The 33rd America's Cup: Lawyers, Guns, and Money
The 33rd America's Cup: Lawyers, Guns, and Money
February 16, 2010
A Look Ahead to the 34th America's Cup
BMW Oracle Racing appears determined to take its time deciding on the class, location, and format for the 33rd America's Cup. We asked a few experts to weigh in with their thoughts on the process and the outcome.
America's Cup-winning design David Pedrick was involved in the creation of the America's Cup Class rule in 1988 and he was briefly the technical director for Alinghi's proposed AC33 class, before BMW Oracle Racing won its right to challenge for the Cup and the team's proved unable to agree upon what time it was, let alone a new class. He has some thoughts on the new class.
Had Alinghi won the America's Cup, it's a strong likelihood that the GreenComm Challenge would've been named the challenger of record and that the box-rule multihull would've been chosen as the new class. While Russell Coutts has said in the past he favors a monohull for match-racing, he said in his final press conference from Valencia that they would consider a multihull design. Double Olympic medalist Mitch Booth makes his case for a multihull America's Cup in this podcast.
Many people feel that the negative impact on the sport from the protracted court battle between Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing outweighed all the positives produced by seeing two of the most advanced sailing boats ever built dueling for the America's Cup. So with that in mind, we asked Alinghi counsel Hamish Ross to explain how one might go about amending the America's Cup Deed of Gift.
"A Bit of a Mutiny"
As was widely reported, Race 2 of the 33rd America's Cup was the race that almost didn't happen-and not for the reasons with which most sailors are familiar. Struggling against a fickle breeze and with poor weather looming for the foreseeable future, 33rd America's Cup principal race officer Harold Bennett kept the two multihulls on the water until late into the afternoon on Sunday. A half hour before the 4:30 p.m. cutoff for the start, the breeze finally solidified, 7 to 9 knots from the east, and Bennett indicated the he was aiming for a 4:25 p.m. start.
|New Zealander Harold Bennett was the principal race officer for the 33rd America's Cup.|
However, the Swiss team on Alinghi 5 didn't want to race, feeling most likely that the waves were too high, and relayed that to members of the Société Nautique de Genève working on the race committee boat. What happened next is just one last piece of absurdity in what has been a fairly unique chapter in the history of the America's Cup. Bennett sat down with four journalists yesterday (myself, Stuart Alexander of the Independent, Angus Phillips of the Washington Post, and Jim Doyle of the San Francisco Chronicle) to talk about the incident.
Harold, what happened on the boat when you tried to start Race 2? Is it true that the SNG members on the boat refused to perform their jobs?
We had a bit of a mutiny. I don't think SNG wanted to go, so they decided they weren't going to do flags. So Tom [Ehman, BMW Oracle Racing's head of external affairds] took the AP down and my boat driver, who's also an international umpire, he shot up forward and did the rest of the signals.
Does this stray into Rule 69 territory. Would you normal write a report for ISAF?
Yes I do have to and obviously that's going to be included in any report. That's what you do, you've got outline what's going on on the boat, whether it's good or bad.
What could've been their motivation? The wind was as light as it could get and still be stable.
We had a perfect breeze the way I saw it. I had good weather information from the Alinghi weather team. It was perfect, everything lined up, 8, 9 knots up the course. And it was like, well, let's do it.
Have you heard of a race committee at any regatta deciding they want to prevent the race being run?
No. Well I've certainly never experienced it. No I've never heard of that before.
When you said, 'Let's get this race off.' They just said, 'We're not doing it.'? No reason?
Well one guy was over my shoulder, telling me that the waves were too big, that the boats were going to break. I just said, I don't believe that. I know that boat boats when they were going upwind the alarms were going off. I understand that, I was told by the sailors of both teams afterward, last night. They were taking a little bit of strain. But crikey, if the boats are that flimsy, I guess it's a problem, isn't it.
They said they were pushing the boats as hard as they'd ever pushed them.
I think the guys have said that to me, that they did push them hard.
Strain in those situations is a matter of mainsheet load, and a lot of other things. There are a lot of things they can do to ease the strain.
You're right with that. But I guess if you look at the intricate systems that's underneath that cat, God you'd only need one of those to fail and the whole thing would fold up like a pack of cards.
But they always knew that?
I guess they would, they would know that.
I don't know of any race boat that you don't push hard on occasion.
Isn't that what you do with the boat, you drive it, you drive it hard. I don't know, I guess both of them have built their boats to a, I don't know, a fairly low spec as far as strength is concerned. They're obviously very strong, if you have your alarms going off yesterday, stuff like that
Well it depends where you've set the alarm?
I guess it is, yeah.
I said in the press conference, after the first or second day we didn't race, I had now idea where the limits where in these boats. Up until we'd had these boats on the water that was the first time I'd seen the Oracle boat, apart from one day it came past us and then went in. I'd not seen that one wound up in anger, if you like to put it, around us. I'd seen the Alinghi boat a bit, we ran a couple of races for them leading up to the regatta. I had no idea where the limits are, I don't know, but I've got a better idea now. I don't think you would be able to put them out into much seaway, it would be dangerous for them.
What kind of wave heights were you seeing yesterday?
I would've thought the swells were close to a meter. They were some quite big swells that came through at one stage. They were long; they were fairly well apart. But I think for those boats they were probably not quite straddling them. They were into them and over them, so I guess that was putting quite a lot of pressure on them, when they dipped the hull into the wave in front.
In the U.K. there's an obsession with health and safety, duty of care. Were those concepts being voiced at all by fellow members of your race committee.
No their concern was more over the club's insurance on the event, liability for the event, if there was an accident, which if I understand it, surrounded the notice of race. So what was written in the original notice of race, and subsequently pulled out, left them in a bit of a position where it was like, 'Wow, if we're outside of these parameters, we've got a problem.'
So the concern was financial and not for people?
I can't answer that. I don't know what their thinking behind it was. I certainly was concerned about the safety of the guys on the boat, if one of these things folded up, or they had a collision, that was a concern that I had. That was one of the reasons with the length of the starting line. I had no idea what we should do with the starting line. I know that for match racing, a 30-second line is ideal, but with these boats, a 30-second line is only like 400 meters. You put them head-to-head doing 20 knots, that's a 40-knot collision course as they're coming together. If one of them got it wrong, you'd have a real problem. That's why I settled on what I did, which was like 800 meters. At the end of the day I don't think that was too far wrong.
What parameters did you think the conditions yesterday exceeded?
Yesterday, that was the point that was being made to me, that the waves were too big.
It's a tough job, being a PRO. There's no real hard and fast standards. Everything is on a variable scale. There's no way of saying this is OK and this isn't other than common sense.
Absolutely. It's common sense, it's what you see; it's your gut feeling. Which was a point I was trying to make with the guys on the race committee with me was that you can't make a committee decision on every thing that's going to happen on the water. It doesn't work. One person has got to deal with that and that's what a race officer does. From my perspective looking at that, it's your gut feeling about what you think is going to happen, what you can see, and you do it. From my point of view; that's worked out fine. But there are people probably have other views about that. I did it the best of my ability and I don't see an issue with that.
Who was on the race committee boat?
Lucien [Masmejan, Alinghi counsel] and Tom Ehman were the two observers from the team. Not participating, there just to observe. Then myself, a boat driver who's Spanish, who's also an international umpire. Then another Spanish guy who coordinated my thoughts about what I wanted on the race track as far as position on marks and stuff like that. He did all the communications for me. The guys on the mark boats, they were all Spanish as well, so his role was vital. The SNG guys there were four of them, one was Fred Meyer, he didn't really participate, he watched. The other three guys, two of them were doing flags, one was doing the time keeping and calling the flags. I have to say that Pascal, the guy doing that, he stood by his post, he did the job, doing the time and calling the signals. I applaud him for that. I thanked him sincerely for that. If he'd have walked off too, we had a problem. So my boat driver did the flags on the front, Tom Ehman took the AP down when it was time and we just got on with the rest of it.
Can you remember the names of the other two guys from SNG?
One was Marcel and the other was Nicolas Grange. Granche is the cat sailor, who was, I guess, the expert for multihull sailing. [ed's note: Grange is president of the Swiss Multihull Assocation]
Technically they were under your direction?
Absolutely. That's how you operate on a boat. My role was to coordinate the whole thing and make the calls and the rest of them were to do the job.
Larry Ellison made a definitive statement at his victory press conference that he will use an independent body to manage and run the 34th America's Cup. How do they do that so that you can do your job, without your impartiality coming into question, warranted or not?
I think the concept of America's Cup Management [the body set up to run the 32nd America's Cup] was fine. It got to be an ugly animal, there was a lot of people involved in it. But the race side of that, the racing part of it, was like it's own group that was in ACM. Dyer Jones headed that and Peter "Luigi" Reggio and I were the two principal race officers doing the job, well he was principal and I was senior. There was a committee there that was three of us, plus two Spanish guys who were our deputies, that was the race committee and we would discuss things. When you go to the water, the two race officers, they do that. I think what Larry Ellison has pointed out, and Russell has mentioned it as well. An independent body to run the racing, yup, I think that's a damn good idea. You pull n from wherever the key people to take up those roles. As long as it's not all from the same country, or something like that, then you probably have a pretty good mix of people.
How do you make it independent? ACM was ostensibly independent, but we still had these questions.
I would think they may set up a company that has a board which involves people from all the teams, or something like that. That's what I would think, I don't know, but that would be sensible and they'd hire the right people to do the job. If I happen to be one of those, then so be it. I'd probably do it again. But that's for someone else to decide.
February 14, 2010
Guilain Grenier/BMW Oracle Racing
|James Spithill, Russell Coutts, Larry Ellison, and John Kostecki hoist America's Cup.
Audio Files from the Press Conferences and Interviews
Winning tactician John Kostecki talks about the layline call (or perhaps The Layline Call), match racing in multihulls, what winning the America's Cup means to him, and his unique place in sailing history.
Mascalzone Latino Audi Team Confirmed at Challenger of Record
When informed that Mascalzone Latino Audi had informed some journalists (including this one) that it would be the challenger of record for the 34th America's Cup, Larry Ellison replied, "Vincenzo Onorato is a good friend and I've never known him to tell a lie."
