America’s Cup 35

America’s Cup Village photo by Ricardo Pinto

Bermuda

No races were held today in Bermuda as the wind was too light or non existent.  A Big high pressure system has come and squatted on us.

Today’s schedule is moved to tomorrow with a slightly better forecast of southwesterly wind at 4 knots building to 8 knots and building to 12 knots tomorrow night.  Let’s hope in comes in a bit earlier!

Friday looks like 8-12 knots and Saturday about the same.  At the end of next week, June 7-9, there could be too much wind for racing.  The beauty of mother nature.

Just a bit about the America’s Cup Village.  This America’s Cup has the most “Village” atmosphere of any Cup so far. There are bars, restaurants, shops for event clothing and all of the teams, VIP hospitality, Team

photo by Ricardo Pinto

Opening Ceremony May 27, 2017-Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget

hospitality, a public park, mega screens to watch the action, the broadcast booth, the Youth sailing area, interactive kiosks for grinding and sailing a wing sail, a stage for concerts and presentations, the media center and press conference theater.

 

Paul

 

America’s Cup 35

Artemis has had a tough 24 hours.

Bermuda

Three races were held today on Great Sound in 12- 14 knots of wind. It was a day to get more racing in as the forecast for the next few days is very light.  However the schedule was set in stone and so no changes were made.  Four races are on the schedule for tomorrow.

It looked to me that most team had their light air boards on, certainly Artemis and BAR did. Artemis had to race in the first and last races of the day and could not afford to get caught in the last race of the day with the small boards as the forecast had the wind dropping. Its possible ETNZ had smaller boards on in the race against Artemis as the Kiwi’s had just the one race to deal with today.

The first race of Round 2, Race 16, was a rematch of the last race of round 1.  Artemis was up against ETNZ and certainly looking for some redemption after they were wronged by an umpire call yesterday. Nathan Outteridge schooled Peter Berling at the start and Artemis held a comfortable lead all the way around the first lap. Up the second windward leg, ETNZ began making in roads on the Swedish lead.  It looked to me like mostly speed.  The wind did turn right all day so often the boat on the right in the splits would make gains.  Near the top of the second windward leg, the Swedish lead was all but gone. The Kiwi’s were coming on starboard and laying the port side of the windward gate.  Artemis was not crossing and should have gone behind but maybe that was too bitter of a pill to swallow after having a 200 meter lead just 3 minutes earlier. Instead the Swedes tried to cross and fouled the Kiwi’s who still managed to get around the windward mark after bearing away to avoid a collision. Penalty to the Swedes, game over.

Artemis vs. ETNZ II.  ETNZ gets a little loose coming into bottom gate.

Race 17: France vs. Oracle. No story here really.  Spithill schooled Gammas on the start and Oracle went on to win by a big margin.  One technique thing was interesting: Oracle was coming to the reward mark and a bit “thin”.  They put the windward board down to add lift to the package so the boat would not drop into the water as they “soaked” don to the mark.  Essentially, they crawled in on all fours.

Race 18: This was a huge race.  Artemis vs. BAR.  Either Artemis was going to suffer yet another loss or BAR were going to extend their losing streak to 5 in a row. Artemis got too close to the line too early and Ainslie was able to create gauge off the Swedes which allowed him to pull the trigger earlier and have more speed at the start.  BAR rolled around the Swedes and led the whole way. The race never got close.  The teams seemed pretty even in speed, both on light air boards I think.  Artemis has a hard 90 degree radius in their board where BAR is a softer radius. The harder the run, the more draggy I believe but also makes the span and the righting moment greater which are both pluses.  Interesting tradeoffs.  So far, technique and sailing skill has outweighed all these small design details.

Now is a good time to tell you about the format of this America’s Cup.  For the first time ever, the Defender is doing some racing with the Challengers, and it counts.  The Defender, Oracle Team USA is racing these first two round robins with the Challengers.  The team with the most points at the end of Round 2, will take one point with them into the America’s Cup, unless it is a challenger who doesn’t qualify for the Match.  A bit confusing but we will cross that bridge later if we need to.  The last place challenger will be eliminated and the defender will exit the racing and move to the finals starting June 17. Privilege of winning last time.

