Are they Racing Today
Talbot Wilson, Americas Cup Correspondent
- After yesterdays drama involving Emirates Team New Zealand, all precautions will be taken before racing is confirmed for this afternoon (Photograph by Gilles Martin-Raget/ACEA via AP)
Welcome to the morning after the day before, Day 10 of the 35th Americas Cup, presented by Louis Vuitton.
This is the third day of the Louis Vuitton Americas Cup Challenger Play-off Semi-finals. Two races will be held today in each of two brackets in this best-of-nine knockout round.
In a very unofficial poll within the media centre yesterday, the most common big-breeze analogies included Sporty, Dogs off chains and Blowing a .
So, for today, forecasters expected a blowout with 25 knots and gusting to 40 in the morning hours. Looking for the bright side, they thought there was potential the breeze will settle to about 20 knots during the racing window, before gusty conditions ramp up again in the evening.
Wind models early this morning predicted steady 23kt winds with gusts to 35 at 2pm when the wind sampling for the first race of the day is scheduled.
Americas Cup Race Management will closely monitor conditions to determine if racing will occur. Friday is a spare day, so the schedule could easily be pushed back.
If races are sailed today, they should feature longer legs and more of them to maintain the time span of 20 to 22 minutes per match. The wind direction, like yesterday, will provide for optimum racing with an interesting breeze off the hills and flat water at the top end in the south and a chop at the bottom marks out towards Spanish Point.
The races will alternate between Artemis Racing v SoftBank Team Japan matches and Emirates Team New Zealand v Land Rover BAR. The teams will also alternate their side of entry, with SoftBank Team Japan and Land Rover BAR choosing a port-tack entry for their first starts of the day.
Earlier in the week, at a daily race management media briefing, race director Iain Murray told the media Q&A that the mandatory rules are that the average wind cannot exceed a 24kt average during the five-minute sampling period before the warning for the start.
The only reason to cancel a race after that comes down to my judgment as to whether we are in a dangerous situation. If a boat capsizes, he said, we will black flag the race and award the race to the non-capsized boat.
In hindsight, many now question whether the racing should have been abandoned after the carnage of the first two races of the day. Perhaps Murray was pressing too hard to stay on schedule. This is still sailboat racing; not Formula One.
After review of video footage of the capsize of Emirates Team New Zealand at the start of that second race yesterday, it appears that the Kiwi boats port rudder hitting the wake of Land Rover BAR and loosing its grip in the water was a contributing cause of the incident. The moment the New Zealand yacht enters the wake zone, the back end of their boat pops up and the nose digs in. And, as Glenn Ashby said: We went down the mine.
New Zealand had suffered wing failure shortly after entering the Great Sound for their first race of the day. They nursed the broken boat back to their base, hauled the boat, pulled the broken wing, installed a spare and were back out in 40 minutes, still putting bits and pieces together and setting up systems as they started just on time.
The New Zealand team started just behind BAR, but stuck to then and midway through the race got a chance to pass and took it. They were fast and happy with the boat and its heavy-air performance.