12 Meter World Championship-Day 5-Final

Cannes

No wind today on the Bay of Cannes. We have been out here on the water since 0930 hoping for some wind, but nothing ever materialized just some rain.

So the 12 Meter World Championship is a non-event as you need to complete five races to have a series. The owners will get together tonight to see if there is a consensus to make the St. Tropez series next week count as the Worlds.

I am sorry we did not get to race more. It was very nice of Bill Koch to invite me here onboard Kiwi Magic. The fleet is very competitive and the racing extremely close. Unfortunately, I can not continue onto St. Tropez next week.

Paul

Correction – Bob’s Fisher’s recent book on the America’s Cup is called ‘An Absorbing Interest: The America’s Cup. A History 1851-2003’ and was published by Fernhurst Books
http://
wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-302847.html

12 Meter World Championship-Day 4

Cannes

Blown out today. 30 knots of Mistral kept the boats in the harbor all day.

Some of us from the Kiwi Magic team went to our friend Anna Gambiagi’s house in Valbonne for a great lunch with a little French wine. What a luxury to have a four hour lunch on a Friday.

During the afternoon, we had to “petanque” championship. The winner was “Buddha Bob” Billingham who had perfected the “shot put” technique to win over myself and Lexy Gahagen.

I used the high altitude, mega reverse spin technique which got me launched into the lead initially. However, one of my “ultra high altitude” balls went out of bounds and I had to take a Grappa penalty. From there my game kind of deteriorated.

Later in the evening, having sailed two America’s Cups in 12 Meters (Defender and USA), I was privileged to be part of a “round table” discussion on the 12 Meter Class with Marc Pajot (French Kiss), Cino Ricci (Azzurra), James Spithill(Kookaburra). Bob Fisher, esteemed journalist and author of the most comprehensive book on the America’s Cup, “an irresistible” served as moderator. We reminisced about the 12’s in Newport, no shore teams, no pay, etc….the good old days – and answered a few questions.

There is a movement to race on Sunday to get a few more races in, since we only have three races so far, when ten were scheduled. Tomorrow we will find out the result of this effort. I want to note that Roger Wright’s KZ3, who is leading the World Championship, is in favor of more races despite the obvious advantage to them to have fewer races. This is real sportsmanship on the part of the Brazilians!

We are hoping for good wind tomorrow!

12 Meter World Championship-Day 3

Cannes

Another difficult day today with the wind. There was a light westerly breeze from the Mistral to the west which eventually gave way to a moderate easterly breeze from the low pressure just to our south. Around 1230 we got our start. Eric Doyle our tactician wanted the right so we started at the committee boat and the wind in fact went right for the first half of the windward leg. We were looking quite strong there until the wind went 20 left. Then we tacked under Kookaburra II and the fleet trouped out to the right. We burned off KZ5 of Edgar Kato but KZ3 with the Grael brothers got a bit stronger on us. There was a fair amount of swapping sides amongst the fleet. Finally up near the top the wind filled from the right and Kookaburra II led us into the mark by a couple of lengths then KZ 3 and KZ5 followed.

Down the run we managed to gybe inside of Kookaburra II on the final gybe to the leeward mark and round first. We held on starboard out of the gate with Kookaburra while the others were forced to the right. We were slightly reaching, with a handy lead coming into the windward mark for the second time only to have the wind completely die. The boats came from behind with a 50 degree left shift so we were broad reaching into the windward mark. KZ 3 with the Grael Brothers got around first just inside of Kookaburra II then us on Kiwi Magic on the outside. But because the offset leg was now a tight reach on (port”!!!…) we had no wind and even KZ5 rolled us.

My demeanor was too goo right then. I was pretty impressed with the skill of the other teams to the point of ranting about “luck” or something like that. Anyway, Eric Doyle kept his cool and was saying “it’s a long race, lets hang in there.” All I could see was the first two boats tight reaching for the finish line. (Steam coming out of my ears at this point). Sure enough, the wind died where KZ3 and KZ5 were and Kookaburra II and us on Kiwi Magic did the end around.

