Update from San Francisco

A tough day on the water for the race committee. With a very unstable wind today in Valencia, only the North course was able to race. Areva, Shosholoza, China and +39 are done with RR1, while BMW Oracle, Luna Rossa, Mascalzone Latino, Desafio Espanol, Team New Zealand and Victory Challenge still have two more races to do tomorrow.

While the big match ups at the top of the leader board are left for tomorrow, today’s racing on the North Course was very exciting. In the first flight of the day, China team did not race all day as they are making repairs to their hull following yesterdays damage so +39 picked up their first win in Round Robin 1 as they had no opponent. Areva beat Germany in a match that included two lead changes and some confusion from the umpires on a penalty call, but in the end the French played the shifts better and won easily. In the second flight +39 and Germany had a good tussle which saw the Italian team come through on the last run for one of their two wins this round. In the last match of the day, Areva with the lead but a penalty to execute, seemingly had enough distance to get the win but hit the pin end of the finish line and gave the victory to Shosholoza.

The bottom of the leader board for Round Robin 1 will finish as this:

8 FRA 93 Areva Challenge – 9

9 ITA 85 +39 Challenge – 6

10 GER 89 United Internet Team Germany – 3

11 CHN 95 China Team – 1

The flights are set in such a way that the teams meet their closest rivals on the leader board in the last two flights of a round. This made fore exciting racing today on the north course but of course will be even more important and exciting on tomorrow where the fight for the all important top four will take place.

Update from San Francisco

A big day on the water in Valencia. The breeze was 7-9 knots so still on the light side. What is apparent after the first 9 flights is that there are 7 teams that can win any race. This is great for the spectators.

In the first Flight of the day, Victory beat Areva which was important for the Swedes who are trying to stay in the hunt for the fourth spot in the semi finals along with Mascalzone Latino and Desafio Espanol. The Swedes were penalized early in the race and the French were not slow. But in the end the Swedes got a big enough lead to make the penalty turn on the finish line and win the match.

Mascalzone and Shosholoza had a tough battle but in the end Mascalzone had the edge. Shosholoza continues to show very good upwind speed. They start well and usually get the correct side of the course. They will upset a few more tams before Round Robin 2 finishes. The first America’s Cup Team from South Africa has a lot to be proud of.

In the second flight Luna Rossa beat Team New Zealand. On their entry, Dean Barker made a mistake and immediately the Kiwis were down a penalty. Then near the top of the first beat, Team New Zealand tacked a bit too far away from the Italians who were able to live to windward on port and round the first mark first. Only at the end of the final run were the Kiwis able to get in front of Luna Rossa but then it was too little too late. This Kiwi team seems very beatable and the Italians have been the ones to expose that. Desafio beat Victory challenge in that all important match amongst rivals for the fourth semi final spot.

In the Mascalzone Latino-BMW Oracle Match, we saw a very aggressive team from the USA putting a lot of pressure on the Italians and a tight tacking duel up the first windward leg. Near the top of the beat, BMW Oracle protested several times and on one occasion Mascalzone did tack too close and was given a penalty. This changed the face of the match and shortly thereafter BMW passed the Italians and stretched to a comfortable win. I think BMW was a bit faster than Mascalzone.

Tomorrow the challengers should be able to finish up Round Robin one with some very exciting matches. All the matches in flight 10 and 11 will be fairly even as the pairing list was constructed in a way to pit the closest adversaries in the last flights. Luna Rossa vs. Mascalzone Latino for the Pride of Italy race, and the last match of the day, BMW Oracle vs. Team New Zealand.

Update from Valencia

No wind again! Where are we? 2 for 8?

For sure we are in trouble. I am going home to SF. When the wind comes up, my friends at La7 are going to call me and I will come back. Actually, maybe I should go with a big suitcase and get some wind and bring it back from SF.

I think things are going to deteriorate between America’s Cup Management and the challengers pretty quickly. Another day or two lost and the challengers will be in quite a bit of trouble with their schedule. This is the first Cup where the challenger series is being run by an entity appointed by the defender. It used to be bad enough just having the Cup itself run by the defender. ACM’s unwillingness to accommodate and cooperate with the challengers is terrible. It is their series after all. The point of the Louis Vuitton Cup is to select the challenger who will face Alinghi in the finals. How can you have that series controlled by a sister company to Alinghi? If things were going well and fair then it may be acceptable, but they are not.