So that much is confirmed. Everything else is up in the air, including whether there will be a press conference in the near future to announce any details. Ellison sounded like a man who would much like to take this Cup to the United States. He refused to say whether he'd consider Valencia as the venue for the 34th America's Cup. As for American cities, he mentioned Newport, San Francisco, and San Diego, though one probably shouldn't draw too much as those are the obvious choices.
Reaction from Sir Keith Mills, Founder, TeamOrigin
"I'm really glad to see that the fog that has beset the America's Cup for the last two and half years has lifted almost overnight. The sporting contest that took place on the waters of Valencia over the past few days has been demonstrative and overwhelming. In the next 24 hours or so TeamOrigin expects the lasts whisps of mist to disappear when the new Defender and its Challenger of Record announce their mutual consent plans for the 34th America's Cup. We look forward to that moment."
The Cup Returneth Home: BMW Oracle Racing Wins the 33rd America's Cup
Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW Oracle Racing
|It didn't come cheaply or easily-but then good things never do-but Larry Ellison has won the 33rd America's Cup.
The Alinghi design team can hold its collective head a little higher after Race 2 of the 33rd America's Cup. The team's monster catamaran showed it is an impressive weapon in the right conditions. But the occasional advantage was all for naught as some atypical tactical mistakes by the Swiss team cost it any chance of evening the series and handed the 33rd America's Cup to Larry Ellison, BMW Oracle Racing, and the Golden Gate YC of San Francisco.
Ellison has chased the America's Cup for a decade, spending hundreds of millions of his own money in the process. For the most part he's found disappointment and frustration, failing to win the challenger selection series in 2002 and 2007, falling in the semifinals in the latter elimination series. But today, on the chilly Mediterranean Sea, he won the oldest and most prestigious trophy in sailing. It took a 110-foot trimaran and a 223-foot hard wing sail, and an army of lawyers just to arrange the match. But that didn't dampen the smile on his face as he sailed across the finish line.
Alinghi made some crucial changes to its craft in the 48 hours between the end of Race 1 and the start of Race 2, which was delayed until 4:25 p.m. local time due to light and variable wind conditions. The team sailed with a deeper, more powerful mainsail, and a smaller headsail. After a tack and a change of helmsman, from owner Ernesto Bertarelli to French multihull legend Loïck Peryon, the team finally appeared to find the groove. At the time the team was trailing by as much as 300 meters and carrying a penalty from being inside the starting box at the 5-minute gun-an inexcusable error for such an experienced team. But the Swiss catamaran chomped so quickly into the lead of BMW Oracle Racing that it seemed there was a hope for the Swiss syndicate. As the two boats sailed along roughly parallel courses from the right-hand corner of the course to the port-tack layline, Alinghi showed better performance-better height and better speed-and benefited from a 10- to 15-degree right shift. At times Alinghi opened up a lead of 500 meters over the American trimaran.
Guilain Grenier/BMW Oracle Racing
|An BMW Oracle Racing fan at the team's 8 a.m. dock out, bundled up against a morning chill.
At the last possible moment, however BMW Oracle Racing tactician John Kostecki sniffed out a substantial left shift and after tacking and getting back up to speed, the American boat was suddenly almost bow-to-bow (or is it bows-to-bows?) with Alinghi 5. While the Swiss team had the starboard advantage, tactician Brad Butterworth was in a tough spot. The American team nailed the layline. If Alinghi tacked short of BMW Oracle Racing's line, the team might not make the mark. Two extra tacks by Alinghi would seal the race for BMW Oracle Racing. If they tacked in front, they were likely to foul the American boat by tacking too close. Butterworth took Option 3, sailing past the line held by BMW Oracle Racing helmsman James Spithill and tacking on a very generous layline. It was the safe option, but it was also all the opening Spithill needed. The 30-year-old Australian skipper slid to leeward of Alinghi 5, powered into the lead, and comfortably made the windward mark. Once around, the trimaran showed that there's no substitute for power and righting moment on a beam reach. The 90-foot-wide trimaran quickly sped away from the 80-foot-wide catamaran. By mark 2, after a 13-mile reach on which the trimaran regularly exceeded 30 knots of boatspeed, the lead had grown from 150 meters to 2,000 meters, from 28 seconds to 2:44. All that remained was for BMW Oracle Racing to get across the finish line without any catastrophic breakages.
A dying breeze forced BMW Oracle Racing to jibe for the finish, and allowed Alinghi to halve the lead, but it wasn't enough to ever put the outcome in doubt.
With owner Larry Ellison on board-Ellison stepped off just before the start of Race 1 due to weight concerns-but without team CEO Russell Coutts, the team sped across the finish line to take the 33rd America's Cup.
According to the Mascalzone Latino Audi team, the Italian syndicate led by shipping magnate Vincenzo Onorato will be the Challenger of Record for the 34th America's Cup. A BMW Oracle Racing spokesman declined to confirm this, saying the team has yet to announce anything.
AP Down, At the Last Minute
The sequence is underway. Race 2, 39-mile triangle. Will this decide the America's Cup?
Vincenzo Onorato is reportedly on the Rising Sun, Larry Ellison's monster powerboat, which has left the Darsena for the course.
Breeze is still out of the north in the harbor, but it's very light. The sooner it turns to the south, the better for racing.
The Rumor Mill on Full Grind
With BMW Oracle Racing one race away from winning the America's Cup-and that race seeming to be a foregone conclusion-the focus in the media center is turning toward who Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts will choose to be the challenger of record for the 34th America's Cup. And what the format for that regatta will be.
Here are the most prevalent rumors:
1. Vincenzo Onorato was present for BMW Oracle Racing's dock out this morning (and his lawyer has been in town as well). He recently signed a new sponsor for his Mascalzone Latino Audi team, though it was not the level of sponsorship needed to run an America's Cup campaign. Onorato has been one of the people in BMW Oracle Racing's camp from the beginning. He has tremendous respect for Coutts. This is tough to call, Onorato is clearly in love with the America's Cup. However he recently installed his wife as the president of the team and is reportedly very involved with his shipping/ferry business.
2. Torbjorn Tornqvist's Team Artemis has also been mentioned as a possible COR. Coutts served as Tornqvist's tactician on his Swan 601 a few years ago, and on the TP 52 as well. And Coutts and current Artemis skipper Paul Cayard get along well personally and professionally (when Coutts was locked out of the 2007 Cup, they attempted to start the World Sailing League in 80-foot one-design catamarans). This makes sense, however, if it's true I doubt Cayard would've split for Dubai on Saturday. Torqvist is an America's Cup rookie and after all the critical talk about Alinghi not picking a credible challenger in the Club Náutico Español de Vela, having a savvy vet like Cayard present for the announcement and press conference would seem to be a prudent move.
3. The locals are undoubtedly rooting for Option 3, a new Spanish team from the Club Nautico (in Valencia) run by Volvo vet Pedro Campos. Ellison and Coutts have said they are keen to quickly re-start the Cup and rebuild momentum. In an interview with Sailing World a year or so ago, commodore Marcus Young said Golden Gate YC wouldn't be against holding the 34th Cup in Valencia due to the logistical hurdles involved with running the regatta in San Francisco. 2012 in Valencia might be the quickest path to the event. But it's likely the city would want to the comfort of a hometown COR before it opens up its wallets to support the event.
4. While opinions vary on the COR, everyone seems in agreement that should Alinghi win, the World Sailing Teams Association and the Louis Vuitton Trophy tour (Auckland in March, Sardinia in May, Dubai in November, Hong Kong in January 2011) will be quickly brought into the fold. LV's Bruno Troublé has been very visible over the past few days.
Is This It?
The forecast looks promising for racing today. It's clear and cold in Valencia, which probably isn't great if you're working on the bow in 25 knots of apparent wind, but good if you'd like to see Race 2 today. Here is what Alinghi has posted on their website.
W 5-10 knots in the morning, turning southerly 4-10 knots in the afternoon and building. Sunny - cloudy late afternoon
Waves up to 1m
Alinghi 5 crew list
Bow 1: Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen (NED)
Bow 2: Curtis Blewett (CAN)
Bow 3: Jan Dekker (RSA/FRA)
Pitman: Rodney Ardern (NZL)
Trimmer upwind: Simon Daubney (NZL)
Trimmer downwind: Nils Frei (SUI)
Mainsail trimmer: Warwick Fleury (NZL)
Traveller: Pierre-Yves Jorand (SUI)
Helmsman: Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI)
Tactician: Brad Butterworth (NZL)
Strategist: Murray Jones (NZL)
Navigator: Juan Vila (ESP)
Floater: Loïck Peyron (FRA)
Pre-start: Peter Evans (NZL)
USA 17 crew list
Brad Webb (NZL) - Bowman
Simone de Mari (ITA) - Pitman
Ross Halcrow (NZL) - Jib Trimmer
Dirk de Ridder (NED) - Wing Sail Trimmer
Joey Newton (AUS) - Wing Sail Caddy
John Kostecki (USA) - Tactician
James Spithill (AUS) - Skipper/Helmsman
Matteo Plazzi (ITA) - Navigator
Thierry Fouchier (FRA) - Aft Pit
Matthew Mason (NZL) - Mast
February 13, 2010
The Swiss Win The Swiss Win
The Normal Hill ski jumping competition at the Vancouver Olympics. Simon Ammann (aka Harry Potter) took the first gold of the 2010 Olympics. Hopefully that will assuage some of the pain from Friday's whupping on the Med. I noticed that some of the skiing competitions (the Men's Downhill, the Women's Combined) were postponed due to poor weather and a potentially soft and bump track (why does that sound familiar?). How long before someone at a press conference asks about what Baron Pierre de Coubertin would've thought of outdoor competitions being postponed because of poor weather? Probably a while, as all those journalists are still in Valencia.
Another Lyrics Contest Entry
If you want to win a BMW Oracle Racing duffel bag, submit your best America's Cup altered song lyrics here. Here's a strong entry from Craig Leweck and Daniel Forster (a transatlantic partnership, since one is in Valencia, the other in San Diego). It was submitted on Thursday, before Race 1.