So at the finish line it was Kookaburra II of Prada Racing team, with James Spithill on the wheel, followed by KZ7 of Bill Koch, then KZ3 Wright on White (Grael and Grael), then KZ5, Hissar, of Edgar Kato with Brad Reed on the helm and Morgan Reeser calling tactics. KA8 was fifth and French Kiss was MIA.

I forgot to mention that through all this, it was pouring down rain and lightening. They were not out shooting brochure photos for the Cote d?Azur today.

As we waited for the rest of the modern and classic fleets to finish, the lightening increased so the committee decided we had seen the best of it for the day and sent us in.

Tomorrow they will try for 3 races. I have not seen the forecast but it has to be better than today.

Out.

12 Meter World Championship-Day 2

Cannes

Too much wind today. With the Mistral blowing 40 knots just to the west of Cannes, a strong downpour of rain and a swirling wind blowing between 10 and 25 knots and shifting from Northwest to Northeast and back, the committee decided to keep the fleet at the dock today.

When you think about the time and effort that everyone put in to be here it is sad when you get a group of boats together and can’t race. I feel particularily bad for the owners. I guess that is why we have serries of races in our sport!

12 Meter World Championship-Day 1

Not a good day for us on the Kiwi Magic today. We had a 5th and a 4th and are currently 5th over all in the grand prix division out of 6 boats.

The wind was light again this morning and after a 1 hour postponement, the first race finally got underway in 7 knots. We wanted the right and started at the committee boat and protected the right up the first windward leg. The right was good but we had gone too far and over stood. Kookaburra II was first around the first mark and all boats were still close. Then down at the leeward gate we had a bit of trouble with the rounding and got forced to tack toward the left. Wright on White, the Brazilian boat, KZ3, owned by Roger Wright with Torben Grael as tactician and his brother Lars as helmsman, was second at that point and went out to the right, got a massive lift and won the race easily. At the same time, KZ 5, Hissar, owned by Edgar Kato of the New York Yacht Club, went very well on the left side of the course and got to the second windward mark second. Kookaburra, owned by Patrizio Berteli and skippered by James Spithill, had been in the lead but arrived 4th and we onboard Kiwi Magic, also racing for the New York Yacht Club, got to the top mark 5th. In the middle of it all in third was KA 8, South Australia owned by Lionel Pean and racing for France. In 6th all the way around was French Kiss with her original helmsman, Marc Pajot on the helm. The boats finished the first race in that order.

Before we could start the second race, the race committee had to relocate the starting line to the west in front of Mandelieu which took an hour or more. Finally the race got underway around 1530 in 10 knots of wind and the left was hugely favored. Torben Grael onboard Wright on White figured it out best and aggressively went after the left end of the starting line. Hissar was next up from W on W and then us. Meanwhile, Kookaburra II started on port and went right. We could not hold our height against Hissar and were forced to go right after a few minutes. The left was hugely favored and the Brazilians had a big lead at the first mark and never looked back. Hissar was comfortably in second, then KA8, South Australia, then us then Kookaburra, and finally French Kiss. At the leeward gate, South Australia had a big problem and dropped way back. We had a good battle with Kookaburra II up the second beat and eventually forced them off to the right and split left. Unfortunately, we got too much of a good thing and over stood the windward mark and that let Kookaburra II in ahead of us. Things got a bit squirrelly down the last run but not enough for us to pass. So the order of finish was Wright on White, Hissar, Kookaburra, Kiwi Magic, South Australia, French Kiss.

Tomorrow two races are planned and the wind should be a bit stronger.

For more results go to www.yachtclubdecannes.com

12 Meter Pre Worlds Championship-Update

Today the second day of the Pre Worlds regatta and two races were scheduled. The wind was a bit more promising at the start of the first race, but half way down the final run it died completely again. For the first part of the race, Kookaburra II, Kiwi Magic, and KZ3 were all very even and swapping positions. The racing was very close and exciting. At the finish line, Kookaburra II won with Kiwi Magic second. KZ3 withdrew when the wind died. There was no second race as the owners meeting was scheduled for 1600 and no races could be started after 1500.

Overall for the pre-worlds, Bill Koch’s team on Kiwi Magic won the regatta and the Centennial Cup which was a special race yesterday. These races were the Society Nautique de Geneve’s annual regatta. The funny thing is that, as far as I could see, there was no Swiss boat in the regatta.

