Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Louis Vuitton Cup - Round Robin 1 - Day 10: Preview

Will the tenth day of the Louis Vuitton Cup be as exciting and interesting as the previous one? Despite the initial postponement ashore yesterday, the breeze arrived stronger than the previous days and boy did it bring surprises. Team Shosholoza scored a big win against against top-three Luna Rossa who then went on to lose against BMW Oracle after an extremely close race. The South Africans might have their day this Wednesday when they face Emirates Team NZ and Desafío Español, although a win doesn't make a cup.

The recent results are just a confirmation that the Challenger fleet is much closer than what people might have expected. The so-called smaller teams after 2 or 3 years of intense official and practice racing in Valencia have had the opportunity to progress immensely. Their level of match racing and boat handling might not be on a par with the top three, but the differences have shrank considerably. No team has the luxury to take any race lightly.

Let's hope the weather is on our side today. The breeze may have returned but it was still light and it was still shifty but it was stable enough for some good racing. Don't forget that despite all the excitement of having two flights completed, the breeze was around 9 knots.

Louis Vuitton Cup leaderboard after Flight 5
Weather forecast
Today's official forecast sees weather fronts approaching Valencia slowly from the west. It is going to be another warm and dry day and the prevailing wind will be a light easterly gradient 4-6 knots, veering to southeast later in the afternoon with increase to 6-8 knots. Skies will be initially clear but the risk of high cloud later may restrict development and sustainability of sea breeze. A quick shut down is expected.

Sailors shouldn't get thrilled with such prospects but don't forget that early in the morning yesterday, forecasts were much similar and for the first time ever the race committee had issued a postponement ashore, only to lift it half an hour later and organize two exciting flights.

Here is today's weather forecast of Chris Bedford, meteorologist of BMW Oracle, courtesy of the BMW Oracle Blog.

weather forecast 20070425_bmwPreview

According to Chris Bedford, "Best guess: chance of one race is 90%, two races is 75% -- at least on the North Course".

Racing Schedule Flight 6
China Team - Desafío Español: A very easy start for the Spanish team and an opportunity to earn two valuable points.

Shosholoza - Emirates Team NZ: Confident after their nice victory over Luna Rossa, Shosholoza's crew were making triumphant statements in the media yesterday evening about the prospects of this difficult race. Reality is obviously harsher but nevertheless the South Africans have nothing to lose and much to gain.

Areva Challenge - Luna Rossa: No race should be taken lightly, but Areva Challenge shouldn't be a threat to Luna Rossa.

United Internet Team Germany - Mascalzone Capitalia: The German team shouldn't be a problem for Vasco Vascotto and his crew.

+39 Challenge - Victory Challenge: Victory Challenge might not have a walkaway but the Italian team has dim prospects.

Racing Schedule Flight 7
BMW Oracle - Areva Challenge: The still undefeated challenger of record shouldn't have any problems in beating the French team.

Luna Rossa - +39 Challenge: After their shock defeat by Shosholoza yesterday, Luna Rossa would be very careful in this Italian match, although +39 Challenge have not shown a strong performance so far and their boat, ITA-85, is struggling in these light conditions.

United Internet Team Germany - Emirates Team NZ: Two easy points for the kiwis in their first race of the day.

Mascalzone Capitalia - China Team: Here again, two points in the pocket for the Italians.

Desafío Español - Shosholoza: The second difficult race for Shosholoza. Two years ago this match would have been decided before it started but if the South Africans sail a perfect race they might cause a second big upset.



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