America’s Cup-Race 6

Another tough day for the Kiwi’s and the race slipped out of their hands on the second windward leg. Alinghi now has 3 match point points.

Today’s conditions were quite different to yesterday, flat seas and 8-10 knots of wind. Both boats were even coming off the line with Alinghi to windward. It took TNZ 3/4’s of the distance to the port layline to shake Alinghi off. From there, the left was good and TNZ rounded the windward mark with a 14 second lead.

The defended well on the run… again both boats looking dead even. The Kiwis went for the easier maneuver at the gate and that left them with the left which had worked well up until that point. The Swiss took the right gate and went right. New Zealand went with Alinghi to the right and gained initially but 3/4’s of the way out to the layline, a rightie came in and the Swiss made a nice gain. A few tacks ensued with the Kiwis protecting the left which was the open side of the course. On the last cross, the Kiwis went for a leebow but the Swiss had more pressure from the right and were able to gauge off and live to windward of TNZ. They held a 12 second lead at the second windward mark and despite a valiant effort by the Kiwis on the last run, the Swiss held on to get their 4 victory…

I have never seen two boats so even in performance, upwind and downwind and right through the wind range. This is amazing since they have quite different hull shapes. This is the closest America’s Cup in my lifetime and it is a pleasure to watch.

The Kiwis may be down but they are certainly not out. America’s Cup Management is preparing the awards presentation for tomorrow night (they have to be ready) and I am sure the Kiwis would love nothing more than to make the Swiss postpone their plans.

America’s Cup-Race 5

The Kiwis lost it. Alinghi ahead 3-2

Dean Barker dominated the start today putting Ed Baird in a difficult position immediately in the prestart and converted his advantage into a 1 boat length lead off the line. The two boats were virtually even as the raced side by side out to the right side of the course. It was a matter of meters as to weather Alinghi would be able to tack with enough advantage to avoid a Kiwi lee bow. In the end the could not, and rather than force the issue, Alinghi tactician Brad Butterworth waited patiently for Team New Zealand to tack and then TNZ followed thus avoiding the expensive double tack. This kept thing close at the first windward mark, 14 seconds. On the hoisting manoeuvre, a more difficult one as the yachts came in over the layline and had to tack an hoist, TNZ got a small hole in their gennaker. The sail was flying fine as the team prepared to change to a back up gennaker. Then suddenly, just before they changed, the existing sail exploded. The team scrambled to get the new sail hoisted but did so before the sheets were attached. An error that would cost a lot. By the time the Kiwis got things sorted out, Alinghi had a 165 meter lead. A dramatic change of events.

That was pretty much it for the race. Alinghi actually chose the unfavored gate and this Allowed TNZ to get within 70 meters coming out of the gate. Up the second windward leg the boats were fairly even and same down the final run.

What was important about today was that contrary to all expert opinion, including my own, Alinghi did not seem to have a speed edge in the 15 knots of wind and fairly developed seaway. These two boats are probably closer in performance and either teams own sparing boat.

So while the Kiwis will be disappointed about losing a race that was well in hand, they should take some solace in the fact that they have the speed and ability to win any race. That is a far cry from the predictions before the series started.

Tomorrow will be important for TNZ. Going down 4-2 would be a tough spot to be in. It would require winning 3 races straight against a very tough competitor. A intimidating challenge.

Father & Daughter Duo at America’s Cup Gala

On 21 June 07, Paul and his daughter Allie Cayard joined in the celebrations at the 32nd America’s Cup Ball in Valencia. The stylish pair, dressed by Ermenegildo Zegna and Vera Wang, dazzled guests at Valencia’s most important event on the social calendar.

America’s Cup-Race 4

All square at 2-2. Is that the first time in 32 America’s Cup’s? I think it is. Someone will correct me if I am wrong.

We saw a determined Alinghi out on the course today. Brad Butterworth returned to his top level tactical brilliance and with the narrowest of leads off the starting line, the Swiss managed the race perfectly. Always in front, but always challenged by Team New Zealand. The largest margin was 110 meters and there were no particular events during the day. Just a slow and steady construction of victory in what was almost a “must win” race for Alinghi.

2-2 is a world apart from 3-1. Now it is a best of 5 series. The first to win three. Short and sweet.

