We got going early today and filmed Alinghi and BMW Oracle from the water. A very nice guy offered to take us around the port in his new 60 footer. We even sailed for about 40 minutes on the way back from the commercial port where BMW Oracle is berthed.

We saw BMW Oracle up close with the wing up as it lay on its mooring. (Pictures) The boat sails around in a 100 foot arc. The wind piped up just after we left and both teams scraped their plans to go out for a short sail. We had 30 knots on the masthead of our little 60 footer’s mast at 80 feet so imagine what wind speed they would have had at 224′ up?

The World Sailing Teams Association had a lunch with some journalists. We explained our goals and schedule for 2010. Our next Louis Vuitton Trophy event will be in Auckland in early March.

I then found time to go for a run along Malva Rosa beach again and then had dinner with some very good friends from San Francisco, the Doug and Laurel Holm. We ate in a great fish restaurant that is so quaint that you ring a bell and then they let you in if you have a reservation. There is no sign on the outside of the building.

Tomorrow’s forecast is not great….a lot of wind. In fact, the race committee already announced the first delay tonight by postponing the start time to no earlier than noon. The breeze is supposed to drop during the day but it will take a while for the sea to come down. We will see but it is not starting well.

You can see some of the Eurosport show at this site. http://eurosport.yahoo.com/sailing/#more-sports-page

No wind, no race, no good. I feel like we let everyone down today.

Too often when we have big events where Television, sponsors, sailing fans and media have planned on following a race, the race doesn’t happen on time or at all. Some of it I can accept. I know that we need wind to race and even with the best of planning and venues, there are going to be days of no wind. But there are times where we don’t do ourselves any favors.

In this case here in Valencia, we have put ourselves in the hands of a judge because we could not agree on when to race. So here we are in February, in Europe, trying to hold the most important race in our sport. This is going to be about as difficult as holding the World Cup of skiing in Gstaad in August.

And there have been other times in past America’s Cups where we have had upper wind limits in the Version 5 ACC boats at 19 knots. 19 knots is just plain a good day for sailing. It is embarrassing when the Opti kids are heading out and we are towing in.

We need to raise our game!

I guess you can tell that I did not enjoy myself today trying to make small talk on Eurosport while explaining an indefinite delay followed by a race abandonment.

The schedule put forward by SNG allows for racing only on scheduled race days and race days have been scheduled for every even numbered day this month. So Wednesday we will try again to bring you race #1 of the 33rd America’s Cup. Then Friday is next for race #2. It is hard for the media, sponsors and fans to stay in Valencia when the prospect for racing on any given day is not too good and there are 48 hours between scheduled races.

The forecast for Wednesday is for a north westerly in the morning to die and for a south east sea breeze to fill in the afternoon. Sounds sketchy to me as there isn’t much heat around here to suck in a sea breeze. The forecasted strength is good enough to race….7-10 knots. Lets hope!

Tomorrow we are shooting some material in the morning and I have been invited to go out with BMW Oracle and watch them on a short training run in the afternoon. We also will have a WSTA lunch tomorrow so it will be a busy day.

Sorry, no photos of the rain and no wind from today. Better not to document that.

With very light winds on the Mediterranean Sea and less than 24 hours to the start of Race 1 of the 33rd Ameirca’s cup, both Alinghi V and BMW Oracle were keen to get out on the water and make final preparations.

I was invited to the BMW Oracle base at 0730 to observe the wing raising operation. Operation is the key word here. It took about 2 hours from the time the wing started to move out from its shed until it was vertical on the “platform” (French for the boat). The conditions were good for the “operation”; very light wind and no sea in the harbor. Basically the wing is attached to the platform, while virtually horizontal, with the help of a crane. The wing, still horizontal, is then supported by block and tackle attached to a relatively short pole, vertically mounted on the platform and then the crane is disconnected. Next, the platform with the wing attached, is moved out to a mooring. Once on the mooring the wing is raised by using the onboard motor to drive the winches, while slowly raising the wing. See the enclosed photos.

The sunrise was spectacular this morning with red clouds, providing incredible lighting for the wing operation. The whole scene was surreal for me. The time of day, the lighting, the wing and the fact that in 24 hours time, these two beasts would be facing off against eachother.