How many days must a man wait to watch
Race one of this Match?
Yes'n how many reasons must a man have to hear
The cause for the delay?
Yes'n how much longer will the public wait
Before they lose complete interest?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
I do have to remind them I only have one bag. Should they win, they'll have to determine how to split up the booty. If they cut the bag in half, the 30-pack will most definitely fall out.
Flash Quotes from Friday's Press Conferences (Courtesy the 33rd America's Cup media team, though I can vouch they are all accurate as I was in the audience)
BMW ORACLE Racing Team:
James Spithill (AUS) skipper/helm BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA): "Obviously it was quite exciting at the start. We were able to get a piece of them in the entry and that is something we had been thinking about for quite some time, and it started to set up to look like we might be able to get a penalty on them, so I pushed it pretty hard in there. Obviously that left us pretty close to them and we then we had a hard time slowing the boat down. We were in a pretty controlling position then, as time went on through we got ourselves stuck in irons, but also I want to say well done to Alinghi, they did a good job getting out from there."
"We still have a lot to learn. It kind of showed today that we aren't at race level preparation that we are kind of used to in these campaigns. But it was an exciting start with plenty of action."
Larry Ellison (USA) team founder and afterguard BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA): " I think my emotions started when it looked like we were going to race in three and a half knots of breeze. Russell and I were on the boat and we were told that we might be sailing in 20 minutes then we had the call to get as many people off the boat and as much stuff as possible off the boat to sail as light as possible, because there was a very, very light breeze. I had to get off the boat and so did Russell. And so we sailed with a minimum crew. So I think it is more stressful to watch than to sail."
Russell Coutts (NZL) CEO and afterguard BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA):
" I think it is early days. I said before the series that you wont be able to draw conclusions from the first few minutes of these races
.but how about that wing
"It looked pretty good from where I was sitting today. I think the team did a good job. The guys on board sailed a really nice race, pretty much faultless. They had a few problems at the start, that can happen in these boats, but we are very, very happy with where we are, but we are only a tiny way into this series now. There is so much more work to do. We know we are up against the best team out there and we are certainly not going to take our foot off the throttle. We are going to try and improve our performance further."
Larry Ellison (USA) team founder and afterguard BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA): " The piece of kit we are most proud is the wing." "Today I did say that sailing is a lot harder than running a software company!"
Russell Coutts (NZL) CEO and afterguard BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA): "I think it is just way too early to draw too many conclusions. We are only one race into the series. We will see at the end of the series in terms of the relative values of the wing."
James Spithill (AUS) skipper/helm BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA):
"To be honest I think we carried a bit of pressure down, I think we carried it down the lane. It was one of those things, I think, where the boat in the lead was always gaining. Having said that I think that JK (tactician John Kostecki) did a really nice job, he absolutely nailed it on the downwind leg. Full credit to him and the weather team."
"It was very very shifty, very very puffy."
"It was certainly good to see the guys under pressure like that because it did not really phase them one bit. They all just got straight back into what they were supposed to do and that is sailing the boat fast."
Brad Butterworth (NZL) skipper/tactician Alinghi (SUI): "We tried to keep the boats apart with having the bottom pin offset but it was not actually set up that well, and we thought we had just done enough but obviously not. But that really did not have any reflection on who won the race. It made some interesting stop and start, in irons and going backwards, something we'd never done on multihulls."
Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), helmsman and team president Alinghi (SUI): "For sure at the start after the penalty it felt good they were stopped we could gybe and start. The wind changed quite rapidly. We had six or seven knots during the pre start and right off the start we were surprised with the wind coming in so strong, so quickly, 12 knots, but we thought we were doing good. But they caught up. We had to make a sail change which slowed us, but they were fast today and the wing seems to be quite a weapon. "
Brad Butterworth (NZL) skipper/tactician Alinghi (SUI): "They certainly showed how fast they can get their boat going. They could not have come off the line in a worse position and they ended up in a very strong position. When you are sitting in front of them and they sail up and around you, that is speed."
Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), helmsman and team president Alinghi (SUI): "Actually we had too much sail area for the most part of the race. We did not have the set up we would have liked to have had. There was a bit more wind than we expected, so I don't think sail area would have made much of a difference. It does, I think, show that the wing is quite versatile in many different conditions, but I am not sure sail area would have made much of a difference."
Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), helmsman and team president Alinghi (SUI): "I have absolutely no regrets and no frustration. Actually I quite enjoyed myself on the water today. It's racing, you win, you lose that is part of the game. We gave everything we have got over the last two and a half years. So there there is nothing to be frustrated about or ashamed about. Again, the Cup is not over. We still have one race to go. They have to cross the line, finish the race and score two points."
Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), helmsman and team president Alinghi (SUI):
"I tell you, when you are in my position with the ten years that are behind and the team I have and the opportunity to race one more, or maybe two more races in the America's Cup, you can't call any day a hard day in the America's Cup. They are all good days. Today it just happened they were faster, they sailed a good race."
"We lost and I learned over the years that losing is part of enjoying sailing and going racing."
|The Italian Azzura team heads upwind in a punchy northeasterly and sloppy sea off Valencia, while All4One prepared to douse their spinnaker.|
The Man on My Err The Street Asks
|All4One, with Seb Col at the helm rounds the leeward mark and heads upwind. Practice was called soon after due to excessive wind and waves. It was also freezing cold.
So you know what other type of sailboats don't like 15 to 20 knots and lumpy seas? That's right the previous boats for the America's Cup. I was supposed to spend the afternoon as the 18th man with All4One, the French-German effort that carried on from Areva/K-Challenge and is training for the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Auckland in March (an event that's taking on more and more significance as BMW Oracle Racing closes in on the 33rd America's Cup). However, by the time I got out to the course on the lunch tender, two of the three boats training, the Italian Azzura team and Mascalzone Latino Audi had packed in due to too much wind and rough seas (and freezing cold temperatures). The All4One team called it a day before I could even get on the boat. All I got was a wet and bruising powerboat ride.
But that did allow me to get back to my hotel in time to do a little work and answer some "Man on the Street" questions posed by one of my most loyal readers, my dad.
Q: How does the slot in that BMW Oracle Racing's wing work? Looks to me like it breaks the sail into two kite panels and wipes out any airfoil?
A: I'm going to apologize in advance to any aeronautical engineers reading this. The slot helps to recharge the air passing along the long, or low-pressure, side of the foil, which allows for more camber (which translates into more power) to be put into the sail without causing a stall. This is similar to an airplane wing (which can have its camber built in because it's an asymmetric foil) when preparing for landing. The rear flaps move out and down, creating a more powerful airfoil for low-speed maneuvering. Without the slot, the air from the high pressure side (the bottom, or windward in the case of the sail) could come around the back of the foil to meet the air traveling along the low-pressure side. This creates stall, which kills the lift, and adds a ton of drag. You'll see the slot at it's biggest when the angle between the two elements of BMW Oracle Racing's wing is at its greatest (the sail is at maximum curve), in light air and/or while going downwind. In heavy air, when minimizing drag is more important than creating lift, the slot will be at its smallest.
Q: Did anybody (press, engineers, crews) have an idea before the race that the race would be so lopsided?
A: No one was sure of anything. The BMW Oracle Racing team exuded a very quiet confidence, which is often the most dangerous (to the opponent) in America's Cup sailing. But I don't feel the race was so lopsided. The delta (time difference between the two boats) for the first leg, factoring in BMW Oracle Racing's late start, was less than 5 minutes. For a 90-minute leg, that's only a 5-percent advantage to Alinghi. That the trimaran was also faster downwind, in light conditions, was a big surprise. However, the final delta was skewed by the fact that Alinghi had to do a penalty turn and struggled to complete it. I would guess that BMW Oracle Racing gained another 7 minutes on the downwind, though the leg was shorter.
The reaction from Alinghi chief designer Rolf Vrolijk, who was all but unbeatable in the America's Cup Class leadmines, suggests the Swiss team was genuinely surprised not to be able to stay with the trimaran, at least in what they hoped were favorable conditions for Alinghi 5.
Q: I was really surprised to see how well these boats tacked and were able to maintain some speed in the process. I've never seen a Hobie Cat be able to do that.
A: Most Hobie Cats are fairly ancient compared to these multis. The 14s and 16s, which most people think of when they think of catamarans didn't have daggerboards and didn't point well. Modern beach cats, with daggerboards and flatter aft hull sections, can tack and jibe quite well. Technique is also important, getting as far as possible through the turn on one hull, then backing the jib to help complete the turn. Trimarans, because they can pivot on the center hull, are traditionally more nimble than catamarans, though Alinghi looked plenty agile in Race 1.
Q: Will we now see sailboats without jibs? I always thought that the jib gave a boat the pointing ability?
A: 200,000 Laser sailors would beg to differ. Those cat-rigged boats point just fine with just one sail. The jib is an efficient way to add sail area (i.e. power) without increasing the height. Two sails also make it easier to balance the boat. But the bottom line on the wing is it's incredibly efficient and that gives the boat tremendous speed and height.
Q: Is the wing sail technology likely to find itself into the mainstream sailing world and if so how quickly? Or is it too difficult to manage in everyday sailing, wind/wave conditions?
A: Given the cost of producing a wing, we're not likely to see any production boats in the near future (of course, I could be wrong). However, C-Class catamarans (around 22 feet long, and 11 feet wide) have employed wings for years in their battle for the Little America's Cup. The next LAC regatta will be this September at the New York YC in Newport, R.I. The Canadian team, which holds the Cup, was hired by Oracle to help develop and care for the wing.
Everyone on Oracle talks about how easy the wing is to sail. The loads are significantly less (the main sheet load on Alinghi can be upwards of 20 tons, while BMW Oracle Racing sets the angle of attack of the wing (more like a traveler since the camber is set by hydraulics) with a load of around 2 tons. I would imagine sailing it takes some getting used to-and you'd need a way to see the tell tales on the leeward side-but I think the difficulty comes in maintaining all the moving parts and the cost of development.
Q: Was this a betting event in Europe? What were the odds prior to Race 1? What are they today?