Anyway, I am out of here for a while. It is not my problem this time. I am going home to see my family and be a dad for a week or so.

Update from Valencia

Well we got one in today. Still very light wind and the forecast for tomorrow is a bit less than today…so marginal.

Today we had a NE gradient that was altered by the thermal heating on the land which pulled the wind right, closer to perpendicular to the coast line, and this made the wind speed drop. It was not a strong thermal because we are not getting the really high temperatures that we will see in June and July.

So we got one race in 8 knots, the right was favored on the first windward leg. In the first match of the day, Germany got the right side of the start and first leg against Luna Rossa and led for the first half of the first windward leg. Luna Rossa split off the line for 2 kilometers before heading right. That impressed me that they were willing to take such a large gamble against a team like Germany. Eventually Luna Rossa won fairly comfortably.

In the next match, Shosholoza led BMW Oracle for three quarters of the race. Shosholoza won the right side of the starting line and played the right to lead at the first mark comfortable. Down the run the boats seemed equal in speed. At the bottom of the first run, Shosholoza had some indecision on board as to which mark to round there are two no adays, they use a gate and they shrimped the kite (Dropped the spinnaker in the water) and had to cut it loose. Still they held the lead most of the way up the second windward leg and finally BMW Oracle over took them. Once they did, BMW Oracle quickly put 300 meter on Shosholoza. It was interesting to see how much having the correct side of the race course was worth to the slower boat.

Next we saw Victory beat the Chinese but again only after letting the Chinese lead for a while by winning the right.

Next we Team New Zealand taking command over +39 easily. Just a much faster boat for the Kiwis.

Finally, Desafio Espanol had a great start over Areva of France and led at the first windward mark by 80 meters. On the first gybe the Spanish broke the spinnaker pole and shortly thereafter the French boat passed them. The bad news was that the Spanish had no spare pole and no real repair kit so while the recovered a lot of distance on the second windward leg to round the second top mark just three boat lengths behind, they lost 300 meters on the final run having to sail without the pole again. A real shame for Desafio.

Mascalzone had a bye in that flight.

Tomorrow, the big match in the first flight is Desafio vs. Mascalzone. This could be a very important match for determining who goes to the semi finals. With Mascalzone getting a leg up by beating one of the big three last Friday (TNZ), and with Desafio suffering a loss to Areva, this is almost a must win race for Desafio.

In the second flight if we get that far, BMW Oracle will take on Luna Rossa who are both undefeated in this round and share the top of the leader board.

Forecast for the tomorrow is a bit less wind than today and for Tuesday is less wind than that. In fact, the forecast for the rest of the week is not that great.

On Tuesday, I am going back to San Francisco for a week or so to be with may family. I will come back to Valencia toward the end of Round Robin 2 to see the determinant matches to decide which seven of 11 will be going home and which four will be going onto the semi finals.

Update from Valencia

Just when it looked like it was going to come good, Valencia disappointed everyone again today. 1 day out of 6. Not very good statistics so far.

Some journalists are starting to make a bit of a stir about the weather here. Most feel America’s Cup Management (ACM), the entity that Alinghi appointed in charge of the event, has scheduled the racing too early in the season. The statistics show more reliable conditions starting in May. Too late now.

Tomorrow looks a bit more promising. It should be a gradient flow over the top of a low passing to the south of Valencia with 9 to 12 knots is forecast from the Northeast.

No much more to say today. The buzz around Mascalzone Latino was still strong today. Everyone feels that this team is a contender for the long run.

Lets hope for tomorrow.

Update – Finally! Wind in Valencia

Two races on both race courses today. 7-10 knots from 100 degrees.

The big story of the day was Mascalzone Latino beating Team New Zealand in the first match of the day. It was a great race by the Italians who won the start, took the favored right side and led around every mark to win by 15 seconds. The beautiful thing about this win is that it wasn’t a fluke. No lucky shifts just a solid game plan and good execution. Mascalzone’s weather team picked the correct side, the helmsman got the side they wanted, the right side, the boat is fast and the crew executed perfectly. That is solid and they can count on that for the next few months.