I had a chance to talk to Skipper James Spithill while the boat was being rigged. James had some very interesting insight to the wing and the foils and how they are used on the boat. It made me think back to 1986 and our radical 12 meter USA and all that we sailors learned from that project. This Cup will no doubt be a huge addition to the technical competence of all involved on both sides. Then Larry Ellison walked into the compound, all suited up with plenty of clothes on as he was heading out for a sail. He was very friendly to me as we spent at least 15 minutes chatting about this Cup, the future of the Cup and the RC 44’s which he loves too. I hadn’t talked to him for that long since we spent a week racing the Trans-Pac together in 1995. He seemed really excited about the technology of this Cup and their chances of winning.

At 1200 as Alinghi V glided out of the America’s Cup Harbor under tow, there was a large crowd on hand, possibly 5000 people. Just as in 2007, a large Italian contingency is here. I could not help but wonder, once again, how big the America’s Cup would be if it ever held in Italy.

The Defender made a few more adjustments to the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions today. There are some great people here on the race committee, jury, umpires and measurement committees. The best in their sector! These people get too little credit for what they do, mostly off camera. My guess is that there will be some post race measurement checks initiated by the measurer and there may event be a measurement protest tomorrow. If there are measurement protests, they will be known before the boats enter the starting box, at the 5 minute gun.

The forecast for tomorrow is very light westerly winds in the morning, shifting to the south and increasing a bit….maybe up to 10 knots. There is a chance the race committee will postpone ashore, waiting for better conditions.

Enjoy the Super Bowl!

Kind of a quiet day here in Valencia today. No sailing by either team as the wind was still gusty from the west and prudence was the call just 48 hours before race 1.

In TV world we started at 0900 finishing filming a couple of “standups” for our first show, which will air tonight at 2145 CET on Eurosport. I also did a few interviews with Italian newspapers. We finished shooting around 1400 and the boys went to work editing. That is when I get cut loose.

So I decided to go for a long run up Malvarosa Beach which is right in front of my hotel. Then I came back a worked out in the gym. That put me officially over the jet lag and I am feeling good. Now for the reward….we are going to eat at an Argentinean Asador (meat restaurant) tonight.

The forecast for tomorrow is for sailable winds and I imagine both teams will get out on the water. Alinghi put their boat back in the water tonight. We are going to try to film the BMW Oracle “wing up” operation. We are then going to shoot a few pieces on the basics of sail boat racing….the wind direction vs. the axis of the course and why one boat can gain from a wind shift….etc. This and some other material will be edited into show number two for tomorrow evening.

It looks like “game on” for Monday. The wind is forecast to be in the 5-8 knot range starting out from the west and then backing into the south. If the wind speed stays light, it is supposedly favorable to Alinghi. However, I would say no one really knows what is going to happen when these two beasts line up. I am excited to see.

I know it is Super Bowl Sunday tomorrow. I will be watching from here. It starts at 23:45 for me so between the Super Bowl and a 1000 start on Monday for the first race of the America’s Cup, I wont get much sleep in Sunday night.

Today was my first full day here in Valencia. No sailing by either team as the wind was forecast to be strong. There was a about 20 knots today and it is supposed to be more tonight. Things are supposed to be better tomorrow and this might get the competitors out for some last minute testing in the afternoon.

I spent a few hours with my Eurosport TV crew at the BMW Oracle base this morning. We got a tour of the wing which was down and inside a large… no make that very large…. tent. I have enclosed some photos. Try to look for people in the pictures so you can get a feel for the size of this thing. It is the largest wing ever built, period, bar none. It is about twice the span of a 747 wing. It is 223 feet long! It weighs about 3.5 tons and it’s truly and engineering marvel. There are 200,000 man hours in the wing. It is a two element wing in 9 vertical sections. The control system is wires inside the wing all coming down to the “platform” (the boat) where hydraulics do the pushing and pulling. Dirk de Ridder runs the controls. Dirk sailed around the world with me on Pirates of the Caribbean and he gave me a tour up on the deck of the boat. It is also amazing and I can tell you it is very racy. One detail I noticed was the trampoline net between the hulls that most multihulls have for the crew walk on to get from side to side and to stow sails on. The BMW Oracle boys have cut the netting down to a very small longitudinal strip right along the main hull, only where it is truly essential, in an effort to cut weight and windage. This means that when they tack or gybe they run from one pontoon toward the main hull they have to be clipped onto the boat so that if they fall, they will stay attached to the boat rather than go overboard. I hope the tethers are short because if you fall off when the boat is doing 40 knots you would rather just be cut loss than dragged through the water.

