Friday, January 08, 2010

BMW Oracle Press Conference - Valencia - 8 Jan 2010

Related Audio FileBMW Oracle press conference - Valencia, 8 Jan 2010
Greetings from cold and wintry Valencia. After many years, probably a good 15 years, it snowed in downtown Valencia early on Friday morning as the Mediterranean city woke up during an unexpected snowfall. There was a public warning during the last 2-3 days that snow could fall up to 20-30 km from the city but it was a surprise to see the white flakes falling on the Malvarosa beach. If the 33rd America's Cup was to start exactly a month before the scheduled day, not only would it have been the most spectacular it would surely have been the whitest one. We will have to check Bob Fisher's bible on the world's oldest sports trophy to see whether there has been snow in any of the 32 previous editions.

Given these harsh wintry conditions it didn't come as a surprise to learn once we got in the BMW Oracle base that the team's CEO, Russell Coutts, wouldn't be talking to us because he was bedridden with a terrible cold. As a result, it was the team's Australian helmsman and match-racing supremo, James Spithill, that went through the challenges of sailing their giant trimaran BOR 90. With him were Manolo Ruiz de Elvira and Joseph Ozanne, members of the design team.

Another noticeable absence today was Tom Ehman, the team's head of External Affairs and usual master of ceremonies of all the press conferences and presentations BMW Oracle carries out. Instead, it was Tim Jeffery, the newly-appointed Director of Communications, that conducted the press conference. Ehman is currently in the United States, together with BMW Oracle's legal team in order to further investigate on Alinghi's sails. As Jeffery stated, they have "very serious concerns" about the sails Alinghi is using on their yacht, which they have also publicly raised by asking the five-member International Jury recently appointed by the International Sailing Federation to rule on the matter. Ehman will soon leave the US and fly to Singapore in order to meet with Alinghi and the Chairman of the international jury, David Tillett.

Should we expect further legal action from BMW Oracle on that issue? Is Ehman's presence in the US a sign that such action is imminent? According to BMW Oracle, the sails currently used on Alinghi 5 have been made in Nevada and not Switzerland, as required by the Deed of Gift. In addition, Jeffery stated that Alinghi has been warned by his team, more than a year ago, that they would be taking a perilous path should they go on and make these sails in the USA.

From left, Joseph Ozanne, Manolo Ruiz de Elvira and James Spithill. Valencia, 8 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

As for the press conference itself, we didn't get any wiser, although a private chat afterwards with Joseph Ouzanne, the French "father" of the wing sail, was very instructive. The best part of it focused on explaining why we will probably never see BOR 90, their giant trimaran inside Port America's Cup, or darsena (basin), the Spanish term often used by all, even if this is obligatory as per the Notice of Race.

All four men, Spithill, Jeffery, Elvira and Ouzanne went to great lengths explaining how difficult and dangerous is to maneuver the giant trimaran with the wing sail on it. The safety of the yacht as well as her crew could be endangered. The 600 square meters of wing sail produce huge forces even with a very light breeze and small angle against the wind. According to Ozanne, BOR 90 with the wing sail on can reach 10 knots of speed in a matter of seconds and when you move at 5 meters per second, even a reaction time of 1-2 seconds can prove crucial.

Both Spithill and Elvira insisted that Alinghi would never go in or out of the darsena with Alinghi 5 having her sails hoisted. Conventional sails are hoisted and lowered always outside of the darsena. Even if they manage to enter the interior basin with the wing sail on it could then prove to be impossible to get out safely and on time. BOR 90 is approximately 30 meters wide and the canal 70 meters, so a gust could wreak havoc. In comparison, the entrance of the commercial port where their current temporary base is located, is more than 500 meters wide.

Even assuming the yacht entered the interior basin, another major safety issue would be maneuvering inside. As Ouzanne stated, at the top of 60-meter high mast wind speed in considerably higher than on water surface, so it is necessary to lower it almost parallel to water surface. Adding the necessary safety margin on top of the 60 meters of the mast, the yacht requires a a radius of approximately 150 meters around her, clear of any obstacles. All these conditions are clearly not satisfied inside Port America's Cup, according to Spithill, and for that reason his team will continue operating from the temporary base in the commercial port.

James Spithill talks to the local media. Valencia, 8 January 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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13 Comments:

At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They all look quite unhappy!
Why? Because they are forced by her master to sail in wintry conditions instead of warm and sunny RAK?

 
At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pues si es obligatorio estar en la darsena por el Aviso de Regata y no comparecen los veo descalificados en todas las regatas. Problema serio.

 
At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ningún anuncio de regata obliga a amarrar en ningún sitio. Lo importante es estar en el starting box o en las inmediaciones de la linea de salida a la señal de atención, y tomar la salida reglamentariamente. Lo que sí es IMPORTANTE es cumplir con el Deed of Gift de la AC, y presentar casco, mástil y velas construidas en el país del club bajo cuya bandera se compite. CIC compliant in English, serious problem, ein????

 
At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not than unhappy as Ernesto is (screwed by hinself in the four corners of Deed of Gift). But don't worry, in February in VLC sun will shine and wind will blow conveniently to show who is the best boat ...

 
At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Para 5:23 PM
Eso tambien fue asi en la 32 y en la 31 ¿verdad?

 
At 6:38 PM, Blogger Norby said...

para el anon de las 6:26pm - sabes lo que significa la expresion "mutuo consenso" ("mutual consense" en ingles)? pues esa es la exacta diferencia entre las ac 31 y 32 y la ac 33. anda a leer algo sobre la ac antes de escribir boludeses en la web.

 
At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

para 6:38 PM
Norby...mutuo consenso no ha habido nunca en la AC. El Defensor ha impuesto sus reglas y los Desafiantes lo tenian que acatar si o si.
Yo tambien te mandaria a leer sobre la historia de la AC pero sin insultar y sin acritud.

 
At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wasn't Alinghis idea to sail in Valencia...

 
At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It wasn't Alinghis idea to sail in Valencia..."

I respectfully disgaree

"Alinghi put the hosting rights out to a competitive bid ..... On November 27, 2003 it was announced that the venue would be Valencia, Spain."

Agreed that Alinghi wanted to change their mind on venue for the DOG AC33 - but SNGALINGHI named Valencia when they published the AC33 protocol, and their legal counsel agreed to it their draft settle orders to the NY courts and agreed to it in court...

 
At 8:38 PM, Anonymous hairy said...

so whose going to start a book on who is going to win on the water ignoring all future litagation

 
At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry but I can not understand that it is on Alinghi to change the NoR in that point of moring at the AC harbour or the Desenia? bassin just because BMW-O says that they are not able the move their Tri with the Wing up thought the 70 m wide canal.

The canal at the Valencia harbour exits longer than the Wing. BMW-O had lot of time to include that fact into their plans as they forced Valencia as the place for the 33th AC.

And as European I am happy with Valencia as place for this upcoming Battle of the Monsters.

 
At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coutts is always sick. He's a chicken. ANd Ehman is a liar as he said they wanted to be in the Darsena.

Conclusion; nothing new on the BOR front.

 
At 12:30 PM, Blogger Ramon said...

No wonder Oracle fears Valencia's America Cup harbour entrance passage: How do they remove "wing area" at a decent breeze with abaft wind? This is why a sailing boat has sails and not wings....

 

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