Tuesday 9 February 2010

America's Cup: Race 1 Postponed - Wait 'til Wednesday

Race 1 of the 33rd America’s Cup remains on hold after the breezes off Valencia refused to cooperate to allow the scheduled first showdown between the two giant multihulls Alinghi 5 and USA to take place Monday

Image © Consorcio Valencia.

by America's Cup media

Race officer Harold Bennett (NZL) and the race committee team made considerable efforts to locate a wind which was settled enough and of sufficiently even strength across the proposed 20 miles first leg, but they proved fruitless.

An offshore breeze at times looked promising but it never quite mustered enough strength to spread out to sea to reach the start area. But the difference in the direction of that breeze and the direction of the very gentle air in which the Race Committee sat was considered too great for a fair race.

It proved a frustrating day for all on the waters off Valencia, despite tantalising glimpses of the fantastic technology which promises so much. Everything was in place and operating well for the planned 1000hrs countdown to the historic match up. Live TV streaming from the race course on the internet, for the first time in the America’s Cup, complemented by Virtual Eye 3-D imaging worked well. But the postponement was signalled at 0955hrs this morning.

The different winds ranged between 2 knots and 13 knots, and at times there was 100 degrees of variance between the mean wind direction at the committee boat and the wind direction at the proposed turning buoy. At best there was around 40 degrees of difference.

For the prescribed 20 miles upwind leg the Race Committee need a strong measure of confidence that there will not be a significant wind shift after the start to ensure a fair race.

The adversaries had left their respective bases to huge acclaim in the early morning, between 6.30am and 07.00 am. A Hollywood style production for the BMW ORACLE Racing team sent pulses racing as the Challenger team set off into the very early darkness, while soundtrack to the Defender, Alinghi 5’s departure was fervent alpine cowbells and loud airhorns.

Returning after the postponement both multihulls were making around 15knots in just 5 knots in wind.

Race 1 is now rescheduled for Wednesday 10th with the time gun due at 1000hrs.

Ashore in the America’s Cup Park more than 1000 kids of between three and 10 years old, from ten different local Valencia schools visited to be greeted by King Neptune.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) the America’s Cup Park opens between 1000hrs and 1800hrs.


Harold Bennett (NZL) Principal Race Officer:
“It is disappointing of course to get started though the conditions that we expected when we went out this morning just did not eventualise. We sat with next to no wind were we were. It is a real shame.

“We had no problems from the teams with the decision. I speak to the weather teams from both teams throughout, and with the sailors before we made the decision. They were happy that the decision was the right one.

“And since we took it there have been no changes that suggest to me that there was any other option.

“I always knew it was going to be like this.

“But that’s the game we are in. We have to wait for the next one.”

Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), president and helmsman Alinghi (SUI):
“It was the first time we set out at night to go to the race zone. That lasted two hours it was very special. I was confident we would go racing but from 10am that meteorologists started to say that the chances were reducing. The wind was expected to drop certainly because of the rain which prevented any thermal wind activity. But it was good to have the two boats alongside each other.”

Matteo Plazzi (ITA) navigator BMW ORACLE Racing (USA):
“We thought that in the morning it would be light and it would be difficult to race, but we thought there would be a good chance to race in the afternoon.

“I don’t think anybody thought we should have raced.

“The weather was complicated for a system of winds that was going through. There were several cells of low pressure developing over the race course area, and so over the 20 miles there was a 100 degree difference from side to side.

“It would have been impossible to have an upwind leg.

“It was a good call. Racing today would have been a gamble, and you don’t want to gamble when there are only two points to win or lose.”

Jack Katzfey (AUS/USA), meteo specialist, Alinghi (SUI):
“Our forecasts gave from six to nine knotsof wind today but finally the wind was too weak to race. The race committee was right not to start the race. There were two knots on the start line. That is really too little for that the wind to be stable. With five knots you have definitely more chances to have a more regular flow. ”

Chris Bedford (USA) meteo specialist, BMW ORACLE Racing (USA):
“We had a southerly breeze well offshore that was occasionally filtering into the start area.

“But closer to shore we had a westerly breeze for most of the afternoon. At times it was showing up to 14 knots at the top mark.

“So there was pressure (wind) trying to make it onto the course, but because of these two winds converging, we never had enough breeze over a 20-mile leg to get going... I think the Race Committee did a good job today.”

33rd America's Cup

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