Losing a day to the weather is not uncommon in any regatta, but when the entire event is based around two days, losing 50 percent of the regatta is a big deal, especially when it’s the America’s Cup World Series. And even more so when it’s the very place that everyone wants to know about, the venue for the America’s Cup itself in 2017
Once the weather forecast came into view earlier in the week there was always a risk that the first day of racing here in Bermuda was going to be tricky, such were the predicted light winds. Yesterday’s practice racing was conducted in under 4 knots of breeze, well below the lower limit required for racing of 6 knots.
But today saw even glassier conditions out in the Great Sound where racing was due to take place.
Any lost day is a shame but you had to feel for the island and its local’s in particular who have not only taken this event to their hearts and put a huge effort into demonstrating just how up close and personal the Cup can be, but had turned out in their thousands both ashore and afloat.
Apparently there had been 1,400 applications for on the water boat accreditations and as we chugged our way out to the race course area it was easy to believe.
But after a long wait, a delicious lunch (thanks) and all kinds of conversations with some of the guests aboard the Land Rover BAR spectator boat, the race organisers moved the whole show into the harbour, just off Hamilton’s dock wall where there was at least some wind.
For a moment it looked as if racing would get under way and in the confines of the inner harbour the now compressed spectator fleet made for an even more impressive sight.
But sadly the breeze refused once again to play ball and racing was binned mid way through the France/NZ rugby match. Clearly not all was lost as we headed for shore and the big screens, but to loose a full day’s racing at the venue that will host the Cup in 2017 was a huge shame at best and an embarrassment at worst.
While the conditions look better for tomorrow, Sunday, this is the second time out of the three 2015 events that 50 percent of the racing time has been lost. I know it’s a small data set and you could argue that the ACWS has simply been unlucky, but this is still surely not a good look for a sport that has tried to do all it can to make yacht racing less dependent on the weather.
Indeed, there appears to be a growing feeling that perhaps there needs to be some provision to use the practice days as race days in the event that one of the race days proper is lost. It would certainly seem to make sense. On Thursday all the teams were racing as if their future’s depend on it, which they do, even though the race management was a casual affair, organised by Oracle.
Had this day still been a practice day but with provision to use the results in the event that weather stopped play later, there would at least be something to talk about and re-run for the TV stations rather than the previous regattas.
I’m sure there are plenty of reasons why this may not be possible or desirable, but then neither is a day spent staring at a glassy surface, no matter how good the lunch.
Racing is due to start at 1410 with three shorter races sailed back to back.
In the meantime if you want/need to catch up on what’s been going on here in Bermuda, here are my daily video diaries.
Practice day aboard Land Rover BAR
Practice day proper…but light