that’s a wrap
Today we saw many things we expected, and perhaps many more we did not. We saw Jimmy Spithill draw a penalty in the pre-start like we knew he was capable of, proving his nickname of ‘Pitbull’—a name which he garnered actually racing against BMW Oracle in the last Cup when he drew two penalties in one prestart against Chris Dickson (ultimately leading to Dickson being fired and replaced by RC as CEO and Jimmy as helm…). So today’s dial-up and ensuing penalty was somewhat to be expected, or at least wasn’t too surprising.
The interesting and completely unexpected part of the pre-start was that we actually saw Alinghi come out of the start ahead (albeit with a penalty), by more than a minute and a half, because BMW Oracle was still stuck in irons when the gun went off. After entering and drawing the penalty BMW Oracle was in a semi-comfortable controlling position slightly to windward and behind, but had a tough time holding that spot for 3 minutes and carried a little too much speed initially, ultimately overlapping Alinghi. As the windward boat BMW Oracle tried to tack away, with their bowman Brad Webb backing the jib hard to port; but with less than a minute to go they ended up head to wind. Alinghi was able to bear off, circle the pin and start on port, while BMW Oracle was STILL stuck in irons, over the line, only able to get going and clear themselves a minute plus later. That was a big surprise. The word at the press release tonight says that they had a winch malfunction. Who knows, but that’s apparently the official line of reasoning for why the more maneuverable boat/wing was outmaneuvered (so badly!) by the soft sail.
We also saw the coming to fruition of the general opinion that this is truly just a design race, and that one boat would have a massive design advantage over the other. What we didn’t necessarily expect, at least in the rumor mill here, was that BMW Oracle would be the ones with that design advantage in under 8 knots. We’d heard good things about the wing, etc., but we had also heard that the crossover was 8 knots and anything under that would show the BMW Oracle trimaran lacking for power while the lake-designed, RAK optimized Alighi catamaran would dominate. All wrong. BMW Oracle was consistently higher and faster, and after having started behind and to leeward (by about 1 min 20 secs and more than 600 meters), they climbed up to windward and over the top of Alinghi in almost no time at all. What is 10 minutes in a 3 hour race course anyway? By the top mark BMWOracle was 3:21 ahead, only to extend that 1300 meter lead to more than 3000 meters very quickly, and keep that delta to the finish, which should have seen Alinghi about 9 minutes behind. (Except for the fact that they still had a penalty to do, which they did so poorly that they didn’t actually finish, so had to sail back up and finish again 6 minutes later with their jib already down).
What does this all mean? Unfortunately for Alinghi, it means that pigs gotta somehow learn to fly between now and Sunday. Seriously. We were not expecting Alinghi to look like such a pig of a boat in light air against BMW Oracle, yet at almost no time today did BMW Oracle struggle to fly both of their windward hulls while multiple times Alinghi couldn’t keep their one windward one out of the water. I know I’m from San Francisco and also that SA is banned from all things Alinghi, but today I didn’t even want to take that biased viewpiont. I really wanted Alinghi to be faster, to make it interesting in some way, to see if we could get some sort of tactical situation in which they would possibly be able to offset their penalty and give us a match. I kept thinking that maybe the perspectives were off, and BMW Oracle really hadn’t pulled that far ahead so quickly on the upwind, and that maybe Alinghi (to leeward and ahead for a short time) could actually talk over to starboard and cause an upwind dial-up offsetting penalty situation. Not the case. BMW Oracle won this one, running, no, galloping away. To the point where it seemed like they got a comfortable enough lead and then throttled back, just to stay somewhat in touch with the competition.
I can’t decide if I want to see another run away race on Sunday, or if I actually want to see a close match race. Maybe Alinghi deserves the worst, and Oracle should rip the America’s Cup right out of the hostile base that currently holds it but has exiled so many people from viewing it (me included!). Maybe their uncomfortable delayed finish today was enough humiliation. Awful for them to not actually complete their penalty turn on the course side, then to have to sail back upwind after dropping their jib and refinish again, almost 6 minutes after they first crossed the line—for an ultimate delta of over 15 minutes. Regardless, everyone’s got to keep their heads about them—Sunday is another day, albeit a ‘do or die’ race for Alinghi, but another race just the same. If you can call anything about these massive multihulls just another race.
ITBA-In The Bar Anarchy
Sorry that we weren’t out on the water to provide coverage, but our last minute bar setup seems to have proven possibly to be a much better alternative. We were able to actually watch the racing (as opposed to being too far away to see anything but even ‘the boats as ants on the screen’—our camerman Petey); we were able to stream live (which would be impossible for us 20 miles out, even though our web streaming guy Aaron tries his best it’s just way too far out of tower reach); we had flowing drinks (which Clean always needs), we got some great photo opps for Mer of the audience, and JC and I and Clean got to entertain a crowd (of mostly Spaniards) in a bar that had to start turning away people because it was too full, along with the online audience of fans. More on all this later, and let’s hope it works again on Sunday. We hear the best way to view the racing is with the video feed running in one window, and our feed as running as the audio in another, because no matter what happens we’re trying to keep it entertaining. Our coverage of the racing is linked here, with our promo/team intro beforehand that you can skip if you’d like.
So happy there was racing today, and that we’re now one step closer to the next iteration of the America’s Cup. I’m not saying it’s over, I’m just saying… –
Photo thanks to Kaufmann/Forster.