A: What isn't a betting event in Europe? Plenty of people here have some money on the race. However not yours truly, since I was thinking Alinghi might have an edge in light air. Before Race 1, the odds were running in favor of BMW Oracle Racing, maybe 5 to 8 or so. Now of course, that's all changed. Two sites I checked appeared to have pulled the line from the betting table. Another had BMW Oracle Racing at 1 to 16 (bet $16 to win $1) while Alinghi was at 31 to 10 (be $10 to win $31).
February 12, 2010
Feelin' Good Billy Ray! BMW Oracle Racing Takes Race 1 of the 33rd America's Cup
Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW Oracle Racing
|When Jerry Bruckheimer directs a movie about the America's Cup, you can bet this image will be a part of it. BMW Oracle Racing on their way to a trouncing in Race 1 of the 33rd America's Cup. Find more of Martin-Raget's photo of Race 1 here.
If the performance difference upwind, in light air, was surprising, then the gap downwind between the two boats contesting the 33rd America's Cup was downright astonishing. BMW Oracle Racing put itself in a significant hole early, as skipper James Spithill went from hero to goat in a manner of seconds during a unexpectedly contentious pre-start, but quickly rebounded in a display of sailing power that has never been seen before. The American challenger funded in large part by Larry Ellison won Race 1 of the 33rd America's Cup-a best two-of-three series-by a final margin of 15:28. Alinghi was significantly closer throughout the race, but struggled to complete a penalty turn correctly at the finish.
It took BMW Oracle Racing's trimaran, powered by the 223-foot wing, just 15 minutes to make up the 600-meter deficit incurred by the mistake at the start. From there the race was all about the black trimaran, which seemed to be consistently sailing with more power, closer to the wind on the upwind legs and closer to the rhumb line on the downwind legs, than the Swiss catamaran.
Alinghi showed a brief sign of life on the upwind leg when the BMW Racing Oracle crew furled its jib and sailed on the wing alone. The Swiss boat ground into the lead, getting it down to less than 150 meters before BMW Oracle Racing once again found conditions to its liking and quickly legged away. The delta at the windward mark was 3:21, meaning BMW Oracle Racing made up nearly 5 minutes on a 90-minute leg.
But on a 20-mile leg, a 3:21 lead isn't anything close to secure. And in the 6- to 8-knots conditions the general consensus was if Alinghi's catamaran was close upwind it might have a chance on the return. But not long after the catamaran turned the corner it was apparent that keeping the Swiss boat on one hull was much more difficult, requiring a more active helm. While Ernesto Bertarelli, who appeared to drive his boat for most, if not all, of the race, struggled to find the right groove, Spithill kept BMW Oracle Racing pressed on the leeward ama and flying downwind. At times the speed differential between the two boats hovered at 4 to 5 knots, and that doesn't factor in the VMG gain that BMW Oracle Racing gained by sailing lower than the catamaran.
|Alinghi 5 (right) speeds through the lee of a stalled USA 17, which still has to head back and properly start the race after being caught over early.
The final delta is skewed due to Alinghi struggling to properly complete their penalty turn. Initially it looked to be around 10 minutes, but the race committee didn't stop the clock until 15:28.
Does this mean the America's Cup will be coming home-although whether the 34th Cup will be held in the United States should BMW Oracle Racing win is the subject of some debate? The answer has definitely skewed strongly toward the challenger. But again, there's another race to sail, and Alinghi did have its moments in Race 1. It's window of opportunity to beat BMW Oracle Racing seems quite narrow. But the door hasn't closed completely on Alinghi's run as holder of sailing's oldest trophy.
James Spithill Quotes (Courtesy the BMW Oracle Racing press team)
On the pre-start: "We did a pretty nice job we were able to get the penalty and really had them on the ropes. But we got locked in to windward and tried to tack out but had a bit of a fumble and got stuck in the breeze. It didn't turn out the way I wanted it to! But leading up to that, the guys did a great job of putting us in a very powerful position."
On the boat speed: "I always thought if we were able to fly a hull we'd be faster upwind, but I was genuinely surprised downwind."
On the second half of the race: "For the downwind sail combination, the trimmers and weather guys made a good call. We decided to run with the Code 0 downwind and it was definitely the sail. JK (tactician John Kostecki) and Matteo (Navigator Matteo Plazzi) did a great job of getting us on the layline."
On his feelings on the day: "This was one of the hardest days I've had on the boat with the pressure and direction changes. But all in all it was a good day. I'm sure there are some improvements we can make, but obviously it was great."
On needing one more win: "We're taking each race as it comes There is stuff we can do to improve. Obviously downspeed we need some practice! We're excited to get this one in. It's full credit to the guys. For the shore guys and the guys who got it ready for us, today was a day where everything was great on the boat and that was really key for us as well."
Lookin' Good Billy Ray?
|On set at BMW Oracle Racing's base with Peter Lester (center) and Martin Tasker (right)
All signs point toward a race. TV commentator Andy Green said there will be racing today. But then, he said the same thing on Monday.
I finished the intro show with BMW Oracle Racing house commentators Martin Tasker and Peter Lester, who were generally nice to a TV rookie, though they did put me in the hot seat, literally, with the sun baking me from behind and the studio lights from in front. Andy Rice has taken over the third seat for the moment. We're all just sitting around waiting for something to happen. But the fact that Cam Lewis, PJ Montgomery, and Green are all talking is a very good sign. If racing didn't seem imminent, they'd probably be saving their bullets for later.
Standing by in Valencia
Just before 1:30 p.m., local time, and Alinghi looks very keen to sail. We've seen this before, the team that wants to sail parading around at full speed, as if to scream, "See there's plenty of wind, let's get racing." The other team plodding around trying to make it appear as if there's not enough breeze. Got to think they'll get going soon.
Third Time's the Charm?
Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW Oracle Racing
|Like Brad Webb said, the gear is big, really big.|
The boats have left the harbor and are heading out to the course. But whether we'll get any racing in remains to be seen. The reports in the media center indicate that the race committee is setting up for a southerly even though there's currently a northwesterly breeze on the course. Hmm. That's not promising, at least for an on-time start at noon. So while you're waiting, check out my podcast with bowman extraordinaire Brad Webb, one of many really great guys in the America's Cup. I had the pleasure of sailing with Webb a few years ago in a Farr 40 event. Among his other talents, Webb, a Kiwi, could recite the entire dinner scene from Talledega Nights in a perfect southern accent. Which is always good for breaking up a wind delay. Maybe he'll be entertaining the boys on USA 17 with such a performance today.
Also, check out the BMW Oracle Racing live stream, I'll be over at the team base helping Martin Tasker and Peter Lester provide some commentary for the team's webstream. The link is at the top of the page.
February 11, 2010
A Shift Away from the Shifts
|Alinghi weather team leader Jon Bilger, on the job.|
Alinghi's weather team, Jon Bilger and Jack Katzfey, held a briefing for the media. They didn't have much to offer on whether there's going to be racing tomorrow, though the general sense is that the seas will be too rough after the blow today, up to 2 meters in the morning, even though the wind is expected to taper off throughout the day, from 15 to 20 knots in the morning on down.
But they did have a few interesting points regarding their job this time around.
• Windspeed is the most important piece of information for the sailing team. This is a marked change from the 32nd America's Cup in the ACC monohulls. In 2007 the call for the first beat (generally reduced to left or right and how much confidence there was in the call) was almost always determined by wind direction. Once powered up, which happened around 10 or 11 knots of wind, extra wind pressure didn't really provide much of an advantage for the lead mines. Wind direction was vital, a few degrees of shift was all that was needed to get the crucial edge for the first cross. This time around, it's wind speed. Bilger said that finding an extra knot of windspeed can be equivalent to a 20-degree shift in the old boats.
• When talking about sailing the big multihulls, Bilger talked about blind sailing. Because of the speed of the boats, and the fact that it's too dangerous to send anyone up the rig for wind spotting, the teams can only see about 3 minutes into the future. And that's for a 60- to 90-minute leg. In the 32nd Cup, with the windspotter up the rig, the teams could see 10 to 16 minutes ahead, easily half of the typical 25-minute upwind leg on a 3-mile course.
|With mast heights reaching 200 feet for the 33rd America's Cup craft, Alinghi employed microlight aircraft to measure the wind, as well as the weather boats that were so ubiquitous in previous Cup campaigns.|
• The Alinghi team has nine weather boats, a bunch of weather buoys, and the two microlight planes. The planes had a lot of doubters, said Bilger, but have proven very useful for taking readings at masthead height (around 60 meters) where they find the breeze can be as much as 6 to 7 knots more than on the water, which explains how the boats are often seen sailing at 20 knots over a glassy sea. The microlights, which fly at around 40 knots and can fly in winds up to 25 knots, are extremely cheap to operate, using around 10 liters/hour of fuel, compared to 120 liters/hour of fuel for a weather boat at full throttle.
• Alighi also has a LIDAR installation on the edge of the port. LIDAR stands for LIght Detection And Ranging (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LIDAR) and Alinghi uses it to profile the wind vertically. LIDAR is also the key to the Catch the Wind technology that BMW Oracle Racing has been testing.
• The final weather call, at least in terms of what sails to carry, is made around 1.5 hours before the start. By an hour to the start, the sails for the race are on board. At 8 minutes to the start the communication hardware (including a satellite phone since cell phones don't work 20 miles offshore) is shut down, loaded into a waterproof case, and tossed overboard. As with the 32nd America's Cup, inside of 5 minutes to go to the start the teams are on their own in terms of weather predictions.
• Bilger said that about 50 percent of the days over the past few weeks have been sailable. However, he added, that only 50 percent of the days are race days due to the every-other-day format.
• The Alinghi weather team's accuracy is about the same as in 2007, when they said their forecasts were about 80 percent good, and 20 percent "not so good."
• Talking about Monday's aborted start, Bilger said that virtually every boat he had positioned around the course had a good breeze, 5 to 12 knots. However, the race committee was in a very strange hole of no wind. Katzfey thought the hole was the result of some rain cooling down the air and causing the warmer wind to jump over the top. The microlights reported plenty of wind at 100 meters, but there was very little on the surface. Alinghi suggested the PRO Harold Bennett move south for better breeze. According to Bilger, the BMW Oracle Racing weather team suggested a northward move. He stayed put and the racing was blown off, though neither move was a surefire way to get a race in.