The summary after these first few days is that the 4 grand prix boats, Kookaburra, KZ7, KZ5 and KZ3 are very even in 6 knots and under and it was more the shifts and positioning that made the difference. Tomorrow we should be joined by 2 more grand prix boats, French Kiss and South Australia. All these boats will built for the 1987 Cup in Fremantle. There are about 15 other 12’s racing with vintages from about 1945 to 1983.

Slowly as the week goes on, we should get a bit more wind. The 12 Meter World Championship starts tomorrow and continues through Saturday. Also tomorrow, the Regate Royale will start with all the beautiful classic boats.

I found some official results for this regatta is at: www.yachtclubdecannes.com

12 Meter Pre Worlds-Cannes

I have joined Bill Koch’s team here in Cannes for the 12 Meter World Championship next week. Yesterday was my first day on a 12 meter since 1987. Talk about a time warp. Of course the wind has been light here in Cannes so that makes the sensation of sailing a 12 meter even more distinctive.

Relative to the current class of America’s Cup yachts, the predecessor class weighs about 7 tons more, is 5 meters shorter, is wider, has 1 meter less draft and about half the sail area. Does that sound underpowered? Well in 4 knots if wind, it really feels like it.

There are about 20 12 meters here. Everything from 1945 vintage boats to the last ones built for Fremantle. Bill Koch owns Kiwi Magic and this boat along with the likes of Kookaburra, South Australia, KZ3 and KZ5, races in the grand prix division. Then the boats like Freedom, Courageous, etc. race in the modern division and then there are the classics. These boats have pretty lines and are majestic to look at. Most of the older wooden ones are in perfect shape and they are truly beautiful!

Today and tomorrow we are racing the “pre-worlds”, a tune up regatta. In fact today’s race was SNG’s “annual regatta”. SNG is the club from which Alinghi challenges for the America’s Cup and under the deed of gift, they must hold an annual regatta on the sea. Today’s race was called the Centennial Race and by chance we managed to win it. It was an extremely light air event, with the wind rarely getting over 5 knots. Also the course was a coastal course so we were essentially doing a lap of the bay. The wind died and the second to last buoy, so the committee spared us some pain by cutting off the last 3 miles of the race.

Tomorrow there will be two “windward-leeward” races and Tuesday the World Championship starts. Also starting on Tuesday and racing through Saturday will be the Regate Royal with about 70 vintage yachts of all sizes and designs. These boats are beautiful and lie somewhere between a piece of furniture and a historical item. The fleet moves onto St. Tropez the week after this for the grand finale of the season.

Among the current AC names racing; Torben Grael and his brother Lars are sailing KZ3 and James Spithill and the Prada team are sailing Kookaburra 2.

I’ll give you some more accurate information starting tomorrow.

Outlook cloudy

America’s Cup 32 is in the record books. Team New Zealand were there in the finals for the fourth time in a row! Heavy favourites Alinghi won with a convincing score but less convincing performance. Two in a row for the Swiss team.

Five New Zealanders have been on the winning team in the last four Cups. I haven’t seen two boats as evenly matched all the way through the wind range in any America’s Cup or Louis Vuitton Cup. Ever. Either boat was capable of winning any race. Now the defender wants to change the class. Back to 5-0?

The event was a great success, in my opinion. The 32nd America’s Cup was the highest-profile event our sport has ever seen. Starting with the physical layout and size of Port America’s Cup, through to the hospitality at the Foredeck Club, the stadium racecourse right in front of the beach, and the fact that it was in Europe and within two hours’ flying for 330 million people. Also, as there is a profit-sharing scheme (similar to other recent Cups), teams should do well financially due to ACM’s shrewd business acumen.

It was hard to know who to cheer for in the final. The Kiwi underdogs were charming in their basic, low-profile way. I usually root for the underdog but if the Cup had gone to New Zealand it would not be as commercially valuable as if Alinghi won and it stayed in Europe. If the Cup went to New Zealand there would be half the teams competing, because sponsors would not be able to justify the investment for an event so far from Europe. The market for sailors, designers and shore teams would shrink and salaries

would be cut in half. That is the brutal economic truth.

