Will this mean that the Cup gets underway tomorrow? Matthew Sheahan reports
Thank heavens that the 20 min cycle ride down to the America’s Cup basin was downwind. As 20+ knots, the whistled through the streets of Valencia providing a welcome helping hand to the morning commute. Out in the harbour where BMW Oracle’s trimaran is moored it was a different story. Here, the breeze gusted well into the high twenties causing the 230ft tall wing to thrash around like a stallion in the paddock, tugging the boat beneath it.
It must have been a long night for the boat’s babysitters who have been nursing her day and night since the wing went up on Sunday, but the worst isn’t over yet. With the breeze forecast to remain overnight, it’s not until daybreak Friday that things start to settle down. Even then, there will be the remains of a decent swell still running form the north. The big question is whether by afternoon, when the 8-12 knot breeze is forecast to swing to the south, that the waves stopping running from the opposite direction. Sailing downwind with a sea running straight into you is no fun in any boat, trying it in a multihull at 25+ knots would surely be a boat breaking experience.
Meanwhile, in the Alinghi base today the Defenders ran a workshop for the press led by their weather gurus John Bilger and Jack Katzfey. The session was fascinating as the pair explained how the team goes about collecting its data and how different this Cup is to previous ones both for the met boys and the crews.
“For the sailors, this Cup is really a case of sailing blind,” explained Bilger. “On a version 5 Cup boat wind spotters could see 10 minutes ahead from the deck and 16 minutes from the top of the mast. Now, given the speed that these boats are sailing at they can only see 1 minute ahead and 3 minutes from up the mast.”
“We’re also hearing from the crews that the biggest performance issue on these boast is the weather,” he continued. “If they can find 1-2 knots more breeze, the improvement in boat speed is far greater than any other performance enhancing factor that the team has tested. Just 2 knots of boat speed can produce another 6-7 knots of boat speed.”
And it’s not just the potential increase in boat speed that is linked to a small increase in wind speed. According to Bilger 1 knot of pressure can be equivalent to a 20 degrees wind shift. Clearly for these generation of Cup boats, wind speed is far more important than wind direction.
Another new feature of the Alinghi weather team is the use of a pair of microlights on floats. The team still runs nine weather boats but again, given the size of the course, up from 9 to 400 square nautical miles, the two planes can cover a much greater area than the RIBs and at any height. The microlights, which are equipped with a sophisticated array of electronic equipment, are also cheaper to buy and run than the RIBs.
But getting back to the ‘will it/won’t it’ topic of the weather in store, what did Bilger think were the most likely conditions in which a race would be run?
“The best chances of suitable conditions over this sized course are when there’s a weak easterly gradient,” he said.
Unfortunately tomorrow doesn’t appear to fall into that bracket, although no one is writing the prospect of racing off. They are however pinning more hopes on Sunday, when the breeze settles down to sub 10 knots from the north east. Before, that it, it swings to the south east in the afternoon!
Mind you, that would suit me fine for the cycle home.
Racing is due to start 1006CET Friday 11 Feb
LIVE ONLINE COVERAGE
OFFICIAL AMERICA’S CUP ONLINE COVERAGE
PJ Montgomery, Andy Green and Cam Lewis will provide live commentary on the racing which will include Virtual Eye live animations.
LIVE RACE COVERAGE
Will be streaming live coverage with expert commentators Martin Tasker and Peter Lester, starting with the preparations for docking out. The coverage will then switch to the official feed for the racing. After racing BMW Oracle will switch to their live coverage back to the dock.
LINKS & INFORMATION
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.
CLICK HERE -AC33 PREVIEW – THE BOATS
CLICK HERE – AC33 PREVIEW PART 2 – TEAM TALK
CLICK HERE – AC33 PREVIEW PART 3 – COURSES AND CONDITIONS
YW VIDEO CLIPS
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.