WINDS: Southwesterly at 10 to 15 knots, probably starting light and building slightly during the afternoon.
SHIFTS: The wind should be reasonably steady as it comes in unimpeded off the ocean, so wind shifts will be less likely to affect the outcome than in a northerly.
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, engaging in close maneuvers and crossing the line first each time. On Friday, Australia II skipper John Bertrand was reluctant to mix it up. Expect more of the same.
TACTICS: In the last two races, Conner, in the lead, allowed Australia II's Bertrand to break away from him early. Bertrand profited by wind shifts and Conner lost both leads and both races. When Bertrand leads, he matches Conner move for move, covering the red American boat as closely as 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 the faster boat.
PROTESTS: The loser will very likely claim a foul, seeking to have the outcome reversed in a protest hearing. Both sides have been quick to cry foul, although 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 protests. Punishment for any foul or rules violation is disqualification. There is no appeal. The loser loses the race.
TELEVISION: No live coverage is planned, but all three networks will provide updates.