The remaining four challengers will race the semi finals of the Louis Vuitton Challengers series. The highest ranking challenger from the round robins will pick his opponent. The other two will race. Both series will be won by the first team to win 5 points. The winners of the semi finals will race the Finals of the Louis Vuitton, again a first to win 5 points series.  The winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup will race Oracle in the America’s Cup Finals, starting June 17, which will be a first to win 7 points.

The forecast is for tomorrow is northerly 4 to 8 knots, becoming variable 2 to 5 knots in the afternoon, then settling southwesterly 4 to 8 knots overnight… Not great.

Oracle moved to 6 wins, ETNZ is on 5, BAR on 4, Artemis, Japan, and the French all on 2 wins.

Tomorrows dance card:

Time Port Stbd
 1408 JPN FRA
 1437 GBR NZL
 1506 USA JPN
 1535 FRA GBR
Times are Bermudian.  EDT + 1.

Paul

 

America’s Cup 35

Artemis with pace!

Bermuda

The final three races of round robin 1 were held today on Great Sound.  The conditions were a bit windier than the first two days and the surprises kept coming.

Race 13 featured Groupama Team France against BAR of the UK.  Ben Ainsley schooled Frank Camas on the starting line almost forcing the French onto port tack with just seconds to go.  The French trailed the Brits at the first mark by 10 seconds or so.  Undeterred, the French kept their focus up the first windward leg and made some large gains on BAR. The race was close down the first run with the teams changing the lead twice.  Nearing the second windward mark, the French once again were a problem for Ainslee.  As the Brits approached on port tack near the port gate mark, the French were on starboard,  It looked as though the Brits could cross the French and go the the starboard gate mark which would have made the two fairly even heading down the final run.  Instead, the Brits chose to tack inside the French and round the port and mark.  This made them easy pickens for Camas as he rolled around the outside of the Brits at 30 knots and shot off never to be seen again.  Upset #2!  Maybe these aren’t upsets?  The French actually looked quick and are still have room to improve their maneuvers which is an opportunity for them over the coming week.

France coming on strong!

Race 14: This was the big Challenger showdown.  Artemis of Sweden vs. Emirates Team New Zealand. This was one of the best races ever in the Louis Vuitton Cup.  Nathan (SWE) schooled Pete at the start but pulled the trigger just a bit too soon and got penalized for being over the start line early.  So Kiwis lead down the first run and SWE set up the split at the bottom gate. Up the first windward leg, Artemis got in phase and sailed well passing ETNZ.  Down the run, ETNZ got to the east on the course where there is more pressure (wind) and passed Artemis back! Up the final windward leg, ETNZ does a poor job of matching the speed of Artemis as they duck on port.  So the next time they come back together, Artemis is on Starboard and ETNZ has to duck.  ETNZ did a nice job of slowing by luffing rather than reaching off behind Artemis.  This allowed ETNZ to make the right hand gate mark while Artemis made the left. With both teams virtually even, they headed off on the final run at 40+ knots.  Two thirds of the way down the final run, ETNZ on port tack was not crossing Artemis on starboard, so they turned up and went behind.  This set the Kiwis up for starboard tack and inside at the final mark.

Artemis once again looked very polished tactically to me in that they set themselves up to sail wide around the last mark knowing they may have to give ETNZ room but that if they arrived even or slightly behind they would easily roll around the outside of the Kiwis and win the race.  The Kiwis arrived, inside and a bit behind the Swedes.  They Kiwis gybed to head to the finish and the Swedes sailed right around the outside with twice the speed.  Game over.  Race to the Swedes.  Then, the umpires decided that the Swedes had fouled the Kiwi’s in the maneuver.  This was shocking.  The Swedes had to slow and let the Kiwis pass to work off the penalty.  In the end, the race went to the Kiwis.  Needless to say, all the spectators were surprised.  The call from the umpires was that this was a port/starboard infraction.  However, the Kiwi’s had entered the “zone” around the mark so another rule governed at that point.  I think all will agree that that call was a mistake…hopefully not a costly one for Artemis. penalties aside, this was the best race of the event so far!

ETNZ doing a wheely after trying to round inside at final mark vs. Artemis.

Race 15  FRA vs. JPN. Dean (Softbank Team Japan) took the conservative windward position at the start and had just a bit better timing and rolled the French on the first reach.  That was about it as Softbank Team Japan never looked back. Their speed and technique was impeccable and they went on to win by a large margin.

