Louis Vuitton Cup Semi Finals-Day 1

Following a front that passed through the area Sunday night, a moderate Westerly wind was in place early this morning on the waters off Valencia. The westerly wind is quite shifty and puffy as it is coming off the city. This made for some tricky racing.

In the first match, Luna Rossa and BMW Oracle got of the line fairly evenly with BMW Oracle to windward on starboard tack. The boats drag raced out to the left with very little changing between them. This is the best look at the relative speed of the boats that we would get all day. After that, Luna Rosa tacked to port and BMW Oracle tacked in front of them in what looked like quite a strong position but Luna Rossa climbed out to windward and lived for a long speed test back toward the middle of the track. At the 3/4’s mark, Luna Rossa had a 2 boat length lead. From there Luna went left and BMW went right and the left paid. Luna at the top mark by 29 seconds.

Down the first run, Luna gybed first into the middle of the course and there was less wind there. The boats arrived at the gate together but with Luna able to round the left gate and head left while BMW went right. Luna tacked onto port to match BMW after about four minutes but the whole time both were on port, Luna gained. At one point, Luna Rossa had a 400 meter lead. At this point, Luna Rossa just sailed the wind they had without regard to BMW. The two boats were never in the same wind so classic match racing tactics would have brought Luna Rossa back to BMW Oracle. Luna tactician Torben Grael is the best at these difficult and shifty breezes and he did a greatest job today even if some of the Italian spectators would have liked a little tighter cover at times.

On the final run, Luna sailed more in the same wind as BMW Oracle, albeit from in front, and went on to win by over 2 minutes. Right at the end of the race the sea breeze came in and pushed the westerly off the course. This exaggerated Luna’s lead which really would have been about 30 seconds. For Team New Zealand and Desafio, this shift was a bigger deal and the final pair sailed the last mile of the race upwind!

In the TNZ-Desafio match, TNZ got the first shift and maintained the lead all the way around. At times, Desafio made big gains to erode TNZ’s lead. There did not seem to be an appreciable speed difference between the Spanish and the Kiwi’s but then again, today was not the day to read speed.

It was a day of sailing the wind you had. Tomorrow should return to more stable conditions. That should allow us to better interpret the speed of the boats.

For us with Italian TV, it could not have started better. I big win in the first race of a series for Luna Rossa means huge audience for the days to come.

This evening I went to visit 180 members of the St. Francis Yacht Club who are on the Commodores Cruise here in Valencia. Nice to see so many friends. After that I Went to a function by the Yacht Club de Monaco in the Valencia Super Yacht Marina to celebrate the arrival of “La Belle Classe” classic yachts Tuiga (1909), Ivanhoe (1938) and Eleonora (replica of 1910).