Tomorrow is a lay day. For Alinghi, getting the series square makes the day off, a welcome rest. They have gotten through a rough beginning to the series but probably still feel slightly superior to the Kiwis over all.

The Kiwis lost today but have to feel very good about their performance in the first four races. All experts gave the Kiwis little hope of winning a single race before the series started and here they are at 2-2. The speed of the boats is very even and the Kiwis are certainly in a position to win and take the Cup back home with them.

The good thing for all of us is that this is a series! Plenty more good spectating coming up!

After the finish, there was a request by the measurement committee for both boats to drop their mainsails without sending a man aloft. Normally a halyard is attached to the sail at the end of each day’s racing to lower the mainsail. But there is a class rule that requires each yacht capable of dropping its mainsail from the deck by way of a “trip” mechanism for safety reasons. Team New Zealand complied immediately while Alinghi actually had to send a man up the mast in order to drop the sail. This seemed absurd to all of us here. How obviously in contravention of the request of the officials. I think this one will get discussed long into the night.

What could come of this? Disqualification of Alinghi for non-compliance? I doubt it. Re-race the race? Maybe. That is what happened with Mascalzone and Desafio earlier in the Louis Vuitton Cup. A fine? Maybe. How much would be an appropriate fine? Standby. We may not be done with Race 4.

No race tomorrow, so I will be back on Friday with a report on Race 5.

Have your say – comment on the Cayard Sailing Message Board

America’s Cup-Race 3

What a great race! We had two lead changes and in the end, the Kiwis who built a seemingly unassailable lead on the first leg to windward, were rewarded with the victory and now lead the series 2-1. Are we set for a long series or is the momentum changing and the Kiwis getting on a roll?

Last night a big front passed through the area creating mountainous waves on the race course this morning. The wind was rather light at 1500 today, at 10 knots but mostly very unstable. The race committee had to wait for 2 hours and 59 minutes (the last minute available under the rules) to get the race started. It was anything but straight forward but the Kiwi meteorological team led by Roger Badham figured it out. The call was for the right and Dean Barker got it at the start and Terry Hutchinson leveraged it. Alinghi must have had exactly the opposite call from its met team as they held a 50 meter lead off the line yet continued to split with Team New Zealand to a distance of over 800 meters before taking. After 10 minutes of sailing, the wind went abruptly right, the Kiwis tacked and had a 100 meter lead at the first cross. That lead grew to 370 by the first windward mark as the right kept paying and Hutchinson did not let go of it.

The race was anything but over on the first run and Alinghi made gains on each gybe cutting the lead to 250 meters as New Zealand approached the leeward gate. Then New Zealand found themselves in a very difficult position and had to make a very difficult manouver which they had trouble with. The gennaker got caught up in the genoa sheet block and they could not trim properly. Alinghi patiently and persistently dogged the Kiwis. The Kiwis tacked first to free their gennaker and the first cross there was only 80 meters in it. Huge comeback for Alinghi and race totally open.

The two boats exchanged tacks with the Kiwis, always protecting the right. Some great tactics at the second top mark allowed Alinghi to cross ahead of TNZ and round the second windward mark in the lead. The Kiwis then did a masterful job on the run, or Alinghi made a mistake. Alinghi chose to continue on the longer board at the first cross on the run to the finish and this gave the Kiwis room to get to the west of Alinghi. The wind rotated slightly to the east as it often does this late in the day.1845..and the Kiwis brought home the race with a handy 25 second margin.

The race was sailed in 9 knots dropping to 6 at the finish. The seaway was over 1.5 meters so incredibly difficult conditions for the helmsmen an trimmers. Impossible to tell anything about boat speed today. It was all the shifts and puffs.

Wild day, great race!

Now the question is how is Alinghi dealing with these defeats? How are they dealing with the huge reversal of momentum.expectations. The Swiss were clear favorites in this Final. Now they are behind. 2-1 is not terrible but the risk is that it could be 3-1 tomorrow night with a lay day to brew on Thursday. That does not sound like a pretty picture so I think tomorrow is almost a must win for Alinghi.

Stand by!