So after round robin 1, Oracle Team USA is leading with 5 points, ETNZ with 4, BAR with 3, Artemis, Softbank, and Groupama with 2. BAR only won one of the 5 races but because they won the AC World Series, they carried 2 bonus point into this round and that is saving them right now. At the end of the next round, 15 more races, 5 per team, the last place challenger goes home.

I am feeling more and more every day that this is going to be the best America’s Cup ever.  The boats are exciting.  The races are exciting.  Never have we had this many led changes! The races are short-20 minutes. There are lots of them every day! The energy in the village is great…. lots of different venues within. The Bermudians are so happy and friendly.  The Superyachts are in town!  What a show.

Tomorrow we start Round 2 and the pairings go in reverse order.  First up, Artemis vs ETNZ. You think Artemis will be coming out with a knife in their teeth?

Paul

America’s Cup 35

Oracle Team USA and Softbank Nippon duel at start of race 12.

Bermuda

Six fantastic races were held today on Great Sound, Bermuda, in 12 dropping to 8 knots from the southwest. What is of interest in a condition like this is to see who has the light air boards on and who has the all purpose boards on.

I have been here two days, and may be wrong, but by my eye Artemis had the light air boards on and Oracle had their smaller heavy air boards today.  What this means is that if the wind drops and you get caught with the smaller boards on you have trouble keeping the boat up on foils.  The speed difference between foiling and non foiling is about 6 knots.  So it doesn’t take much time out of a tack, with the hulls in the water, to lose a lead.  The reason to have the smaller boards is that they create less drag when the boat is at high speed in stronger winds.  Not only are the surface areas different between the boards but the sectional shape is different as well…thinner for the high speed foils.

One more subtlety; some teams use a smaller board on the port side of the boat than on the starboard side.  This is because the first leg of the course is a high speed reach and you want a smaller, thinner board for that.  So when the wind gets light, the first place boats struggle is tacking onto starboard tack up wind.

Again, I may be wrong.

In the first race of the day, race 7 of the round, everyone was expecting a non event but the French raised up and claimed their first scalp off Artemis. The French won the start but got rolled in the first gybe; still not steady or consistent in the maneuvers. However, the wind was shifty and up the first windward leg, Artemis got out of phase and the French climbed back and took the lead.  They we just able to hang on and win by one boat length.  Huge for the French!

Groupama France lead Artemis Sweden

Race 8 pitted Oracle vs. BAR. Br won the start handily and was ahead at the bottom gate.  oracle split and got some good shifts.  Passed BAR and stretched from there.  Game over.

Race 9-ETNZ vs. Nippon. Dean Barker on Nippon chased Peter Berling down to the pauline and left him there to have a slow start.  Nippon leads at first mark and up the first windward leg.  Down the first run ETNZ showed more wind on the east side of the course and made a big gain.  Nippon able to hold on but ETNZ goes to the east side out of the bottom and makes big gain on Nippon.  When Nippon switches sides to go the the east, the wind shifted to the west and put ETNZ ahead. Game over.

For races 10-12, my friend Joey and I got on the “Race Chase” boat and followed the competitors on the race course.  This is a very cool program offered by the event to give fans a very close look at the action on the water.

Race 10-Oracle USA vs. Artemis SWE. Wind down to 8 knots. Artemis on big boards, Oracle Team USA on small boards. Bad start by Spithill; locked out to windward. On second windward leg, Oracle had trouble foiling.  Artemis sails well and fast. Race over, Artemis wins.

Race 11-BAR (GBR) vs. ETNZ. Kiwis get a penalty in the prestart for a port starboard on the entry.  They have to get one boat length clear astern of BAR after start.  They do. After leading at the first mark, BAR wait too long to gybe for leeward gate. Kiwis gybe simultaneously and make the left gate mark. Kiwis stretch take lead and stretch.  Game over.

Race 12- Oracle vs. Nippon. Wind builds back up to 9.  Saves Oracle on the small boards. Good start by Oracle and they sail very well.  All tacks very smooth.  Stretch all the time-large margin of victory.

Tomorrow the last 3 matches of round robin one are scheduled; Artemis vs. Kiwis to be one of them. Oracle is done for this round finishing with a 4 – 1 record to win the round.  The forecast is for more of the same conditions so it will be interesting to see who changes to larger boards.

Lessons from the day; it seems better to error on big boards, and it is very shifty out there so the races are never over.

