Thursday, June 21, 2007

48 hours till the America's Cup match; news roundup; what weather should we expect?

It's 3pm right now in Valencia and a mere 48 hours separate us from the 32nd America's Cup Match, the climax of more than 3 years of sailing in Valencia, Marseille, Trapani and Malmö. Back in September 2004, eleven teams started their long journey to challenge Alinghi and after a series of preliminary regattas and a difficult Louis Vuitton Cup, Emirates Team NZ is now the strongest and fittest to face the Defender.

The Louis Vuitton Cup final came to an earlier-than-expected end on June 6 and the last two weeks have been considerably calm. They were so calm indeed that there was hardly any news to write about, except probably some absurd rumors about Ernesto Bertarelli's refusal to allow the New Zealand "waka" accompany NZL-92 on their way out of Port America's Cup. Grant Dalton, managing director of Emirates Team NZ, stirred the waters with his TV interview where he stated that the team would establish some form of nationality limits if they were to win this America's Cup.

Only Alinghi provided some news during the week with a long battle confronting the America's Cup measurers, concerning a detail over the use of backstays during racing. They also announced yesterday evening the yacht they would use in the match. Against, what a number of media expected, they opted to use their latest yacht, SUI-100, and not SUI-91. The former has never officially raced before while the latter won Louis Vuitton Act 13 last April.

Still, one important issue that has been overlooked was the weather. What is the forecast for the next few days? What winds should we and the crews aboard SUI-100 and NZL-92 expect off the Malvarosa beach? Today is of course the day summer officially begins in the northern hemisphere and if we were a tourist website everything would appear to be rosy. It's getting hotter, day temperatures reach 32 degrees while overnight the minimum doesn't drop below 23 degrees. There isn't a single cloud in sight and water temperature during the day reaches 21.5 degrees.

Under these typical summer conditions the much-awaited Valencia breeze has established itself during the last couple of days. After all, Alinghi chose this city because of its reliable sea breeze during exactly this two-week period. Still, one shouldn't expect to be blown off by a hurricane. The daily range has been between 9 and 13 knots, in the 3-hour period between 3pm and 6pm. Typically it should start from the east and shift to the right, becoming a southeasterly.

According to the current forecasts and most of the specialists we talked to this is what we should expect, at least during the weekend. Meteorology is a very inexact science and has proved to be erroneous various times during the last 3 months. It is difficult to make a precise prediction further into the future but the general pattern shouldn't radically change.

ClearPoint satellite and front image on 21 June 2007

The obvious question is what boat performs better in that wind range, SUI-100 or NZL-92? According to off the record opinions in Port America's Cup, SUI-91 is faster than NZL-92 in the 11-13 knot range and SUI-100 is supposed to be even faster than her older sister.

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