PRESS RELEASE – RC44 / Lugano Yacht Club Cup

Cayard, Coutts, Onorato, Gram-Hansen and more celebrate the RC44 Class debut in Switzerland

The idyllic setting of Lugano provided a spectacular backdrop for the first ever RC44 event in Switzerland. The Lugano Yacht Club Cup, the fourth event in the Class Championship Tour, presented challenging racing for RC44 owners and their crews today.

Lugano (CH), 20 June 2007 – The thermal mountain breeze began to build shortly after 14:00 and the teams enjoyed three fiercely competitive fleet races. Spectators lined the shore of Lake Lugano to watch the impressive, high performance RC44s manoeuvre, tackling and accelerating in the shifty conditions with ease.

Having arrived just days before from Lisbon in their custom containers, these light displacement boats proved their adaptability as they mastered the challenging lake conditions.

Team Omega, with guest helmsman Ronnie Pieper, VP of the Swiss Sailing Federation and a 5.5m World Champion, smoothly dominated the first of the three fleet races. Team Omega, with Russell Coutts calling tactics, swiftly passed Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino, on the first windward leg and led the fleet around the course. Team Aqua, with owner Chris Bake driving and tactician Cameron Appleton, quickly moved into second place, leaving Mascalzone Latino to finish third.

As the afternoon went on and the breeze became shiftier, the RC44’s showed their true versatility and ability to accelerate in light conditions.

In the second race it was Teams Aqua and Light Bay that selected the favoured right side of the course from the start. While Mascalzone Latino and Team Omega, with their world-renowned tacticians Cayard and Coutts onboard went left, the other RC44 owners proved that the traditionally favoured right side of the lake would pay off. Team Aqua, the current leaders of the fleet, finished first, followed by Team Light Bay and Team Omega.

Mascalzone Latino’s America’s Cup helmsman Jes Gram-Hansen took the opportunity to step on board with Onorato’s team as a guest for the third race. It was a close start with the entire fleet on starboard, they then tacked swiftly back towards the right side of the lake, with the exception of Omega who remained in the middle of the course. This was to pay off for Coutts’s team as the wind dropped and the Race Committee shortened the course. A win for Mascalzone Latino was the perfect end to owner Vincenzo Onorato’s first day of racing onboard his RC44.

Unfortunately, the much anticipated match race between Russell Coutts and Paul Cayard could not take place due to the lack of wind. The forecast for tomorrow is for 8-10 knots with mixed weather conditions.

Quotes

Vincenzo Onorato, Mascalzone Latino: “It was a beautiful first day of racing on the RC44. We were fortunate to have Paul Cayard onboard. The boats are extremely fast; they are much more fun to sail than the America’s Cup boats, which are dinosaurs in comparison! The RC44s are ten years ahead of their time.”

Paul Cayard, Mascalzone Latino: “The boats power-up easily which makes for good racing, even when there is not much wind. In the America’s Cup they wouldn’t even race in these conditions, but with the RC44 it’s all possible.”

Armando Giulietti, Team Light Bay: “It was my first time racing the RC44 on a lake and in these light air conditions. We learned a lot and had good manoeuvres. It is a fast boat. Lugano is beautiful and ideal for the spectators.”

Cameron Appleton, Team Aqua: “It was challenging to get the light air configuration right. The first two races were one-sided, but the conditions mixed up for the third race. It was an impressive day on the water.”

Lugano Yacht Club Cup

Day 1 Provisional Results – no discard

1) Team Aqua, (2,1,3) 6 points

2) Team Omega, (1,3,2) 6 points

3) Mascalzone Latino (3,4,1) 8 points

4) Team Light Bay (Magia), (4, 2, 4) 10 points

Photo: Mascalzone Latino racing in Lugano, with Vincenzo Onorato at the helm and Paul Cayard calling tactics Credit: Gianni Armiraglio

America’s Cup-Race 2

It is all on! That is the good news for everyone who is interested in the Cup. What a difference a day can make. 9-10 knots of wind and a much smooth sea seemed to be better for the flat bottomed Kiwi boat.

New Zealand is not about to lie down. Yesterday at this time, everyone was speculating on a 5-0 sweep by Alinghi. Did this get into the heads of the Swiss?