• Finally, Bilger said that if you see the two teams split tacks off the line and separate, it's a good indication they've gotten differing forecasts from their respective teams. "Then it'll be very stressful," he said, with a thin smile.
So response to my America's Cup lyrics contest have been a little slow (scroll down to the bottom of this long page). But I'm happy to say we have a leader in the clubhouse for the BMW Oracle Racing duffel bag. My good friend George contributed the following, though he didn't quite follow the rules (he picked another song to modify, St. Stephen by the Grateful Dead, which I guess is appropriate since both the Dead and BMW Oracle Racing originated in San Francisco):
Saint Larry, with a boat
in and out of the harbor he goes
tryin' to sail in the wind and the waves
wherever he goes the Swiss all complain....
As he said, it kind of writes itself. I couldn't agree more.
"What," you say? "That's all I have to do?"
Correct, says I. And we're going to open the contest up a bit. Send my any tweaked lyrics (Zevon, Dead, Sinatra) with an America's Cup theme and I'll consider them for the prize. The contest ends when I feel like it does. Send your entries here. I'd show you a photo of the duffel bag, but I can't seem to find one. Apparently they don't sell them anymore. But it's a nice basic duffel bag. Heavy-duty zipper, shoulder strap, etc. If you were in college and lived in a dorm that didn't allow alcohol, you could probably smuggle a 30-pack inside, easy. Not that I'm suggesting anything of the sort, of course, just trying to give you an idea of the size.
February 10, 2010
We Don't Need no Stinkin' Engines
|Sure it's a cheap shot to feature a photo of the blazing-fast trimaran Groupama 3, which is attempting to set a new round-the-world record and is currently 272 miles ahead of Orange 2's record pace, and doing so without auxiliary power and in conditions far more extreme than those off Valencia today. However, maybe this America's Cup deserves a few cheap shots. For more on Groupama 3, check out Sailing World's exclusive podcast with navigator Stan Honey.
No Racing Until Friday
PRO Harold Bennett has blown off racing again, this time because of rough conditions. What exactly constitutes rough conditions is obviously the subject of same debate in Valencia. A BMW Oracle Racing source said they would've sailed today, no problem. That the wind later in the day was 13 to 16 knots, and the waves were 1.5 meters, but that they were "nice waves."
Here's Alinghi's view on the day:
Race 1 of the 33rd America's Cup Match has been postponed until Friday. Today's attempt to commence the best-of-three Deed of Gift Match between Defender Alinghi and Challenger BMW Oracle Racing was postponed due to rough sea conditions on the Mediterranean outside Valencia.
"The waves were the biggest problem. I think they were about 1.3m average size in the start area," said Alinghi strategist Murray Jones. "That means we could've had a peak of 1.8m and that's the biggest issue.
"There was a swell coming from one direction and waves from an offset of 90 degrees to that. We've been out in conditions not quite that bad, but it's heinous. I think they've done the right thing by not sending us out there," Jones said.
Jones explained that strong winds in the north of Spain near France were churning up the sea, which was confirmed over the phone by Will McCarthy, an Alinghi sailing team member, out spotting at noon: "It's very bumpy out here, confused, cold and we have seen 20knots this morning."
The next attempt to commence the match is scheduled for Friday at 10:06. The race schedule is for one day to intervene between each race day as agreed with the Challenger. Paragraph 6.5 of the Notice of Race states that: "If a race is cancelled, abandoned or postponed that race will be sailed on the next scheduled date and the subsequent races shall be postponed for the day accordingly."
Since tomorrow is a mandated lay day, Race 1 is now scheduled for Friday, Race 2 will happen, at the earliest, on Sunday.
Start Delayed and Delayed Again
No start before 1 p.m. local time, and optimism isn't running high for later in the day either. We'll be relaying messages from the event authority on our twitter account. Sign up here. It's currently just past 11:30 p.m., local time. As there must be three hours between the lowering of the AP and the first gun, and the cutoff time is 4:30 p.m., they have less than two hours to drop the AP or abandon for the day.
February 9, 2010
Late Start Tomorrow for Race 1
This just in from race HQ, a two-hour delay to start the day tomorrow: "The Warning Signal for Race 1 will not be made before 1154 hrs. A further assessment will be made prior to 0830 Wednesday morning."
Four Questions With John Kostecki
If Larry Ellison decides against joining the team tomorrow for Race 1, then tactician John Kostecki will be the only American native on the boat for the race. We grabbed him earlier today for a few questions about his choice to join BMW Oracle Racing-he resigned as the skipper of Ericsson's most recent Volvo effort to do so-his multihull immersion program, and how he sees the start shaking out. Remember that BMW Oracle Racing will enter from the starboard side in Race 1, while Alinghi will enter from the port side, where the entry mark is 250 meters downwind of the pin.
Stand By to
As predicted yesterday by BMW Oracle Racing meteorologist Chris Bedford, the weather did a hard right turn overnight and Valencia was blessed with mostly clear skis, a brisk breeze, and very dry air.
It was the sort of day that would've had most sailors reaching for an extra layer, but doing so with a smile. The conditions were perfect for some exciting sailing. However, the wind was too strong, especially with Race 1 of the America's Cup potentially looming less than 24 hours away, for the monster multihulls.
|BMW Oracle Racing team member Pete Melvin|
Alinghi pulled the plug fairly early, but the American team was keen to sail. All the crew was on the board and Larry Ellison came in from Rising Sun, which seemed to be a good sign that the monster trimaran would be leaving the mooring. But the breeze never quite abated enough-it was around 15 to 20 knots just outside the harbor and even more further offshore, 25 to 30 knots, according to skipper James Spithill.
But nonetheless it was a good opportunity to see the wing in person (again, it's really big) and also to talk to Pete Melvin, who's on the BMW Oracle Racing design team, and is a very genial and informed source of multihull knowledge.
Melvin cleared up a few things for me
• To put the twist into the sail, each hinge is set to an angle relative to the front element. For a progressive twist up the rig, each hinge would be set a little more outboard than the one below it. The individual sections of the rear element are made to flex and twist to create a seamless leech profile.
|BMW Oracle Racing bowman Brad Webb does some work on the bow of the trimaran while waiting for a day of practice that was eventually blown off due to too much wind.|
• The more camber you put into the sail, the more the slot between the two elements opens. This is important because this slot allows from from the high-pressure side (the windward side) to recharged the flow on the low-pressure side, which allows the sail to generate more power without stalling.
• The soft connective fabric between the elements is necessary because the more twist created in the sail, the longer the leech gets. The fabric is stretchy so it can make up the difference in length between a leech that's perfectly inline with the luff of the sail and one that has maximum twist.
• Melvin sailed on the boat a number of times with the soft sail and twice with the hard sail. Could he feel the difference? Without a doubt he said. It was the acceleration that he noticed most. With the softsail the boat took time to get up to speed. With the wing, it accelerated so quickly he had to hold on.
• Among the worst-case scenarios if the wing is caught up in a big breeze is that aft elements could flutter, similar to a sail luffing. Once that happens, who knows what would break.
• Cam Lewis, Melvin, and I had a sympathetic chuckle as we discussed how the crew on the boat, such as bowman Brad Webb and mastman Matthew Mason, crawl out on the windward ama in windy conditions. It looks like the furthest thing from safe that there is in the sport of sailing. I still don't know what they hold on to.
February 8, 2010
Wind Check With BMW Oracle Racing's Chris Bedford
Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW Oracle Racing
|Chris Bedford is BMW Oracle Racing's meteorologist.
Team meteorologists are a bit like sporting referees. They're at their best when they go unnoticed. However, there's an added wrinkle for the meteo folks. It's not only when they make a mistake that they get noticed, but also when the weather gets uncooperative.
So after a Race 1 of the 33rd America's Cup was abandoned (to be sailed on Wednesday), BMW Oracle Racing team meteorologist Chris Bedford (An American!) sat down with the media.
Bedford's among the very elite within his profession and he had some interesting things to say about the weather and also his role with this campaign.
Here are the highlights, click on the link for the audio
• What happened on the racecourse today (he throws the RC under a bus a bit to start off, but later acknowledges that there was no really good place to run a race day, at least around Valencia.)
AP Over A Means Wait Until Wednesday
Racing has been abandoned for the day by PRO Harold Bennett. According to the Deed of Gift rules that means Race 1 will, hopefully, take place on Wednesday.
Are We Bored Yet?
Delay continues in Valencia. It's now 1:20 p.m., local time. We've been under AP for nearly 3.5 hours. It's getting colder outside and it feels like there's more breeze on land. What that means 27 miles offshore is anyone's guess. Right now the two boats are both sailing at less than 3 knots according to Virtual Eye, which would indicate there's very little breeze around the starting line.
On the plus side, I just returned from a delicious lunch at BMW Oracle Racing's base. After 5 years, they've really gotten the hang of the hospitality side of this circus (actually, that's not fair. They had it nailed from Day 1.)
Word from the official AC33 twitter feed is there cannot be a warning signed after 4:30 p.m. That's still nearly 3 hours off. Wind on the course is 4.5 knots from 230 degrees at the top mark and 4.5 knots from 280 degrees at the signal boat.
The race committee has moved the starting line and-as we have no live feed from the start I'm using the Virtual Eye data-it appears that the wind is back down to nothing. Neither boat is currently moving at more than a crawl.
Approaching an Hour of AP
The live feed has cut off here, so it's hard to tell what's happening on the course. However, the Virtual Eye tracker shows Alinghi sailing around at 8 to 10 knots of boatspeed. This is up a bit from a half hour ago, so maybe the breeze is building a bit.
Cat In the Hat
According to the AC33 twitter feed, Harold Bennett has raised the AP flag. Our view of the racecourse shows both boats floating around in a very, very light breeze. We'll be updating Sailing World's twitter feed as the day continues. Follow that here. TV coverage is reporting decent breeze, around 7 knots, at the windward mark, but much less around the starting line. Andy Green, who's doing the on-the-water commentary for the host broadcast is convinced we'll get a race in quite soon, however, he's known to be an optimistic commentator.
