Saturday, May 19, 2007

Louis Vuitton Cup - Semifinals - Day 5: Preview

Good morning from Valencia, where the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals are getting more exciting and popular by the day. The picture at the bottom of this article clearly illustrates the ambiance among yesterday's huge spectator fleet. It looked like rush hour in midtown Manhattan rather than a sailing race. This weekend is expected to be even more crowded and only a minority of these spectator boats are related to the organization of the event. Most of them are simply Spanish private yachts that spend a nice day on water watching the world's oldest sailing competition and are now joined by an increasingly populated armada of Italian yachts that flock to Valencia to cheer Luna Rossa.

Italians have all the reasons to be happy with Luna Rossa leading BMW Oracle by 3 to 1. The Italian team has prevailed in the prestarts, is faster upwind and apparently its speed disadvantage downwind has gotten smaller. According to Paul Cayard, "one interesting thing about BMW Oracle, after Tuesday's serious starting lesson at the hands of Spithill, Dickson put a larger rudder in his boat. Now with the added wetted surface, the American boat seems slower downwind which was their point of strength in the first two races."

Nevertheless, it is obviously too early to write off the Challenger of Record and according to their public declarations the mood is positive in the base and they will go out and sail hard to win each and every match and the semifinal. For them it's "business as usual". As we are writing this (10:30am), USA-98 is already in the water, much earlier than the other semifinalists, while the mast of USA-87 was taken off an hour ago.

Concerning the other semifinalist couple, Desafío Español has a more difficult task against Emirates Team NZ. It seems difficult to repeat the spectacular win against the kiwis in the third match.

One thing is for sure, each day we are more eager to go out and watch the races. The show is guaranteed.

Today, the order of the two matches rotates once again as do the entry sides in the prestart box. The first match, starting at 3pm, will be Luna Rossa against BMW Oracle, while Emirates Team NZ and Desafío Español will face each other 10 minutes later, at 3:10pm.

Weather forecast
Fortunately, every day that passes the weather forecast is getting more repetitive and boring. It is going to be another sea breeze day but slightly stronger, warm and dry but with some high cloud cover. Event organizers see a weak low pressure that continues to drive southerly gradient breeze which in turn helps to boost sea breeze. Wind is expected to start at 6 knots east and increase to 12-14 while backing to East-southeast as sea breeze develops.

Two coast guards with whistles pushing spectator boats away!! It looked like rush hour in midtown Manhattan rather than the spectator fleet of a sailing race.