In the second flight Mascalzone beat Areva of France to finish the day on two wins along with Luna Rosa and BMW Oracle. BMW Oracle has two rather easy races beating the Chinese and the Germans while Luna Rossa beat China and the Swedes.

Team New Zealand only raced in the first flight and had a bye in the second. The Spanish did not race in the first flight and won their only race of the day against +39, the third Italian team. Each team has a bye in each round robin as there are 11 teams therefore 5 matches in each flight.

The top of the leader board is Luna Rosa and BMW Oracle each with 7 points, Mascalzone is third with 6, Desafio is forth with 5, and Team New Zealand tied for 5th with Victory Challenge with 4 points.

Of course our job on Italian TV was made easier with the good results of the Italian Teams. The news of Mascalzone’s win of TNZ was huge in Italy. All the TV channels covered the story on their nightly news programs. La7, who I am working for, is the only one who has the rights to show the racing live.

For me, it was a great day. Lot’s of action, plenty of tactical situations to comment on, and I am feeling very comfortable in Italian. So far I have to say I am enjoying this new challenge.

Tomorrow’s forecast is not stellar. In fact, there isn’t much wind on the horizon for the next week. So it looks like we will be in some margin race conditions for a while.

Tomorrow morning there is a meeting of the challengers to decide how to proceed with the missed races and the one day of rest scheduled between Round Robin 1 and 2.

At least we have got this thing started.

Tough End To A Tough Road

Round-the-world race winner and multiple America’s Cup skipper Paul Cayard has been immersed in the Cup since his first event in 1983 in Newport, RI, when he sailed alongside fellow San Francisco native Tom Blackaller on the 12-Metre Defender

The 32nd America’s Cup will be the mostcompetitive in the event’s 155-year history. For 2007 the boats are closer in speed, the Valencian racecourse is not as steadyas originally thought, the teams are all at ahigh level having had years of training.

As always, there are teams who stackup better on paper than others. Prior to the event all we can go on are statistics of what has happened so far and try to project. Once we’re into the racing and get to know the perfor-mance of the boats things will become a bit clearer…

Complete Seahourse Article – Adobe Acrobat required

Update from Valencia

These days are getting very redundant. Valencia: 0 for 4. What are the odds of this? I asked the great meteorologist Roger “Clouds” Badham this morning, “less than 1 in a million” was his reply.

For sure this is a record that will stand for a very long time. I have been sailing for 40 years this year. The only time I can think of that I was at a regatta and did not race for four days in a row may be at the 1978 Star North Americans in Toronto. We took up lawn bowling on that occasion!

There may be one good reason that there hasn’t been any wind for four days. You may remember that +39 broke its only new mast during the fleet racing two weeks ago. They were hit by the Germans and it was the Germans’ fault. The Germans offered to give +39 one of their spare version 5 masts…the latest. The jury was willing to make the necessary changes to make it happen but the challenger group voted it down. So +39 put in an old Alinghi mast and has been “ready to race” with that mast since the beginning of Round Robin 1. Meanwhile their shore team has been working night and day to repair the broken mast. The mast will be put in the boat tonight and +39 will sail at 0800 tomorrow to tune the repaired rig. Being an Italian team, maybe someone above is taking care of the justice!

The agitation amongst the teams and sponsors is growing. The television teams are going crazy trying to figure out how to handle their audiences.

For me at La7, today was my busiest day. At 0830 I met with Roger Badham and we filmed and 5 minute piece on why there has been no wind here for four days. Roger explained that there has been virtually no gradient (system driven winds) wind around Valencia in this period. In this case, we need to rely on a thermal wind, also known as a sea breeze. A sea breeze is a circulation of air; cooler air onto warmer land, which heats up and rises to a few thousand feet and then heads out over the cooler water, where it cools and descends back down to the surface and then is sucked back over the warm land. The problem hasn’t been the heat and temperature differential. The problem has been that the little bit of gradient aloft is in the opposite direction to that of the recirculation warm air aloft, going out over the water to be cooled. This has blocked the circulation and the “pump has not been able to get primed”.

Next I went to +39 to see their mast repair and do a piece on the role of the Pit Man onboard one of these boats. With all the halyards and foreguy, topping lift, etc. in that area one realizes pretty quickly that an octopus would be the best animal for that job.

