Gavin Brady, BMW Oracle tactician, considers the consequences after three days of no racing at the Louis Vuitton Cup plus video footage 19/4/07
Another day of zero wind on the bay of Valencia for the third day in a row is really starting to affect the structure of the opening rounds of the Louis Vuitton Cup.
Although there are two reserve days (Friday 20 April and Monday 23 April), nothing, at this stage is going make up for the race schedule disruption which has left organisers and, more importantly competitors, facing the prospect of having to ‘squeeze’ in races in order to complete the opening round of the challenger series.
Despite this far-from-ideal scenario, team morale around the camps, particularly among the smaller teams, is remaining fairly positive although the likes of Number 2 ranked BMW Oracle Team are starting to feel the pressure as time goes on.
Gavin Brady, tactician aboard BMW Oracle agrees that it’s an unfortunate situation but insists that team morale is still upbeat and confirms that the situation would have been totally different had the race committee fired a start. “There have been a couple of times over the last couple of days when the wind has almost been there. Any other regatta, at the Farr 52s for example, the organisers would have probably got the fleet away. So in that respect the committee has made the right decision over the last three days.
“If they’d started in the conditions we’ve had over the last three days, we’d have been just as well off in a boat built for the 1992 America’s Cup. The fact is we’ve had three years of testing and development trying to find one metre a minute more speed. In conditions like today that would have all gone out the window. For spectators it would be like watching Formula One racing on a real dusty, sandy racetrack. You’d say, ‘yes we got to see some really good drivers but we didn’t get to see the technology’.
“I am however, in two minds about whether we should pick and chose when to race,” added Brady. “There’s a part of me that feels that racing should start at 2pm every day no matter what. There should be no such thing as a postponement flag. At the end of the day, the best sailor should win.”
The big challenge teams will be facing right now is their strategic approach to the next phase. In theory Round Robin 2 should comprise one slightly longer race per day but with the current situation it looks as though they’ll be racing two races a day to the end of that round.
Clearly concerned about the lack of longer races Brady said: “The smaller teams should be happy, really happy right now. They do better on shorter courses. They want to see the likes of us, Prada and Team New Zealand for example expose our weaknesses. And yes, we all have them. A longer course enables us to play our own game and settle into it.
“We’ve invested three or four years of technology and we’ve got a really fast yacht, and good sailing team. A longer course means – 16 minute first beat in Round Robin 2 as opposed to a 12 minute beat in Round Robin 1 gives us time to let 98 settle in and do her thing. Prada, New Zealand probably feel that way too but for the smaller teams bring on the shorter course.”
How the schedule pans out depends entirely on today’s conditions. If the wind fails to appear again today and no racing is possible this means there are just four remaining days, including a reserve day, to complete the entire Louis Vuitton Cup Round Robin 1. Failing that, the races will have to be added on Round Robin 2 which definitely not an ideal situation for the likes of Prada, Oracle and Team New Zealand.