Cayard Finds Chink in Italians' Armour

Five-time Cup veteran Paul Cayard analyzes Luna Rossa's tactics. "A Voice from Valencia" from our June 1, 2007, /AC eNewsletter/


Nico Martinez/desafio Espanol

Luna Rossa Challenge's victory over BMW Oracle Racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals has Valencia buzzing about the stylish Italian syndicate and its seemingly clairvoyant tactician, Torben Grael. On the eve of Luna Rossa's first finals match against Emirates Team New Zealand, SW senior editor Stuart Streuli caught up with Paul Cayard-queen bee of Cup buzz-for a veteran's analysis of the Italian team.If you were a Luna Rossa fan, would you be worried about Torben Grael's tendency to sail his own race, seeing as he's up against pure match racers like Terry Hutchinson and Brad Butterworth?Well Terry Hutchinson and Brad Butterworth will not let you split and will not let you off the hook. That's just how they're going to race. It would worry me no matter who I was going against. If I have a 70-meter lead and I have the favored side of the course and I have the faster boat, it would worry me no matter who I was racing if I split. Splits are great for the guy behind because they give him a chance. If I'm ahead of Terry Hutchinson and my boatspeed is good, I'm not going to split and give him a chance. There is one thing about splitting: If you stay close, you're likely to end up doing a lot more maneuvers. If the guy comes around the leeward mark and tacks and you tack with him, well he might just tack right back. And then you have to decide are you going to tack back or split? So you could end up in one of these 20-tack tacking duels on the beat. Now the boat ahead has more to lose in a tacking duel than the boat behind. If you have an equipment failure- tear the jib or hang-up the jibsheet, or whatever it is- you're going to lose from that. The strategy for the boat behind is to make something happen. Either split or bring the action to the boat ahead, and the boat ahead has to decide which is the less risky alternative. Often it's matching the other boat, especially when you're known for it. Because when you're known for it, as Brad Butterworth is, as the Kiwis are, the guy's going to tack five or six times then he's likely to roll over and play dead. He just knows you're never going to give up matching him. So there's a psychological part to cementing your image and persona as the dog that will never let the guy go. Right now Luna Rossa doesn't have that image. When you race Luna Rossa and you're behind, you're hopeful because you think well maybe Torben's going to go off on a big split and maybe we're not done here. Maybe we've got a chance. To listen to the complete Cayard interview as a podcast, click here.