The first part of today’s race was disappointing for the Kiwis. After another great start by Dean Barker and a handy 20 meter lead, the Kiwis watched hopelessly as the lead evaporated and they were forced to tack away. Alinghi looked all set to go up 2-0 with a nice lead at the first mark. Then it looked to me that Alinghi chose the unfavored part of the gate and lost 35 meters in 1 minute. This opened up the race once again and New Zealand tactician Terry Hutchinson played his cards masterfully on the second windward leg and took a narrow lead at the second windward mark. A lead that they would not relinquish by carefully positioning their boat between Alinghi and the finish line. Differently than yesterday, Alinghi did not look so strong downwind, in fact, Team New Zealand gained on the final run to the finish.

So this series is very much alive. Wil this loss cause some reconsiderations within Alinghi? For sure being the defender and being such heavy favorites is not helping with the momentum starts to go in the opposite direction. This will test the experience of the Swiss.

Today was the first time in 17 America’s Cup finals races that Brad Butterworth and his teammates, who have been together since 1995, have lost a race. A streak of all time. What does the future hold? Tuesday will be interesting. That much is for sure.

America’s Cup-Race 1

No surprise in the result. Alinghi 1, New Zealand 0

However, I think there was a bit of a surprise for everyone in the way the Swiss achieved this victory and the strengths demonstrated.

The conditions were 13 knots of wind, with a moderate to large sea. Alinghi was a bit faster upwind, but not by much. By contrast, they were very fast downwind.

This is very telling to me. It means that SUI 100 is more all around than most people thought. Less dominant upwind, less dominant in strong wind but not as weak in light wind. So rather than a crossover…a condition in which we could find Team New Zealand being faster, we may see the Swiss boat just a touch faster in all conditions. This is still a guess, but it is my impression.

The Kiwis made no mistakes. In fact, they had a slightly better start, they had the right side of the course which I would have picked, and for the first five minutes the Kiwis gained. Slowly the Swiss came back, party due to their speed and partly due to a slight left shift. At the first cross, 15 minutes after the start, and off to the right side of the course, Alinghi held a 20 meter advantage that they used to push the Kiwis toward the layline. It seemed that Alinghi gained slightly on each of the eight tacks that ensued.

Near the top of the first windward leg, Alinghi actually made a slight mistake in not tacking right on top of TNZ and allowed them to save the two extra tacks that a trailing boat is usually obliged to make. This made the first run a bit closer than it would have otherwise been.

It was on the runs, the downwind legs, that Alinghi impressed me the most. The Swiss gained 7 seconds on the first run and 21 seconds on the final run to the finish. This is the part of today that really surprised me and is most telling.

Neither team made any mistakes in their crew work or sail selection. These are pros at the top of their game. One thing that needs to be said is that Alinghi created a fair amount of in-house competition to get their crew work to a very high level, without having 30+ official races as Team New Zealand did.

Tomorrow for Race 2, we should have a seabreeze, possibly a bit lighter and with less seaway than today. Let’s see if this changes the relative performance of the boats.

Update from Valencia

I just finished a 12 day tour of Italy with my daughter Allie. Allie was born in Milan in 1990 while we lived there for the Il Moro di Venezia America’s Cup Challenge. She has always wanted me to take her to Italy and this was the right time. We started out in San Giminiano where we stayed just outside the walled city on a farm house owned by a friend of mine named Gabriele Rafanelli. We visited the city with its 22 towers and medieval torture chambers. Then it was onto Florence, where we visited the Uffizi, Palazzo Pitti, the secret passageway between the two that the Medici family used, the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum, and Ponte Vecchio of course. Allie met Leonardo Ferragamo

Louis Vuitton Finals-Race 5

Team New Zealand Wins! In two weeks, it will be a re-match of the America’s Cup 2003.

Luna Rossa put up a new mainsail and made a change to the appendage package last night. Their boat was faster, but not fast enough. They were beaten by a better boat, and a better team. The Italians fought hard and all the way to the end.

Now, New Zealand will come up against its nemesis of 2003, Alinghi!

It should be a great final. Both teams have a large contingent of Kiwis. This small country has produced a huge amount of sailing talent which has found its way to the heart of many America’s Cup teams.

A beautiful prizegiving immediately followed today’s racing, in the America’s Cup harbor here in Valencia. A few beers and bottles of Moet Chandon will be consumed by all tonight.

Now I am going on a vacation in Italy for two weeks. I will resume my updates on June 23 with the first race for the America’s Cup.