Sunday, February 7, 2010

Update #4 from Valencia

By Paul Cayard
Sunday, February 07, 2010

With very light winds on the Mediterranean Sea and less than 24 hours to the start of Race 1 of the 33rd Ameirca's cup, both Alinghi V and BMW Oracle were keen to get out on the water and make final preparations.

I was invited to the BMW Oracle base at 0730 to observe the wing raising operation. Operation is the key word here. It took about 2 hours from the time the wing started to move out from its shed until it was vertical on the "platform" (French for the boat). The conditions were good for the "operation"; very light wind and no sea in the harbor. Basically the wing is attached to the platform, while virtually horizontal, with the help of a crane. The wing, still horizontal, is then supported by block and tackle attached to a relatively short pole, vertically mounted on the platform and then the crane is disconnected. Next, the platform with the wing attached, is moved out to a mooring. Once on the mooring the wing is raised by using the onboard motor to drive the winches, while slowly raising the wing. See the enclosed photos.

The sunrise was spectacular this morning with red clouds, providing incredible lighting for the wing operation. The whole scene was surreal for me. The time of day, the lighting, the wing and the fact that in 24 hours time, these two beasts would be facing off against eachother.

I had a chance to talk to Skipper James Spithill while the boat was being rigged. James had some very interesting insight to the wing and the foils and how they are used on the boat. It made me think back to 1986 and our radical 12 meter USA and all that we sailors learned from that project. This Cup will no doubt be a huge addition to the technical competence of all involved on both sides. Then Larry Ellison walked into the compound, all suited up with plenty of clothes on as he was heading out for a sail. He was very friendly to me as we spent at least 15 minutes chatting about this Cup, the future of the Cup and the RC 44's which he loves too. I hadn't talked to him for that long since we spent a week racing the Trans-Pac together in 1995. He seemed really excited about the technology of this Cup and their chances of winning.

At 1200 as Alinghi V glided out of the America's Cup Harbor under tow, there was a large crowd on hand, possibly 5000 people. Just as in 2007, a large Italian contingency is here. I could not help but wonder, once again, how big the America's Cup would be if it ever held in Italy.

The Defender made a few more adjustments to the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions today. There are some great people here on the race committee, jury, umpires and measurement committees. The best in their sector! These people get too little credit for what they do, mostly off camera. My guess is that there will be some post race measurement checks initiated by the measurer and there may event be a measurement protest tomorrow. If there are measurement protests, they will be known before the boats enter the starting box, at the 5 minute gun.

The forecast for tomorrow is very light westerly winds in the morning, shifting to the south and increasing a bit....maybe up to 10 knots. There is a chance the race committee will postpone ashore, waiting for better conditions.

Enjoy the Super Bowl!