Good morning from hot and sunny Valencia. Unlike yesterday and the day before, when there were some brief showers in various parts of the Valencia metropolitan area, the skies this morning are blue and clear. According to the weather forecast from Chris Bedford, meteorologist of BMW Oracle, we should expect the sea breeze to develop late in the morning and reach 9 to 13 knots.
What makes this day competely different from the previous ones, in addition to the fact we are having semi-finals and finals for the first time, it’s that both race areas have been squeezed into the north race course. As of today, the Valencia Yacht Club is holding their annual Copa de la Reina regatta and will be using their traditional race course, coinciding with the America’s Cup south course. As a result, all races today and during the weekend will take place in the area off the Malvarosa beach. Undoubtedly, it will be a great show for spectators and beach goers.
As far as racing action is concerned, the 12 teams have been divided into 3 divisions according to their rank in the round robins and will race the semi-finals today and tomorrow. The first team of each semi-final to win two races moves on to the final while the defeated teams will face each other in a petit-final to decide third and fourth position within each division.
As it was to be expected, the first division consists of the Big Four (Emirates Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa, Alinghi and BMW Oracle). The top team of the division, Emirates Team New Zealand, got to choose their opponent and decided to race against BMW Oracle. July Ash, the authorative and exhilarating reporter of the New Zealand Herald here in Valencia, in today’s report writes that according to helmsman Dean Barker, the Kiwis decided to race against BMW Oracle not because they felt they were the weakest team but because “we are at a phase in our campaign where we are trying to finalise the design for our second boat. To do at least two more races against Oracle – we feel we can get more out of that than racing the other two teams.”
In order to give Dean Barker and the rest of the New Zealand crew, as well as our readers, a small hand in finding out what could USA-87, the brand new BMW Oracle boat, be hiding, we publish the following two photos of the boat, taken two days ago during the break between the two races.
The shadow of USA-87´s keel is visible in this shot, albeit not with absolute clarity. At first view, it doesn´t look like anything revolutionary, although it might be too early to judge. What is intriguing is the really long bulb. More photos will be taken on the weekend. Valencia, 28 June 2006. Photo by Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing
By now it is absolutely clear that USA-87 has a stern rudder. Valencia, 28 June 2006. Photo by Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing
It will be also extremely interesting to watch the race between Luna Rossa and Alinghi. Just two days ago, James Spithill and the rest of the Italian team’s crew put on a formidable performance against the Swiss Defender of the America’s Cup.
The fact that it is the second division doesn´t diminish the interest at all, on the contrary, we will have very close racing here as well. The first team of the division, Desafío Español, did not hesitate in choosing Shosholoza as their opponent for the semi-final. The South African challenger managed to sneak into the division after a three-way tie with Areva Challenge and +39 Challenge. The other match of the division, facing Mascalzone Latino – Capitalia Team and Victory Challenge will undoubtedly be the most closely watched race.
Last, but certainly not least, the third division will have its share of thrills, especially between Areva Challenge and +39 Challenge. Areva Challenge chose to race against China Team in their semi-final. If both Areva and +39 move on to the final of the division, the race will promise to be exciting between these teams fighting with their aged yachts, soon to be retired.