So what is the plan for America’s Cup 33? Two days after Alinghi defended the Cup they released the Protocol for the next America’s Cup and confirmed that Desafío Español would be the Challenger of Record. The Protocol is the agreement signed between the defender and the first challenger accepted. It is binding upon all who challenge for the Cup as a condition of entry. So what does the new Protocol for AC 33 say?

Actually, not much of a specific nature. Alinghi gave us a range of possible dates, 2009-2011, named ‘Europe’ as the venue, and probably a new class of boat that will be defined by the end of this year unless there is good reason why it can’t be.

They also stated that they will make and can modify the rules… at their discretion. They said that the new class will be announced no less than 18 months before the first race. They then added that only Alinghi designers would create the new rule and that all others would be excluded from the process. This begs the question: how long before the rule is released will Alinghi start working on their design? Probably months because the process of drawing up the new rule will include a lot of research into what characteristics are needed to achieve the performance characteristics they are looking for…

Model testing, VPP and race analysis would be normal ‘work’ in producing a new rule; the same work you do once you know the rule you’re designing to. So in creating the rule themselves, Alinghi have given themselves six to eight months’ headstart in a design cycle that will last less than one year if they race in 2009 – as they say will be the case if Valencia is the venue.

I really do hate to say it, but the general feeling one gets in reading the Protocol is that of a stacked deck in favour of the defender… very possibly more so than ever.

A few excerpts from the new Protocol:

Article 4 Challenging Competitors – Notice of Entry. No date is given for when challenges will be accepted. ACM will define the conditions of challenge. No date is given for when these documents

will be available. Even after one complies with all the conditions, ACM throw this one at you… 4.4 states that ACM may, at their sole and entire discretion, accept or reject any entry received.

10 Competitors’ Commission. A competitors’ commission will be formed. Each challenger will have the right to two representatives on the commission. The commission shall have no right to make application to the jury or arbitration panel, no right to vote, no power to amend any documents. Pretty gutless?

11 The Competition. There may be qualifying regattas, Acts, similar to last time… which may be used to select and even eliminate some competitors. These qualifying regattas will be mandatory for all challengers.

13 The Regatta. The schedule will be announced by 31 December 2007 or at such later date as may be reasonably required. In no case shall the regatta be held prior to 2009 nor later than 2011. At the time the schedule is announced the regatta format will be confirmed. Presumably it will include the Challenger Series (previously the Louis Vuitton Cup) and the America’s Cup match.

13.5… specifically allows the defender to race in the challenger series up until the final! How would that be? You could have Alinghi in there throwing races to teams depending on who they want to see advance. Then they bow out for the finals and step back in for the Cup? This is very creative! So not only are the

challengers not running their own elimination series, they don’t have any say in how it is done. Further the defender is racing in it! That is a bit of evolution from my first days in the Cup. I am not even sure that this concept is in line with the Deed of Gift.

16.3 No nationality rules. This begins: ‘In accordance with past practice in the America’s Cup…’ This is insulting. Why do they try to make it seem like this rule, their preferred rule for nationality… NONE, has been in existence for many editions of the Cup? It is only since Alinghi modified this rule in 2003 that it has existed.

17.1 Competition Regulations. This includes essential components such as how many boats each team will be allowed to build, how many sails, testing and training restrictions, reconnaissance rules, number of support boats, basically the rules of the game. Never mind that these stipulations are not issued at this time. Once they do get issued they may be amended ‘from time to time’ by ACM. Remember that ACM is appointed by the defending yacht club, and that ACM is a company that is controlled by Bertarelli.

35 Resort to court is prohibited. No entity can make application to a court but rather must rely on the arbitration process in the Protocol. But nothing shall prevent the defender from making any application it considers in its sole discretion appropriate regarding the administration of the Deed of Gift.

Get the flavour? Read this all through and then revisit one of the very first clauses in the new Protocol:

2.3: Fair Competition. A competitor shall compete in compliance with recognised principles of sportsmanship and fair play (sic).

You will not be surprised that there is a fair degree of consternation around Valencia right now. Are we honestly going forward?

(The 33rd Cup Protocol is at americascup.com)