Then we went live at 1400 for 10 minutes and maintained a vigil in the studio waiting for the start of the race. It looked more promising than other days as the boats were sailing, heeled upwind, gennakers downwind. Yet the committee did not feel the wind was stable enough to give start.

So at 1730, La7, my TV station, ran a 30 minute special. First, we showed the piece with clouds filmed earlier this morning. Then we did a piece on Luna Rossa who played soccer this morning. Then I did a “stand up” live, on the importance of righting moment to a sail boat. The subject of righting moment has come into focus since the unveiling on April 1.

There is speculation over here that Alinghi has found a away to increase their righting moment by moving the keel while racing. Photos of the Alinghi keel show a “buldge” in the top 30cm of the fin section nearest the hull. Some are speculating that the “buldge” is the housing of some sort of trick mechanism to control the keel laterally. As the rules strictly prohibit this, I think it is more likely that if anything at all, they may have found a way to reduce the amount of deflection of the keel fin while under load, upwind. It may even be that the attachment of the keel is done in a trick way so as to make use of the loads on the keel or mast. Any reduction of leeward deflection of the keel would translate into greater righting moment. Some teams seem very distracted by this and others less. It is also possible that the keel fin is simply thicker there which would reduce deflection. Of course there is a cost to having a thicker fin, that being drag. But the designers make calculations on the tradeoff of the gain of having the bulb held closer to centerline versus the added drag of the thicker section. It is even possible that there is nothing to it and that Alinghi is just enjoying the disruption that this is causing some of the challengers. It would not surprise me if that was the case.

So as is typical of the America’s Cup, the pot is being stirred. Never a dull moment even while we are setting records for numbers of days without sailing a single race!

Paul Cayard and a challenge with Desafio

Paul Cayard is a sailing legend. The winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup with Il Moro di Venezia in 1992, he won the Whitbread Round the World race 1997/1998 and has been involved with several successful sailing teams in a number of regattas. Prior to the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup he spent two months as a technical and sporting advisor for Desafío Español 2007.

What was you main role in Desafío Español 2007?

I mostly gave them ideas on what the priorities should be at this late stage in the competition. In the America’s Cup you make a plan two years before, and you also start a lot of projects. Research into special masts, special keels, rudders… Many projects are put in motion. And you get to the end and obviously these plans aren’t all finished. One mistake is to continue spending money, time and energy chasing something that isn’t going to give any fruit. With experience you know which ones to cut to save energy, time and money, and use it somewhere else, where you will see the results. That is really the important game in the end.

Besides the budget, what are the main differences between a winning team and a losing team?

The difference is when to make a decision. If a team has been chasing after something for a year and a half and still nothing has come from it then it must be forgotten. Whether it is a decision about the boat, the crew or whatever, there is often a tendency to keep discussing and worrying about something, wasting energy when you just have to make a decision. One of my philosophies is that if two things are so similar that it makes it hard to decide then you should just pick one, because it doesn’t matter. It is important not to waste any more time on it because there is probably something else that will make much more difference, where you really need the time. If you get it wrong in that case you can lose a lot, but if two things are going to have a similar outcome, it’s not worth wasting any more time on it, since in the end it will be the same anyway.

The Cup has got to a stage where all the teams are multicultural, what are the challenges they are facing?

One big challenge for the Desafío is not only the language but the culture, and I know it well because I worked with Il Moro di Venezia as an American. When you have multicultural teams I think everybody has to come to a common denominator that is not the language. So what is it? The professionalism, respect and solidarity: the fact that everyday at 8.00 we are all in the gym fighting together. When we lose the race, we lose together, and when we win the race we win together. It goes beyond the language and the culture. You have to go beyond that to find what it is that is keeping us together. And I hope that by just talking about it we made everybody think about it. But for sure that is going to be a challenge for Desafio. Every team will lose a race here with somebody that they thought they should beat. But the question is, when they lose that race, are they going to lose their solidarity as well? Or are they going to stay tight and come out for the next race again with 110% on the table?

What was a typical day like with Desafío?

8.00 Gym, 9.00 shower, 9.15 breakfast, 9.45 interviews, 10.15 head of departments meeting, crew meeting, then performance meeting. 12.30 out on the water. 5 or 6 dock, take sails off the boat, fold genoas in the loft. Short meeting for department heads to make a plan, performance analysis of the day. 8.00pm home.

Paco Tormo/AB