A five-man international jury will decide any protest. The punishment for any foul or rules violation is disqualification; the loser loses the race. There is no appeal.

TELEVISION: The entire race will not be televised. All three networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) plan live reports throughout the day.