Friday, June 01, 2007

Louis Vuitton Cup - Finals - Day 1: Preview

Good morning from sunny Valencia. The sky is blue with a few scattered clouds and it should be a good early June day. The end of the 32nd America's Cup is now closing in on us as we start today with the first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup finals, facing Italy's Luna Rossa against Emirates Team NZ.

Yesterday's press conference was really a non-event. Instead of the expected skippers, Francesco de Angelis and Dean Barker, it was attended by Andy Horton, afterguard of Luna Rossa, and Terry Hutchinson, tactician of Emirates Team NZ. Both, repeatedly, talked about the difficulty of the upcoming races, the respect they had for their rivals or how close racing would probably be.

The issue of the New Zealanders racing against Alinghi on the eve of the finals was also brought up but did not stir up spirits. Alinghi and Emirates Team NZ met on Wednesday on the north race area in order to practice prestarts and carry out two half-finished races. Neither of the teams were using their latest yachts (NZL-92 and SUI-100) but instead they practiced aboard NZL-84 and SUI-91, helmed by Dean Barker and Ed Baird, respectively. Both Horton and Hutchinson gave very little importance (at least publicly) to that issue. For Emirates Team NZ, it was the only opportunity to practice against a strong team (the only one left in any case) while according to Horton, Luna Rossa did not feel intimidated by this.

In any case, we will go out on the water expecting a very close race each and every day. If it wasn't that way in such a stage then one of the two teams would have a problem. Is it going to finish 5-0 or 5-4? Both are possible but highly improbable.

History is one the side of the New Zealanders. Since the two teams started their odyssey of the 32nd America's Cup, almost 3 years ago, they have met 9 times and Emirates Team NZ were victorious in 6 of the races. Still, if the past were to predict the outcome of the races, Luna Rossa shouldn't be here but instead a victorious BMW Oracle would be about to face the kiwis. More recently, in the Louis Vuitton Cup round robins, Italians and New Zealanders met twice, each team winning one race. Both teams have officially declared they would use the same yachts they raced in the semifinals, ITA-94 and NZL-92, and according to the Race Committee website, both of them received measurement certificates on Thursday.

Don't forget that since the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals, racing starts at 3pm Valencia time and the first warning signal is given 10 minutes before that, at 14:50pm.

Weather forecast
According to the official weather forecast, it is going to be a sea breeze day and the high cloud cover will break up during the afternoon. Winds are expected to start with a northeasterly gradient breeze early in the day which will then give way to a southeasterly sea breeze 12-14 knots during the afternoon. In general it is expected to be an overcast day at the start and then clear later. It's going to be dry and maximum temperature will reach 25 degrees.

Some Kiwi history, KZ7 "Plastic Fantastic"
New Zealand began its quest for the "Auld Mug" 20 years ago, in 1987 at Fremantle, Australia. Backed by Sir Michael Fay, the Kiwi challenge advanced past the opening rounds, but ultimately was unsuccessful. Despite the lack of victory, the Kiwi challenge raised eyebrows because they pioneered the use of fiberglass on their boat KZ7. This was the beginning of a long line of innovations New Zealand teams would bring to the America's Cup in the years to come.

KZ7 is right now at Valencia's yacht club where the final touches are being put in order to have her ready to sail in a couple of days. Will KZ7 bring luck to NZL-92?

KZ7 in Valencia's yacht club. Valencia, 30 May 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

KZ7 in Valencia's yacht club. Valencia, 30 May 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

Shosholoza's crew scrubbing the bottom of KZ7. Who knows, this could be part of Captain Sarno's punishment for not making the semifinals. Instead of walking barefoot to Cape Town they could scrub all yachts in the club. Valencia, 30 May 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing



At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Tom said...


If you have the time it would be fun to see more of the boats at the yacht club area including the other 12 meters, the TP 52s and shots of the Alinghi boat (I assume that's SUI 64 in the background) hanging around that area of Valencia. As the number of syndicates involved in the LV/AC wanes it's fun to see what else is just getting warmed up.




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