No Larry Ellison, no Russell Coutts for BMW Oracle Racing: Brad Webb (NZL) Bowman; Simone de Mari (ITA) Pitman; Ross Halcrow (NZL) Jib Trimmer; Dirk de Ridder (NED) Wing Sail Trimmer; Joey Newton (AUS) Wing Sail Caddy; John Kostecki (USA) Tactician; James Spithill (AUS) Skipper/Helmsman; Matteo Plazzi (ITA) Navigator; Thierry Fouchier (FRA) Aft Pit; Matthew Mason (NZL) Mast.
So after all the screaming about how Ernesto Bertarelli locked Russell Coutts, the world's best sailor, out of the 32nd America's Cup. We get to the 33rd and he's not even on the boat.
14 sailors for Alinghi: Bowman: Piet van Nieuwenhuijzen (NED; Midbow: Curtis Blewett (CAN); Pitman: Rodney Ardern (NZL); Trimmer upwind: Simon Daubney (NZL); Trimmer downwind: Nils Frei (SUI); Mainsail trimmer: Warwick Fleury (NZL); Traveller: Pierre-Yves Jorand (SUI); Helmsman: Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI); Tactician: Brad Butterworth (NZL); Runner: Murray Jones (NZL); Navigator: Juan Vila (ESP); Floater: Jan Dekker (RSA/FRA); Floater: Loïck Peyron (FRA); Pre-start: Peter Evans (NZL)
I'm not sure what Peter Evans role will be in the pre-start, it's possible he could be driving. We'll have to wait and see.
Forecast is for a solid breeze-low double digits-through mid afternoon, after which it's supposed to go a little crazy as rain moves in.
February 7, 2010
Live Streaming of 33rd America's Cup on SailingWorld.com
We'll be carrying the BMW Oracle Racing web stream on our site tomorrow, the link is here. Plus, I'll be reporting from the media center, filing reports as it goes along. You can also follow our twitter updates here, both during the racing and after as we digest all the action. The first start is scheduled for 10:06 a.m. local time, 4:06 a.m. EST.
From a www.AmericasCup.com press release
Harold Bennett (NZL) Principal Race Officer:
His thoughts on the weather for Race 1 day:
"At the moment it looks like a very light offshore breeze early, which will fade away and begins to look like coming from the south. That was an earlier forecast and so we don't have a straight answer on that just now.
Does he have clear ideas in his mind about what the wind limits might be?
"We will take the day as it comes and work it our from there."
Is there any step change in technology they are using for race management since 32nd Americas' Cup:
"I think probably there is no much of an advance in terms of technology in what we are using, we use the same methods as before."
What does he think we will see at the start?
"At the start? I hope we see two boats get in, entered and get away from the start cleanly and have a race. That is what I am hoping to see. Whether they mix it up or not I don't know."
Alain Gautier (FRA), Alinghi, on the start:
"The priority boat will try to put a penalty on the other. And on these boats that can be very expensive.
"It is less important to break the start line on the gun than to start well launched with speed and without a penalty."
James Spithill, (AUS), BMW ORACLE Racing:
"It is all new to us. The boats have completely different characteristics and obviously we only have the one boat each and so we have not really been able to go out there and try as hard as we usually do. I think it will be interesting. I think they have tried to set up the start line so there will be no 'dial-up'. I think we will see the boats turn back quite early and really try to fight for the side. The first cross is so important in match racing, however I think this time you really want to be going the right way. To do any maneuver in a multihull is quite expensive. I am quite excited myself, because I just can't wait to see what happens. "
According to a press briefing from the organizers, it's possible the starting line will be 40 miles from shore. Ouch. Suffice to say, I'll be watching this one from shore where I'll have TV and internet and don't have to be up before the sun to get onboard a media boat. This distance underscores how unique (crazy and absurd also apply) these Deed of Gift matches are. One common theme about this event, from the organizers, the host broadcast, the race committee, and both teams is: There's no dress rehearsal, so we can't be 100 percent sure this is going to work.
One of the folks involved in the TV coverage told me that to bounce the tracking data from the boats and the TV coverage from the cameras back to shore they're using a small plane as a relay. It will fly a 4-mile circle around the boats. It should work fine, he added, but there could be a problem if the boats get more than 10 miles apart. That's entirely likely as there's a strong chance the teams will split tacks and beeline for opposite corners of a 20-mile square box, sort of like boxes at the end of a round. The distance from the right corner to the left corner of the course (assuming they sail at 45 degrees to the wind) will be around 28 miles.
LE and RC Onboard For Race 1?
|Larry Ellison at the helm of USA on a final practice before Race 1 of the 33rd America's Cup. But will he be on board tomorrow? Time will tell.|
Two days ago Larry Ellison said he wouldn't be onboard for Race 1. The issue, he said, is weight. The boat was measured with maximum crew and sails onboard, adding additional bodies would change, however slightly, the waterline length and hull draft, both of which are constrained by the customs house registry.
However, the trimaran was out of the water for the past two days and both Ellison and Coutts were onboard today for the final practice sail, Ellison even taking the wheel as the team sailed back toward the the harbor at 20 knots (over a glassy clam sea, no less).
I tried to get confirmation of the crew change, but BMW Oracle Racing's Tim Jeffery wouldn't confirm it. He didn't deny it, either. And he did say the tri is lighter now than it was when measured earlier in the week. My gut feeling is both Coutts and Ellison will be onboard tomorrow.
UPDATE: Tim Jeffery added the following via email, about a TV interview Ellison did recently: "What he said was that he is very enthusiastic to sail, not that he will definitely sail. Crew list in the morning. Total crew correlates to forecast."
What to Watch for in Race 1
In his second dispatch from Valencia, David Pedrick shares his perspective of the two behemoth multihulls and gives you his tips on what to watch for as the boats cross the line in Race 1.
Alinghi on Port, BMW Oracle Racing on Starboard for Race 1
|The starting line arrangement for the 33rd America's Cup. The starboard entry boat (BMW Oracle Racing in Race 1) must cross to windward of the RC boat at right, while the port entry boat must cross to windward of M4.
The challenger won the coin toss today at the opening ceremony for the 33rd America's Cup, which means USA will enter from the boat end with Alinghi coming in from the port side. If a traditional match-race starting line were employed, with the port boat crossing to windward of the pin, this would be a big advantage for the challenger. As no one has ever done a dial up with multihulls of this size, the port boat would have to take a cautious approach and could quickly find itself pushed toward the leeward end of the starting line. However, for this event, the entry points have been modified. While the starting line is to be set perpendicular to the breeze, the port-entry boat is only required to sail above a mark set directly downwind of the pin.
This should allow the Alinghi to cross in front of BMW Oracle Racing in Race 1, and proceed on port with BMW Oracle Racing in pursuit. The challenge for both teams will be when to turn back toward the line and whether they would like to lead or push (be the front boat of the pair, or the aft boat) as they return toward the starting line.
February 6, 2010
An Expert Assesment
Cup-winning designer David Pedrick is in Valencia to assist with Sailing World's coverage of the 33rd America's Cup. His offers his perspective on this historic match here.
'Round the Darsena
Walk around the America's Cup harbor and it can feel a little bit like a quiet evening in 2007. The bases all stand, and while the branding may be fading, cracking, and peeling off, from a distance you'd never know that all but two (those of Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing) are vacant. That number will go up in the next week or so as a number of teams, including All4One and Mascalzone Latino Audi Team, converge on Valencia to train for the Louis Vuitton Trophy in Auckland, New Zealand in March.
|The +39 Base is rebranded as the home of the GreenComm Challenge. Its potential role in the 34th America's Cup, is a subject of debate around Valencia.|
There's also the interesting redecorating of the former +39 Base, which looks very much like it will soon be the home of the Green Comm Challenge, which gained a brief (very brief) bit of fame as the Italian syndicate that Alinghi propped up as willing to sail BMW Oracle Racing in a multihull challenger selection series.
While it's dangerous to give too much credence to Darsena rumors, I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see GreenComm become the challenger of record for the 34th America's Cup should Alinghi win. Inside the front door is a hastily assembled backdrop that looks just perfect for holding an introductory press conference. We'll have more on this as things develop.
One final note, the Mascalzone Latino Audi Team will have a completely new and very international look to it. Former BMW Oracle Racing afterguard member Gavin Brady will take the helm, with Morgan Larson on tactics-which means Terry Hutchinson may need a new tactician on Team Artemis-Chris Larson as the team's coach, and former Melges 24 World Champ and for Mascalzone Latino Audi Team helmsman Flavio Flavini on the mainsheet. There is some hope that should BMW Oracle Racing win that MLAT head Vincenzo Onorato would take on the COR responsibilities should BMW Oracle Racing win. However, Onorato may well be too smart to bear that cross.
Quick Quotes from Three Press Conferences
I sat through a flurry of press conferences last night and this morning and afternoon. Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing went back-to-back last night and then Alinghi had a breakfast this morning for a few English-speaking journalists. Finally we had the owners press conference, which turned into an owner (singular) press conference as Larry Ellison declined the invitation.
Below I've linked the audio highlights from the first three sessions, which should give you a taste of how each team is viewing this competition without having to sit through more than 2 hours of press conferences. They do get a bit tiring.
But first a few general thoughts:
• The BMW Oracle Racing braintrust (owner Larry Ellison, CEO Russell Coutts, and skipper James Spithill) was about as relaxed as could be. Coutts had a bit of the kid-on-Christmas-morning look to him. Even though he might not be on the boat, he is genuinely excited at the prospect of these two beasts squaring off on Monday. He says much in this clip. Ellison, who won't be on the boat for Race 1, was also in good spirits.
• This easy-going attitude contrasted with Alinghi CEO Ernesto Bertarelli, who seemed as combative as he was excited. Even with the match at hand, he revisited the failed protocol with the Club Náutico Español de Vela and Désafio Español, talking about how strong the Spanish team proved to be in the 32nd America's Cup, how their record was better than that of BMW Oracle Racing. None of this is in dispute. The problem was the CNEV was a paper yacht club. He also made sure to get in a soundbite on the pending constructed-in-country suit, about which I'll mention more below.