I caught up with the two lead builders for BMW Oracle, Tim Smyth, who was the builder of the boat I won the Whitbread with, EF Language, and Mark Turner who was with Oracle when I worked with the team in 2000. This has been a construction contest; they have built the Trimaran, they have rebuilt the Trimaran, they have built three masts then the wing then they added 8 meters to the wing. Not to mention building things like the foils. Each dagger board is more complicated than building a house. There are bulkheads, skins, and hundreds of layers of carbon fiber that have to be vacuumed bagged between each layer, heated to just the right temperature to cure, etc. Just putting the wing in the boat is a militaristic operation involving 40 people. The scale of this boat makes everything hard and requires coordination and communication.

Each team, Alinghi and then BMW Oracle, held press conferences in their bases tonight. I attended the BMW conference where Russell Coutts, Larry Ellison and Skipper James Spithill answered questions for about an hour. There is still a lot of acrimony between these two teams and plenty of issues of disagreement. The media asked a lot of questions about the “constructed in country” lawsuit still pending in New York Courts. But the bottom line is that we will see the two most high tech sail boats ever built, come together on the starting line on Monday morning, weathering permitting, and that is exciting to me. The starting line will become very small for both skippers when the closing speed is over 50 knots. I don’t think we have ever seen a match where the outcome is less predictable. Also we haven’t seen a match where the weather will be so determinant. This will be a spectacle.

What am I doing over here? I am the technical commentator for Eurosport for the 33rd America’s Cup. Eurosport is broadcast in 54 countries in Europe and Asia. Unfortunately I don’t think it is broadcast in the USA. Tomorrow, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, (all non race days) we will produce an 8 minute piece. Starting Monday and on all race days, Damien and I will comment the races live for about 2 hours. Tonight I interviewed Russell Coutts for tomorrow’s piece. Kind of strange for me to interview Russ who is a friend and contemporary. I don’t know if I did a good job because having been in his shoes all I could think of is what a pain in the ass I must have been.

I have just arrived in Valencia where I will be part of the television coverage team from EuroSport for the upcoming America’s Cup.

It seems that the 33rd America’s Cup is actually going to take place. After years of legal wrangling, the two giant multihulls are scheduled to face off at 10:00 Monday morning on the waters to the east of Valencia. As the course for race one is a 20 nautical mile beat to windward and return, a westerly breeze will put the starting line some 20+ miles offshore. May be close to come from Ibiza to watch.

Strong westerly winds are not uncommon in Valencia in the winter. The Sailing instructions state that a maximum wind speed of 15 knots measured at 60 meters shall not be exceeded at start time. Not sure who is measuring at 60 meters other than the two competitors. Could it be that this is the one issue they will collaborate on? Surely not.

I am here a few days early to try to get a better technical understanding of this match up so I can report to you and on Eurosport from a more educated position. I have been rereading all the legal haggling from the last two years on the airplane. It is amazing what these two teams have been through. The biggest cloud hanging over the race with be the contention by BMW Oracle that Alinghi’s sails are not built in Switzerland and therefore don’t comply with the “constructed in county” clause of the Deed of Gift. The sails are North 3 DL and they are laminated in Minden Nevada. Some amount of work is done on them in Switzerland after the lamination process. The court has now set a hearing date for this case of February 25, 2010. Only a USA victory on the racecourse would eliminate that issue.

Some sites to visit:

Also check out the Youtube videos of the BMW Oracle Triamaran sailing on January 28, 2010. I am sure there are some Alinghi videos as well. Pretty impressive!