After two days, I think this will be a great America’s Cup.  Why:  Fast boats are cool if the racing is competitive and it is, lots of lead changes, short races, excellent venue to race these boats, the best AC Village ever (will describe another day), great television production, Bermudians are great hosts. I am really lucky to be here and looking forward to the entire month.

Paul

Look familiar? 4 years later, different venue.

America’s Cup 35

BAR and Softbank duel before the start

Bermuda

The 35th America’s Cup got underway today with 6 matches.  The conditions were ideal with southwest winds of 11-13 knots and flats seas.  The race course is inside Great Sound and the America’s Cup village and bases are at Dockyard, the most western extremity of the island.

I will be down here for the entire America’s Cup which runs from today through June 27th.  I have two roles; for the first two weeks I am an onboard expert ( a nice way of saying a “has been”) for the yacht Rosehearty and her guests.  From June 9, I will join the ACTV team for the daily broadcasts.  Also, I will try to write something every day for you.

The racing today was better than I expected.  Four of the 6 matches were very closely contested and 5 of the 6 teams seemed fairly even with only the French off the pace. The boats are very fast, 35-40 knots today and it is impressive to watch them live.  Two of the matches ere spectacular; Match 2, Japan vs. Sweden and Match 5; New Zealand vs. Oracle Team USA. In Match 2, Japan (Softbank) got out to a strong start and built a lead of 20+ second only to be reeled in and passed by the Swedes (Artemis), on the second windward leg.  There were 30 degree wind shifts on the course and Artemis played them well.  Japan tried to tack on Artemis half way up the second windward leg but the Swedes simply powered through them and forced the Japanese to tack away.  That was pretty much the end of it as Artemis got to the right and had starboard tack advantage at the next cross. Artemis went on to win fairly comfortably.

In the rematch of the finals of the 34th Americas Cup in San Francisco,  Oracle led at the first mark only to be passed by the Kiwi’s who got a left shift upon the first windward leg.  The Kiwis held the lead down the first run but the American’s got the split at the bottom gate and stayed out of phase  with the Kiwi’s but in phase with the wind up the second windward leg. At the windward mark, the Kiwis tried to tack onto starboard in front of Oracle but they were a bit late and the American’s shot through to gain room at the mark and luffing rights.  Oracle luffed the Kiwis rather aggressively but no contact occurred.  The American’s shot out in front and went on the win the race by 6 seconds.

Oracle Team USA at their dock and Super Yachts in the AC Village Harbor.

In both of these races it seemed the boat ahead, half way through the race, had an unsurmountable lead.  I am excited to think that we may see these types of lead changes for the entire regatta!

In the final race of the day, Team BAR (GBR) was up against Softbank (JPN).  A substantial collision occurred 20 seconds prior to the start.  BAR’s port hull ended up on top of JPN’s starboard hull.  Fortunately no one was injured although many of the JPN crew had to move out of the way.  The port hull of GBR got quite a bit of damage from the brining handles on JPN which punctured holes in the hull of the British boat.  The British were deemed to have fouled and were further penalized but the umpires.

In the two days that I have been here, I have toured one team base, talked to a few of the sailors on various teams and met with the chief umpire to understand how they make the calls.  I have reviewed tape of these teams practice racing.  I have only scratched the surface of this event.  But I feel like this is going to be very interesting and very competitive. I believe a big part of winning this event will be evolving, improving, learning technique, etc.  No team is going fast enough today to beat the eventual winner.  So the team whose shore team and technical team can make the biggest gains coupled with the sailing team who learns how to mast what they have and use it in a consistent manner, will most likely be the winner.

There is so much to master.  Flying these boats in a consistent way, so that the hulls never hit the water, is very tough.  You can have more conservative boards and pay for stability and control with top speed, or you can live on the edge of control and hit higher speeds but maybe dip the hulls in the water more frequently when tacking or gybing.  Then you have the crew who are grinding, or pedaling as the case may be, for the entire race to produce hydraulic pressure. The hydraulic pressure is used to control all the wing and dagger board functions, which are critical to the performance of the boats. These sailors have become world class athletes, at the same level as a triathlete or soccer (football) player.

I need to explain the schedule, the format, the village, the pairings and so much more but I wont try to do it all tonight.

The forecast for tomorrow is for less wind…12-8 knots and dropping to as little as 6 by late afternoon.  Then light winds on Monday. For information, scores and more, go to https://www.americascup.com

 

Paul