Aside from the talk of airlines, hotels and strong breeze, who’s got the upper hand today?

The daily morning chatter in the media centre that focuses typically on changed flights and over booked hotels took a break today in favour of the weather. It’s going to blow.

“Potentially we’re looking at the most breeze that we’ve seen’, said regatta director Iain Murray at this morning’s briefing. “There’s 15-16 knots out there already and we’re expecting it to build throughout the day,” he said before outlining the top end of the breeze at 20-23 knots.

On the plus side, with the tide in flood for the whole race period the effective wind limits are 24.7 and 24.1 knots for race one and two, increasing the chances of getting the racing off.

But there’s a new air of tension today. After a string of light days the teams need to change gear, forget how tired they are and get ready for a boisterous blast around the track.

“These crews are spent after 25-30 minutes of racing,” said Murray.

So who will be favoured given today’s conditions?

The straightforward answer is that no one knows, once again. But change in weather could be good news for the Kiwis. The last few days have shown how Oracle has an extra gear in marginal foiling conditions. Somehow they seem to be able to get up onto their foils that bit sooner as we saw off the start yesterday and accelerate that bit quicker. The home team also seems to be up and running earlier on the upwind legs too. Their ability to stick their bows down through a tack, pop up on the foils before winding back up onto the breeze at 32 knots is a move that the Kiwis don’t appear to be able to match.

The stronger winds could well reduce this advantage. At the very least it will be easier for Barker and Co to see today as a fresh start rather than a return to conditions that have dealt them blow after blow.

Another strong hand that Oracle has is the Ainslie/Slingsby duo versus the one man bad of Ray Davies at the back of the Kiwi boat when it comes to tactics and strategy. Two pairs of eyes surely provide an advantage when spotting where the next sliver of breeze will come from and figuring out how to exploit it. Today’s more solid breeze could well see this potential advantage reduced as well.

And then there’s Grant Dalton, he’s back on the boat. Whether he’s the team’s lucky mascot or the one man who’s not afraid of tough talk when it counts, this has to be good news for a team that needs to get more aggressive.

So there’s plenty to watch out for as one team tries to end the Cup today and the other tries to stretch it out for a further 24hours. It’s almost as if the latter is in cahoots with my travel agent.

More news later.

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