Will the weather play the greater part in the 33rd Americas Cup? Matthew Sheahan considers
For many Cup followers, the technology associated with the two monster multihulls has provided a welcome break from the legal bickering and constant disagreements. Any boat that can travel at more than three times the wind speed is impressive and will usually start a discussion, but when it’s a boat more than 100ft long the achievement is not only staggering, but beyond most people’s comprehension.
Little surprise then, that the focus in recent weeks has been a global discussion as to which of the machines will have the upper hand come the day. The current popular view is that Alinghi V is better suited to light airs and BMW Oracle’s USA-17 is a better boat in brisker conditions. Publicly, both teams seem happy with this perception, yet talking to some of the technical experts behind the scenes reveals plenty of teeth sucking. Privately, neither side seems as confident in their predictions as the popular view suggests.
Straight line speed is one thing, an aspect that each team knows a lot about the other. But how will they compare when it comes to pointing or manoeuvring? General wing thinking suggests that USA-17’s will have the edge when it comes to pointing and through the tacks she’s blisteringly quick as her solid sail drives the tri through the breeze in a way that a soft sailed cat doesn’t seem to be able to.
Weighing up the pros and cons has and will continue to be the basis of some of the hottest bar talk as we countdown to the Cup with talk of technology rather than the skills of individual sailors being the major topic.
Just like it was in 2003 in Auckland.
The prolonged speculation as to what the Kiwis were really up to aboard NZL-82 was revealed with the ‘Hula’, an underwater rule bender. Elsewhere on the boat, technology had played an important part in providing what many saw as the most technically advanced IACC boat to date. And as the big day loomed, experts were split 50/50 on who would win the Cup.
Yet after just 25 minutes of the first race, the likely new winner of the 31st America’s Cup was far clearer.
Six minutes after the start gun had been fired in race 1 of the 2003 America’s Cup, the Kiwis were forced to start bailing as NZL-82 took on water.
At 13 minutes the Kiwi mainsail boom broke.
At 17 minutes the genoa tack blew out, but the nightmare still wasn’t over. As the crew hoisted a replacement headsail the sail blew out of the luff groove.
Twenty-two minutes after the start and Team New Zealand’s race was over. A spectacular breakdown that, after 25 minutes and at 13:40 resulted in the Kiwis retiring from the race.
The last time a defender withdrew from a race in the America’s Cup Match had been in 1920. Resolute retired from a race against Shamrock IV when the throat halyard, controlling the inboard end of the gaff supporting the mainsail, broke in a squall.
This time around, for the 33rd America’s Cup, there has been plenty of discussion about how fragile each of the boats is. Can they really go the distance? How will the boats cope when the crews press that little bit harder on the gas in the heat of competition? And will there really be any wind limits?
The last issue is one that is currently being discussed by the Jury and is one that could define the 33rd America’s Cup.
There is no mention of wind limits in the Deed of Gift, not maximum, not minimum, as well as no mention as to whether the wind direction has to be stable either. If the event is run without limits we could find that the Cup kicks off quicker than we think with little reason, other than mutual agreement, (good luck with that one), for either team not to leave the dock. And while no one would wish a technical problem on either of the teams, if ever there was a Cup that could be decided by the weather, it would appear that this could be it.
The outcome of the Jury’s ruling that is expected to come later today could be crucial.
LINKS & INFORMATION
Racing is due to start 8 Feb 2010 with following races 10th & 12 Feb. The 33rd America’s Cup is a best of three series
YW PREVIEW SPECIAL
Check out our previews to the Cup as published in the January and February 2010 issues of Yachting World now available in pdf format and available free online.
YW VIDEO CLIPS
See BMW Oracle hit 25 knots in 6-8 knots of wind
Official 33rd America’s Cup Site
AERIAL VIEW OF THE HARBOUR
Aerial view of Darsena and commercial harbours
WEATHER – FORECASTS
Wind and Waves Valencia – Puertos del Estado
XC Weather Spain – Current National conditions
HOW TO GET TO AMERICA’S CUP VENUE
To Valencia by Air:
The easiest way is to fly to Valencia and then take a taxi. Approx cost of taxi to harbour, €20
See www.valenciaport.com for more information
Unfortunately, at this time of year there are fewer direct flights to Valencia than during the summer season. Therefore an alternative route is to fly to Alicante and either take the train or hire a car. Driving takes approx 2 hours and car rental is cheap.
To harbour from Valencia train station:
A taxi from the train station is about a 20-minute ride.
Heading to Valencia on the A7 toll motorway, connect to the V-15 or V-30 to the port, which is signposted.