Welcome to the “new” America’s Cup, which looks pretty much like the “old” one in Valencia as the first ever chance we had to see three of the four spectacular AC72′s sail together on San Francisco bay was cancelled because of weather conditions. It does look like Valencia in April 2007 with the only difference that while in Valencia there was no breeze, in San Francisco this Friday there is too much of it. According to Iain Murray there were in excess of 25 knots early in the morning, forecast to go over 30 knots in the afternoon, with gusts of 40 knots.
Iain Murray, America’s Cup Regatta Director, certainly wasn’t the happiest person when he had to announce that the three AC72′s weren’t going to take part in the scheduled “boat parade” and “time trials” where the high-tech America’s Cup boats were supposed to be towed to the actual race course and then do one race each, starting 10 minutes apart. With that scrapped, today’s action was reduced to a parade of the schooner “America”, followed by tenders from each team and race organizers!
I will most probably be criticized once again for repeating it over and over but if race organizers all over the world haven’t been able to completely eliminate weather risks from the sport of sailing it is because there is absolutely no way anyone can! Sailing is probably the one sport that depends most on weather conditions and unless someone has supernatural powers or a direct line to God, that dependence will never be eliminated. The question though is why wasn’t there a Plan B in case of uncooperative weather conditions. They could still have taken four AC45′s sailing from the America’s Cup Park to the Golden Gate Yacht Club.
Not a happy bunch of people at the Louis Vuitton Cup press conference. San Francisco, 5 July 2013. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / www.vsail.info
Hopefully, weather will get better, San Francisco will live up to its promise of fabulous sailing and come Sunday we will be able to watch an exciting race between Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand. Or will we?
Max Sirena, skipper of Luna Rossa, threw cold water on everybody in the press conference room by stating that his team’s participation in the race if far from certain. I don’t think there is any need to go through all the details of the current drama, if you have been reading this website you must have seen more than enough. The core of the story is that there are two protests, one from Luna Rossa and another from Emirates Team New Zealand, that could blow apart most of the rules. Although the international Jury arrived in San Francisco on Wednesday, two days ago, they were initially scheduled to convene on Monday, the day AFTER the first scheduled race of the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup, something that puzzled each and every reporter from the mainstream press and the main news agencies.
While the mantra in our sport has been to make it “simpler” and “easier” to understand for the average person, it is beyond anyone’s understanding why a Jury, in any sport, would decide on the rules of a race, after that race had finished!
In any case, Max Sirena made it clear that his team will not take part in the opening race on Sunday if the Jury hasn’t taken a decision by then. Patrizio Bertelli, Luna Rossa’s owner, made it clear in an interview two days ago with the Corriere della Sera that taking part in a race before the Jury’s decision would imply Luna Rossa indirectly accepted Iain Murray’s safety recommendations. Sirena was adamant his stance wasn’t about politics, it was about a question of principle. He stated Luna Rossa was in San Francisco to race but under the condition it was under fair rules.
As a result, it is now much more unclear whether they will be any race on Sunday and for that matter, whether there will be any racing during the Louis Vuitton Cup round robins, unless of course Artemis Racing can make it to the starting line. That’s probably the only positive and encouraging news we had in the press conference. Iain Percy, skipper of the Swedish challenger, said that the blue AC72 is currently undergoing stress tests and could be launched in a couple of weeks. According to Percy, it is “definitely possible” Artemis Racing could take part in the late stages of the round robins. He went on, though, stating that if Luna Rossa’s protest were upheld by the Jury, Artemis Racing could be out of the competition altogether!
One thing was clear from the press conference. No matter what Luna Rossa or Artemis might do, Dean Barker and the Emirates Team New Zealand crew will be on the starting line of each and every race their AC72 is scheduled to take part in. As Barker stated, they are here to race and they are happy to spend more time on the race course. Why don’t we skip the months of July and August and go directly to the America’s Cup match between Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand in September? It’s not a science fiction scenario any longer.
Here’s the full replay of the press conference if you are interested.