• At the Alinghi breakfast, we spent quite a bit of time on the supposed wind limits. While there are no wind limits in the sailing instructions-that was shot down by the jury-don't expect to see racing in anything close to fresh winds. The race committee, which is led by Kiwi Harold Bennett, though no one's sure how much control he has as it is a Société Nautique de Genève race committee, is governed by the insurance for the event, which mandates that racing shouldn't be held when the wind is in excess of 15 knots at 60 meters. The key difference is that it's not a hard and fast rule in the sailing instructions, but rather a guideline. I would expect it's a guideline to which the RC will adhere fairly closely. The question we were unable to get answered was exactly how this limit was set. Did it come from the insurance company? The local maritime authority? Or was the insurance applied for with that limit laid out? The logic, according to Alinghi, goes back to the limits set for the ACC Version 5 boats. The big leadmines were fully powered up in 11 knots of wind, so the wind limit was set at twice that, plus a bit, 22 or 23 knots. The big multis are fully powered up in 7 knots of wind, so double that, plus a bit is 15. As with everything in this Cup, there's logic behind the madness. Both teams have become very adept at constructing legitimate reasoning for things that are obviously pushed for to increase their advantage over the other team. Expect to hear many people-the loudest of which will be BMW Oracle Racing-screaming foul should the race committee refuse to start, or blow off, a race because the windspeed is in the high teens. At the moment this might prove to be a moot point. The forecast for next week is mostly light, 10 knots or so on Monday and very light on Wednesday.
Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW Oracle Racing
|CEO Russell Coutts, owner Larry Ellison, and skipper James Spithill discuss BMW Oracle Racing's preparation for the 33rd America's Cup.
• When explaining why he won't be on the boat, Ellison cited the weight limit issue. Coutts later clarified this point. The boat was measured with maximum crew and equipment on board, which is essential for the all-important load water line. It's also important for the draft. The LWL can't be more than 90, the hull draft has to match the team's customs house registry for the boat. So the crew weight is limited and for the moment Ellison will be watching, rather than sailing.
• When asked why any kind of mutual consent has been so hard to find, Alinghi skipper Brad Butterworth said, "It's a cultural thing." He then added that he thinks an American general distrust of the European way of doing things played a central role in the legal dispute.
• OK, on to the quotes: Most match races a fairly short affairs. Tracking the competition is never a worry. However, with a 20-mile beat on Monday, and boats capable of 27 knots ore more upwind and into the 30s downwind, I was very curious how the teams would track each other, and how much that would factor into their decision making. A match race is as much about slowing the other guy down as it is making your boat go fast. Here's what James Spithill and Brad Butterworth had to say on the subject.
• The most gratuitous quotes of the day came from Bertarelli and Ellison. Bertarelli's I mentioned earlier, regarding Coutts' use of 3DL sails for New Zealand in 2000, Switzerland in 2003, and now USA in 2010, and how that runs in stark contrast to the CIC suit pending in the New York Courts. He conveniently left out the fact that in 2000 and 2003, mutual consent allowed all teams to use sails from any country. Of course, in the absence of any mutual consent on the issue, the CIC rule stands. Now where the line is drawn between what has to be and doesn't have to be built in the country of origin is another issue, and that's what Justice Kornreich will be ruling on later this month. Ellison got himself a round of applause when he announced that since Russell Coutts was specifically excluded from today's owners press conference, he wasn't going to show up himself. What a guy! Well, except that according to the event management, BMW Oracle was informed of the conference, which is being run by the city, and the team asked whether Russell Coutts could attend instead of Ellison. When told it was an owners press conference and Coutts was not allowed as a substitute-though he could bring come to the event, as each owner was permitted to being three teammates to the press conference-BMW Oracle Racing then backed out.
• Grant Simmer, Alinghi's design coordinator, on what the 33rd America's Cup means to him.
• Bertarelli on co-helmsman Loick Peyron (ed's note: Peyron has both circled the world alone and on a catamaran. But never alone on a catamaran.)
• Bertarelli's response when asked about Larry Ellison's claim that Ellison has never lost to Bertarelli in a race, and that Bertarelli is afraid of facing BMW Oracle Racing on the water.FYI, SUI-64 is the boat that won the 31st America's Cup in Auckland, New Zealand, and a confirmed rocketship.
• Brad Butterworth on how he sees the pre-start between these two monster multihulls.
|Skipper Brad Butterworth, CEO Ernesto Bertarelli, and design coordinator Grant Simmer during Alinghi's press conference on Friday.
• Simmer talks about BMW Oracle Racing's wing.
• Alinghi mainsail trimmer Warwick Fleury on the bearaway, which is the most dangerous maneuver in a multihull, and the 120-degree true wind angle reaches that will be a part of Race 2.
• Russell Coutts on the multihulls and the impending match and the chance of a gear failure. Of course, since it's just the audio you don't get to see the bar karate. Coutts is a blackbelt in that discipline.
• Coutts on the tactics of a match race between two very different boats.
• Butterworth on what they'll wear on the boat.
• Butterworth: "Defending, you're just a dart board!"
February 5, 2010
BMW Oracle to Stream Press Conference
Tonight's press conference at the BMW Oracle Racing base, which is scheduled to feature Larry Ellison, Russell Coutts, and James Spithill, will be streamed live on the team's website. The team will also be streaming a full slate of coverage on each race day. This link will take you to BMW Oracle Racing's live stream page for the PC.
"Every Step of the Way Was a New Adventure"
With BMW Oracle Racing's mighty wing down for a final maintenance check, the team took the chance to give a journalists a tour of this remarkable feat of engineering. I wrote a fairly extensive story on the wing and how it works for Sailing World magazine's January/February issue. In case you missed it, here's the link.
|Two of the names most often associated with the BMW Oracle Racing wing include Joseph Ozonne (top photo) and Mike Drummond (second photo down, at right, with Kate Lavin of the Telegraph and Paul Cayard of EuroSport.|
Mike Drummond, BMW Oracle Racing's design director, led our tour, and provided the headline for this entry. There's countless ways provide a sense of the size of this sail. It's longer, for example, than the wing span of the Airbus A340 on which I flew from Boston to Spain. All come up short, however, when compared to seeing it in person. IT. IS. HUGE. Compared to the wing, the trimaran seems puny. Scratch that. It is puny. And that's got to be an unnerving realization for anyone sailing on the tri. There's a ton (actually quite a bit more) of leverage in that sail and it's a fine line between that leverage pushing the boat forward and flipping the boat over.
• The wing was initially 190 feet tall, but it's now 68 meters, 223 feet, tall. That's more than twice as tall as the next biggest wing sail ever built, which was the hard sail used by Dennis Conner to win the 1998 America's Cup. It's also more than twice as long as the trimaran itself, which is 90 feet on the water line and 113 feet LOA (according to the customs house registry, BMW Oracle lists the LOA is 100 feet). The extra length-one additional flap, increasing the number of segments in the trailing portion of the wing to nine-was added once Alinghi pitched Ras al-Khaimah as the venue, and the initial forecasts from RAK were for very light wind.
• Removing the added length is possible, said Drummond, provided the wing is on the ground. "On paper we'd be faster [in heavy air] with out [the added section]," said Drummond. "But in practice I think the difference is less than on paper." He doesn't think they would do it.
• The weight of the wing and associated rigging is around 3.9 tons, which makes it heavier than the biggest soft-sail rig BMW Oracle Racing built (though that was shorter). But, according to Drummond, "acceptably so."
• When asked about the cost of the wing, Drummond paused, smiled, then said. "That's not really my department."
• According to team CEO Russell Coutts and Drummond, the team has sailed the boat in upwards of 25 knots true wind speed. Before we left for our tour Coutts was describing a situation where the team was testing downwind and the wind picked up to near 30 knots at the masthead, much more than was predicted. This is one dangerous scenario, because it's very difficult to unload the sail at that angle. On a normal boat, you'd dump the sail and round up. But doing so on a multihull means crossing through the "zone of death," which is roughly around a beam reach and slightly lower, to 115 or 120 true wind angle. Turning through this zone is very dangerous for a multihull, especially in fresh conditions. "Too tight in a multihull," said Drummond, referring to reaching conditions, "and the boat tends to trip over the bows."
• With the wing, the BMW Oracle Racing tri can sail appreciably closer to the wind, because the hard sail doesn't luff. However, the optimum VMG upwind angle for the hard sail is very similar to what it is for the soft sail.
• One interesting aspect that caught my eye is at right, the soft material that connects the flaps, it will limit how much the camber can vary between adjacent flaps.
• The most stressful part of sailing with the wing: taking it off or putting it on the boat. "I don't think I'll ever feel confident about this process," said Drummond. "It's the most stressful thing I've been involved in. We understand how to go sailing. However, when you've got this thing swinging from a crane and it wants to go flying like an autumn leaf "
• Drummond said the team was halfway finished building the wing before they finished their final performance predictions.
• In light air, the team will use a jib. While Drummond wouldn't divulge the crossover, he did acknowledge than in more breeze, the boat is fastest, going upwind at least, with just the wing flying.
• On a personal note, as I mentioned above, the wing is mighty impressive when you see it up close. It's highly refined and very slick. And it's monstrous. Have I said that before? Whatever happens on the water, BMW Oracle Racing deserves tremendous credit for exponentially expanding the boundaries of this technology.
February 4, 2010
¡Por Supuesto, en Valencia!
While in the Madrid airport this morning, I looked up from my computer to find a man sliding a promotional poster for the 33rd America's Cup into one of the lighted displays. Nothing like some advance notice for the sporting public.
|Better late than never. This display was updated with an America's Cup promotional banner on Thursday morning, 4 days before the first race.
The slogan for the 33rd Cup is "In Valencia, of course." As if there was never a chance it would be anywhere else. That's not quite how I remember it. But as they say, history is written by the victors. And as far as the venue goes, Valencia is a winner, though I'm sure the city would much rather have seen a traditional Cup and all it would entail. One busy week in the middle of winter can't do much for the tax revenues [though I hear the hotels are trying hard to make up for lost time.]
