In baseball, it’s 3 strikes and you’re out!

It is official….this is a record for the number of days at the beginning of the Louis Vuitton Cup without a race.

The bad news is that tomorrow is still the same synoptic situation. Friday things start to change a bit and there is a bit of movement.

The story is this – synoptically, there is very little gradient wind here this week. No fronts, no lows, no isobars, no nothing. There is a very slight Northeast flow over the top of a mild low pressure that is over Algeria, south of Valencia.

So, we are dependent on thermal heating to create a sea breeze. On a clear day, the sun heats the land, it also heats the air above the land. This air rises and circulates back out over the cooler water. This cooler air then sinks where it then flows back over the shore creating wind. The bigger the temperature differential between the cooler water and the warmer land, the stronger the sea breeze.

The problem here is 1) it is spring time and the temperature differential is not that great, as the land is only getting to 22C these days and 2) the little bit of gradient there is, is coming from the Northeast and the upper air circulation of the sea breeze here in Valencia, needs to flow to the East. So we have the two breezes fighting at 5,000 feet and therefore, no circulation.

Maybe it is time to put a call into the Vatican Yacht Club.

O for 2. No wind again. Very frustrating for the TV rights holders…those who invested a great deal to broadcast the races live in their home countries. Of course it is frustrating for the spectators too. Imagine the people who have planned trips to Valencia, paid money for the hotel and rides on boats to go out and watch. It is tough on everyone, but there is nothing to do but be patient.

It will come good, but what a shame to start off this way. I can’t remember a Louis Vuitton Cup that started with no sailing on the first two days. I think it is a record and it will be hard to beat in the future. Let’s hope we don’t extend the record.

Unfortunate start to the 32nd America’s Cup season…no racing today. This is a very unfortunate reality of our sport. If there is no wind, there is no race. With anticipation built up over four years for the first AC from Europe, the fact that there was no race today was a let down for the sailors and spectators alike.

I have taken on a new challenge for this America’s Cup; that of commentating the races for TV. It is a challenge to bring such a technical sport to the public, trying to keep it simple yet exciting. Just to make things a little extra challenging, I am doing it in Italian.

I am working with a great team of people; 80 in total, for La7 which is the Italian rights holder for this Cup. Paolo Cecinelli is the pro and Luca Bontempelli, a journalist, and I are the “color”. I think that is the term for it. We have a nice young girl named Chiara, who runs the Virtual Eye (AC Managements version of Virtual Spectator) for us on the set. Of course we have our colleagues on each race course and around the harbor who bring us stories and round out the picture of what is going on with the whole event. So it is a big operation and all new to me.

Hopefully we will get under way tomorrow. The forecast isn’t great though and we are already stressing out over what we will do if there is no wind tomorrow. There is only so much you can rehash from the past or stories to tell. We need the goods! Hopefully Tuesday Valencia will deliver!

To mark the start of the 32nd America’s Cup, Italy’s Corriere della Sera launched its new magazine ‘Style – Yachting’. The ‘official Italian guide’ to the America’s Cup profiles all of the teams and features Paul Cayard ‘L’arma in piu’ – the secret weapon of Desafio Espanol.

View the entire article (Adobe Acrobat format – Acrobate Required)

I have just returned to San Francisco after finishing my second and last session with Desafio Espanol 2007. People ask me if it will be hard to watch the Cup rather than participate. Not really. I know that it takes three years of total dedication to prepare a team to compete in the America’s Cup. For me, it has been important, during the past three years, to have at least some time at home with my family, especially my kids who are finishing up high school and entering university. There is a time for everything and some things can’t be rescheduled.

It was interesting for me to be on the inside of the AC game after a few years away. Some areas of the campaign have really been taken to new heights. Others are just the same. The main thing that is the same is that it is all about people. It is about the individuals you start with and the team you build with them. It is about making a strategy and managing the path you take in consideration of the constantly changing environment. And now, in the end, it is about taking what you have, whether it is what you had hoped for or not, making a “game day” strategy and winning the important races.

Desafio have a good team. Like many teams, they will need to continue to improve as the racing goes on. Probably no team is as good today as the winner will be in the final race of the Cup. So everyone has to evolve. To do that well, you have to be astute observers and then flexible to allow for some change. How much you attempt to change is another $200 million question. This is where experience comes in.

I found the performance analysis aspect of the campaign to be quite improved. The amount of data collected, the format developed for reviewing that data and the key people in the analysis department who lead the debriefs with the sailors; all were quite impressive.

The first week of April is a big show and tell week. On April 1st, the teams were required to unveil the underbodies of their boats. Anyone could walk into a base, within 3 meters of a boat, and inspect it. It is quite interesting to see what tradeoffs teams have made in terms of drag and righting moment and size of appendages for control. In addition, the last training regatta, ACT 13, got underway yesterday. It is a fleet racing event that lasts until Friday. This is a chance for all teams to gauge their performance against their rivals just before the all-important Round Robins start on April 16th.

Once the Round Robins start, it will be all over for 7 of the 11 challengers very quickly. Unlike previous America’s Cup’s, this Cup reduces the challenger group to four boats in three weeks. No time to make changes to your boat after learning something from a bit of racing. This favors the big teams that have had both time and good boats to do their own development in house.

As for me, I will be providing commentary for the Italian TV rights holder, La7. I will be working with Paolo Cecinelli who brought Il Moro di Venezia into Italian households in 1992. La7 has a good team in Valencia of over 80 people all up, so this is a very professional broadcast. This is a new challenge for me, to try to bring my passion and enthusiasm for sailing to the public. There is the added challenge of doing this in Italian, rather than English. So I will be in Valencia for 12 days a month, then back home in San Francisco for the rest of the month, throughout the spring.

If you are planning on following the Cup this spring, don’t wait too long, if you blink you will miss half of it.