over and out
Wow. The 33rd America’s Cup is over! I seriously cannot believe it. BMW Oracle won 2-0, and the America’s Cup is coming back to America for the first time since 1995!!! (when Russell Coutts first won it as the skipper of Team NZL)
As for the write-up of today: First, I’ll have to say the SA team has made it home safely from the massive celebration at the BMW ORACLE base. Since Mer and Clean left for their hotel, Petey went straight to bed (as he didn’t sleep last night because he was working), Aaron passed out on the couch, which left JC and I to heat up frozen pizza for our dinner (which was also simultaneously today’s lunch…?). Regardless, we had an awesome day today, and nice work to all involved for making it all possible. Some other interesting things happened tonight, including me asking a question of each team in each of their press conferences, but more on that at the end of this article
Race 2 Recap (and our live viewing/commentary here):
Alinghi Pre-start Error: Today we saw Ernesto and Alinghi’s team inside the H at the 5 minute gun in the pre-start, thus they were penalized. I called it an unforced error, but in the press conference afterwards Brad blamed it on the big rush to start the race (at 4:20 PM before the 4:30 PM cutoff race time), hence Alinghi was still pinging the ends of the line and were still inside the box at the 5 minute entry time. I think Butterworth’s exact quote was “we got a nice penalty for free so we were two for two” (as in pre-start penalties-g). “We like to be even numbers, so that is good”. We thus saw BMW Oracle enter from port and cross to leeward easily, while Alinghi was late to enter from the starboard side.
Approaching the Start Line: After a little while Alinghi gybed back for the start line and BMW Oracle followed. As the behind boat, they had the open choice if they wanted the right just to overlap to windward of Alinghi and tack for the committee boat, or if they wanted the left to overlap to leeward of Alinghi and force them to tack off, thus winning the pin. We saw the latter develop, with BMW Oracle hooking to leeward of Alinghi, forcing Alinghi to tack away and therefore have a slow start, almost stalled, tacking away to the boat end. I believe BMW ORACLE crossed the start line 25 seconds ahead, heading left, while Alinghi crossed later heading to the right.
Upwind: Although BMW Oracle initially lead the race, placing a consolidating tack onto port to cover Alinghi off the start, Alinghi got a nice right hand shift with pressure and was able to tack over onto Starboard ahead of BMW Oracle. My question then was whether BMW Oracle would try to cross over to the right to protect starboard advantage, thinking that safer since Alinghi had a penalty, or whether they would be concerned that Alinghi might then force an upwind dial-up and try to offset their penalty from the prestart. The other factor to consider was that BMW Oracle has the Racer’s Edge Wind Sensor on board; and since we had already seen them go for the left at the pre start/start, they might want to protect left again if they saw better pressure/shift that way. As it turned out, BMW Oracle tacked to leeward and protected left with a relatively big separation, although Alinghi initially continued gaining on the LONG starboard upwind, to a max lead of 600 meters.
After some speculation on our end about whether BMW Oracle should initiate a tacking duel, whether Alinghi would be able to gain enough distance to spin their penalty at the finish, or whether their might be an upwind dial-up; we actually then just saw BMW Oracle tack directly on layline in a big left shift, making up a lot of their distance and forcing Alinghi to cross them and then tack instead of tacking directly in front. Props to John Kostecki the tactician and/or the navigator Matteo Plazzi for that layline call, because that was the race winner. Alinghi crossed over BMW Oracle, then tacked, with little enough distance that they fell behind through the maneuver, and BMW Oracle rounded the weather mark 28 seconds ahead and extended their lead on the two reaches, for another runaway victory, while Alinghi approached the finish line in race two again with a penalty.
Go the wing? For BMW ORACLE supporters, the biggest surprise might have been the fact that Alinghi was able to catch up and pass on the upwind, and even extend to a lead of over 600 meters in the right shift. It was looking sketchy, and there were doubts as to whether Dogzilla and the wing were really faster at all, or whether it had just been teamwork/trimming/engine/helmsman error for Alinghi on day one. Let’s assume that BMW Oracle didn’t keep the racing close just for show, in which case Alinghi really did give them a run for their money in terms of speed on the upwind today, and if only they had had a lot of factors going better for them (like more time in the boat together, no pre-start penalty, and less of a disadvantage off the start line caused by perhaps a higher speed tack) then maybe they would have had a really good race on their hands. As it was all of those things plus the layline situation lead to Alinghi being behind at the weather mark, and with BMW Oracle’s speed on the reaches it was a game over from there.
Redress Flag: I don’t even want to discuss the redress flag that was pulled out by Alinghi on the upwind leg, but as it was a cause of such debate and stress on our program and for many of our viewers, I’ll at least address it. Alinghi pulled out their redress flag halfway up the upwind leg, presumably for their penalty in the prestart. Thankfully Brad Butterworth said in the press conference that the match wasn’t won or lost because of it, and BMW Oracle was just so much faster, that they decided not to go through with the redress. Good on them, for really going through with what Ernesto said a couple months ago about winning this cup on the water. I was deathly afraid of seeing this Cup horribly scarred by yet another litigating situation!
Press Conferences: Since I’m typically a racer myself and on the other side of the media/PR, I learned a lot this week about what happens on the other end of the camera and the backside of journalism. I also learned tonight what it’s like to be in a big press conference, and that if you have a good question you want to ask it doesn’t matter that you’re not a known journalist just go ahead and ask it. I was able to ask Ernesto and Brad what in their opinion Golden Gate YC and BMW Oracle Racing Team could do for them to want to be involved with the next edition of the America’s Cup. After Brad muttered “stop suing us”, Ernesto answered basically that the type of boats will matter for him, and that after these great multihulls something like the version 5s will be a big step back. When I then asked what boats the BMW Oracle Racing team thought they would use and if they’d like to see Alinghi as a challenger, Russell answered, of course they’d like to race Alinghi again, and that the boats would be chosen by mutual consent.
Challenger of Record: Speaking of mutual consent, the word on SA for the past week and here for the past day or two has been that Mascalzone Latino will be the Challenger of Record. While Larry wouldn’t explicitly say that in the press conference, he did state that Vincenzo was a good friend who never lies. From the interview that we got with Vincenzo last night and the number of Latin Rascals we saw around the BMW Oracle base today, we weren’t surprised one bit. Should be a great pair and let’s only hope they can put together a fabulous 34th edition of the AC.
While we may never see such wonderful feats of design, technology, and sailing in the America’s Cup again (or at least soon), we have to be happy that the legal wrangling days are behind us and we can get on the races. With multi-challengers, mutual consent, an impartial jury and race committee, and all those other things that we typically take for granted in sailboat racing. Thank you Deed of Gift Match—for providing such a spectacle this week! Now I can only hope to see the next match in my current home waters of San Francisco…
Well sailed to both teams, and happy days for the future of the BMW Oracle Racing Team, and the many Americans who can’t wait to see the America’s Cup back on US soil!
All for now,
-Genny Tulloch. Photo thanks to Jesús Renedo.