The issue of whether Alinghi's sails are constructed in Switzerland, or whether they're even required to be, will hang over this event. Should the defender hold on to the Cup on the water, BMW Oracle Racing will ask the New York State Court System whether the sails are legal. Lord knows what happens if the court rules in favor of BMW Oracle Racing. Will we have the first Cup victory voided by the court? Would they re-sail it? Give it to BMW Oracle Racing?
No matter whose side you take in this latest legal battle, one thing seems clear, neither team handled it well. Alinghi has changed its rationale regarding the legality of the sails multiple times. First it was, they're built in Switzerland, then it doesn't matter because sails aren't part of the yacht. At some point the team made a big deal of the fact 3DL was invited by Swiss citizens. Finally they dragged out some evidence maintaining that the sails for America were built in England. Which may be true, however, America sailed for the 100 Sovereign Cup (or 100 Guinea Cup, depending on who you ask) and did so 20 years before the Deed of Gift was written.
Oracle's position has been consistent: that the sails are built in Minden, Nev., at North's 3DL loft. The challenger maintains that while they may be built in large sections, which are presumably shipped to Switzerland and finished there, the fact that the panels are extremely large and custom built in Minden-as opposed to say off-the-shelf sailcloth being manufactured at a foreign factory-means they are constructed in the United States not Switzerland, or at best are a product of both countries. The prime reason the sails are built in sections is that there isn't a mold big enough to build sails for a 200-foot rig in one piece.
But this much was obvious about Alinghi's sails the day it first raised them on Lake Geneva back in July. The sails were obviously 3DL, and all the big custom 3DL racing sails come out of Nevada. If BMW Oracle Racing was truly concerned the sanctity of the constructed-in-country requirement in the Deed of Gift, this particular problem could've been brought before the New York State Supreme Court in a timely fashion.
However, like nearly every issue between the two teams, the legality of the sails was just one more bit of leverage and BMW Oracle Racing decided there was no reason to play that card until it was needed.
Whether they needed to is a good question. According to Brad Butterworth the famous Singapore conference in mid-January, which came tantalizingly close to an agreement that would move the regatta back a month and also clear up, via mutual consent, any outstanding issues, broke down once Tom Ehman announced BMW Oracle Racing was taking the sail issue to court. Of course, BMW Oracle Racing's version is different: That all parties present had come to an agreement on the second day, that BMW Oracle Racing signed the agreement, but Alinghi pulled out at the last minute after consulting with the home office.
I asked Butterworth whether he felt the negotiations would've ended with both teams signing a mutual consent agreement had BMW Oracle Racing not filed the CIC suit and he gave me a hedged yes answer. "I would like to think so," or something along those lines.
This may or may not be true. Maybe Ernesto Bertarelli would've pulled the rug out at the last minute regardless. However, the timing of the suit remains curious. One source said it was a time-sensitive situation, that to get it heard before Feb. 8 it had to be filed when it was. That obviously didn't work out, as the Justice Kornreich was quick to say there's no way to get this heard before Feb. 8, so go race and we'll sort it out later. Another said that discussions had broken down the previous evening and that's why the suit was filed. Though both sides seem to acknowledge that they came close to an agreement on the second day of negotiations. Whether they went to bed on the first night with an agreement in place is less certain.
It would be nice to say that what's done is done, and we're moving on. However, any legal action after the Cup-whether regarding the CIC or something else-will bring the Singapore meeting back to the fore. According to a press release from BMW Oracle Racing, the CIC hearing will be on Feb. 25. Of course, spokesman Tom Ehman added: "Since we have been unable to get them to sign the agreement negotiated in Singapore, the best way to resolve this issue is for our yacht USA to beat Alinghi 5 on the water."
That would likely be the quickest route to the 34th America's Cup, and I say likely because you just never know what the lawyers have cooked up.
Some Light at the End of the Tunnel?
While the economy is down and sailing sponsorship is struggling, it's great to see one company continuing, if not furthering, its involvement in the sport. Vincenzo Onorato's Mascalzone Latino team has signed a deal with Audi. While the 34th Cup is still very much a murky proposition, there's one team already focusing its sights on winning it.
Two of the best known names in the yachting world have chosen to join forces, creating the Mascalzone Latino Audi Team.
"I am very proud of the fact that Audi, a prestigious car company with such great tradition in sponsoring the sailing world, has chosen to link its name to Mascalzone Latino", commented Vincenzo Onorato. "I would like to thank the President of the Volkswagen Group, Dr. Tartaglione, the Director of Audi Italy, Dr. Frisch and the Director of Audi Marketing, Dr Migliorini for the trust they have put in us. We share the values of excellence and of fair competition as an incentive to constant improvement, as individuals, as a team and from a technology development point of view."
Vincenzo Onorato's team will be racing in several classes and on different race courses, focusing mainly on the Louis Vuitton Trophy, on the one-design Farr 40 and on the Melges 32 class.
The World Sailing Teams Association (WSTA) and Louis Vuitton have announced the next venues of the Louis Vuitton Trophy for 2010 and early 2011. The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series took place in Auckland in February of last year and the Louis Vuitton Trophy was held in Nice in November 2009. The format calls for two weeks of match racing (one on one duel) with America's Cup Class yachts provided by the organization.
Press Release: ESPN360.com Weighing Anchor with the 33rd America's Cup
For the first time in its programming history, ESPN360.com-ESPN's 24/7 broadband sports network-will carry the oldest sporting trophy event and sailing's most prestigious regatta and match race, the 33rd America's Cup. The best of three races duel will take place live from Valencia, Spain beginning Monday, Feb. 8th at 3:45 a.m. ET. Race 2 is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 10th and-if necessary-Race 3 on Friday, Feb. 12th, both at 3:45 a.m. ET.
Calling the event for ESPN360.com will be ESPN sailing commentator and president of US SAILING Gary Jobson along with renowned sailing expert Randy Smyth, both former winners of the America's Cup. After breaking into programming to carry Race 7 of the 25th America's Cup in 1983-won by Australia off the coast of Newport, R.I., to break the longest winning streak in sports-ESPN networks televised every America's Cup competition through 2003.
The 33rd America's Cup is the highly anticipated sequel to the drama-filled result of the 32nd America's Cup in 2007 that sparked a two-year courtroom battle between defending champions Alinghi -- racing team for Société Nautique de Genève -- against Golden Gate Yacht Club's racing team BMW Oracle. This year's duel under the one-on-one Deed of Gift will settle the dispute between defender and challenger.
Log on to ESPN360.com to access the 33rd America's Cup and more. ESPN360.com is ESPN's live sports broadband network, giving fans a 24/7 online destination that delivers more than 3,500 live, global sports events annually. It is available at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection from an affiliated service provider. ESPN360.com is currently available in more than 50 million homes - two-thirds of U.S. broadband homes. It is available via dozens of Internet Service Providers of all sizes nationwide, including Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Cox, Charter, Windstream, RCN, Insight, Frontier, Cavalier, Mediacom, Conway, Grande Communications and many more. It is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks.
February 3, 2010
Taking it One Sip At a Time
Trying to get your head around the 33rd America's Cup is a bit like using a pasta strainer to take a drink of water. You try to cover all the holes with your hands, you turn open the faucet all the way, frothing what looks like a full bowl of water, but by the time you get the vessel to your lips, there's isn't a lot left to quench your thirst. Spend any amount of time allowing the foam to settle and you're left licking drops off cold steel.
|Will they be any closer during the racing? Alinghi 5 and USA practicing off Valencia|
I've tried more than once to sit down, wade through the endless back and forth between Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing-the defender and challenger, respectively, in case you didn't know-and draft some sort of comprehensive piece on the stalemate. Each time I find myself trying to fuse two very different stories, two very different perspectives. The spin from each camp is so extreme; I often wonder whether the two sides were actually at the same meeting or looking at the same documents. So after pinballing fruitlessly between the two teams' PR folks trying to nail down the facts I find myself right back where I started; left with sound bites, press releases, reams of court decisions, but little clarity.
I'd hoped that before I hopped on an Iberian Air flight for Madrid later today, that I'd have enough time to put something online. But alas, it was not to be. I did post a very informative interview with Stéphane Kandler, the syndicate head of All4One Challenge, the latest iteration of Areva Challenge from the 2007 America's Cup. Kandler had a number of interesting things to say: He hasn't picked a side; his team survived over the past few years due partially to the windfall distributed by ACM after the 33rd America's Cup, and he thinks that the AC90 boat that Alinghi proposed for this Cup was actually a good design.
While I'm cruising at 500 knots over the Atlantic, I'm going to once again tackle the 33rd America's Cup, though I think I'll try to take on a few smaller issues rather than the whole mess. It's just too large, and to be honest, who really cares now. We're about to see two amazing boats square off. When they're through, hopefully the Cup will be headed to a better place.
In the meantime though I'll leave you with the one thing I am sure about: The de facto theme song for the 33rd America's Cup: Lawyers, Guns and Money by the late, great Warren Zevon. In fact, I thought I might be able to tweak Warren's lyrics to make it more applicable to the situation at hand. My attempt is below. If you think you might be able to do a better job [the original lyrics are here, to listen to a nice version of the song, click here, LG&M starts at 1:42, or here for the acoustic version, or here for the tribute version by the Wallflowers and Jordan Zevon-OK, I really like this song.] draft 'em up and send them in. The best alteration will take home a nice BMW Oracle Racing team duffel bag, and of course, all the trappings that come with having your work published on SailingWorld.com.
Lawyers, Boats, and Money
(with sincere apologies to the estate of Mr. Zevon)
Well, the Cup went to Alinghi
The way it did before
How were we to know
The Spanish challenge would be so poor
Larry was steamed in San Fran
So he took a little risk
Sent lawyers, Ehman, and money
Said, go screw with the Swiss, hah!
I'm an unemployed Cup sailor
In a spot that I hate
Thanks to the billionaires' egos
Working for a daily rate
Working for a daily rate
Working for a daily rate
So we're back to the Med
For a best two out of three
It's a tri verses the cat
But will it set the Cup free?
I'm an unemployed Cup sailor
In a spot that I hate
Thanks to the billionaires' egos
Working for a daily rate
Working for a daily rate
Working for a daily rate