33rd America's Cup - Day 1: No wind, no race
The 33rd America's Cup didn't start with a bang. The light and unstable winds forced the race committee to cancel Monday's races, after the two yachts had spent more than 6 hours drifting around the coast of Valencia.
As Chris Bedford, BMW Oracle meteorologist, jokingly commented, the race committee did a great job in putting them in the middle of two different breezes, pretty much assuring that nothing would happen. The main pattern today off Valencia was of a southerly breeze well offshore that was ocasionally filtering in at the start area and a westerly breeze ahsore.
The westerly breeze had puffs of up to 14 knots and was stable for a fair amount of time at the weather mark. There was pressure trying to make it up the course but the convergence of the two breezes made it impossible to build a breeze strong enough up the 20-mile course to set a proper course. In addition, despite the immense size of the race area it would have probably been impossible to set a fair course. At 10am conditions were marginally close to allow a race but they never materialized. There was a nice southweserly breeze in the southern part of the race area but it never made it to the race committee boat.
Alinghi 5 and USA drifting around, waiting for the breeze. Valencia, 8 February 2010. Photo copyright Carlo Borlenghi / Alinghi
Since no racing was held on Monday, the 1st race of the 33rd America's Cup is now scheduled for Wednesday. Unfortunately, the forecast for that day isn't very encouraging either. A low pressure area is developing over central Spain, to the northwest of Valencia and will move off the coast on Monday night. Behind that area, a very strong westerly flow will come on Monday night and last through Tuesday and probably early Wednesday. Valencia will not be much affected but Bedford expects more waves as a big swell will be coming from the norheast. So, on Wednesday we will be in a waning westerly that might turn into a seabreeze in the afternoon, according to Bedford.
The nature of this America's Cup, a Deed-of-Gift race, makes it much more difficult to set a fair course. According to Bedford, it is a big task to have a consistent wind direction over 20 miles, not only in Valencia, but in many places throughout the world, especially when we are so close to the coast. There is fairly high terrain to the south-southwest of Valencia and a valley that create two different breezes. If we were to have a 5-mile race today, there could have been different areas to hold a fair race but with 20 miles it becomes fairly complicated.
At least, for once, there was one thing the two teams agreed upon. It was Harold Bennett's, Principal Race Officer, decision to call off racing at 1:45pm, almost 3 hours before the limit time, since it was apparent there wasn't going to be any improvement in conditions.
Jack Katzfey, Alinghi meteorologist, comments on Monday's frustrating conditions. Valencia, 8 February 2010. Video copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing