Another breezy day in store with a suggestion that the weather might push beyond the limits again
While Saturday’s turnaround saw a change in fortunes for Oracle Racing scrubbing their negative score and lifting them to zero on the points board, the result was not seen as a game changer. Sure Oracle had found more pace upwind and was more nimble when it came to tactics, but the team still had to win twice as many races as the Kiwis to take the Cup.
At least that was the view before we had seen the weather forecast for the next few days. Today sees the breeze build more than Saturday’s top end conditions and with a stronger tide running against the breeze for much of the day conditions could reduce or stop the racing programme for today and possibly further.
“The good news is that the forecast models show 18-20 knots and the strong ebb tide makes for a more even race course,” said regatta director Iain Murray at this morning’s briefing.
“The bad news is that the breeze was stronger than expected early on this morning. It’s going to be close to the limits out there and as we’ve seen, when the breeze comes in it does so at 4-5 knots instantaneously.”
An additional headache is that Monday is not a race day making Tuesday the next available race day.
“Looking forward to Tuesday the breeze is looking even stronger,” continued Murray.
The change of pace in the racing is not good for Team New Zealand who’s winning momentum could be broken. The delays could also provide a potential advantage to Oracle who can continue to fiddle tweak and fettle. Of course, we don’t know how much more they have to play with, but the chances are that in the far reaching development programme that this team has undertaken over the last two years there will be plenty of design and set up scenarios that may be worth re-addressing now they know what they’re up against.
Having said that, while Spithill’s team has made gains upwind they appear to have lost some of their initial acceleration in the pre-start and off the line as well as having slightly less pace downhill than they had before. Not all tweaks and changes will be for the better.
The Kiwis on the other hand look like they have taken a more linear approach to their design and development programme, starting from basics and gradually working towards a conclusion. At a complete guess I wouldn’t mind betting that Team New Zealand is sailing at 95% of its potential whereas Oracle could still be somewhere in the 80s. Subjective for sure, but Oracle’s rapid development in performance in the heat of the competition provides some evidence of this.
So once again it’s fingers crossed racing takes place and more jitters around the AC park as another race day proves as important as any that have gone before.
Racing starts at 1315 local 2115 BST