Well, one thing’s for sure. After today’s racing we already have a winner – the betting industry. All those bets of 7-0; 7-1 and 7-2 are now safely in the pockets of the bookmakers. The whitewash of the loser only getting a compensating win or two on the Hauraki Gulf is behind us after just 3 days of racing.
And of course, it was the weekend AND of course COVID threat level was down to Level 1 so the crowds were out in force, at the dock out, at the race village and of course the flotilla of spectator craft had grown even further with hundreds (perhaps thousands) of craft of all shapes and sizes carrying even more thousands of enthusiastic AC fans and or people out for a fun day on the water.
In fact the first race was delayed slightly as a couple of the spectator boats had strayed on to the race course.
Hauraki means ‘North Wind’ in Maori and that’s the main direction we got today although not a great deal of it, definitely conditions that suited Luna Rossa’s configuration.
Match racing is all about getting in front and then staying between the next mark or gate. Do it at the start and it is even better. Well in Race 1 of the day, race 5 of the series, ETNZ dropped off her foils so while the Italians were heading off upwind they were on a reach trying to build speed to jump up on their foils. That was it, basically game over almost before it had begun. Interestingly though, when ETNZ were chasing they held on pretty well, in fact on one upwind leg took 4 seconds out of LRPP.
Interestingly though, with the win, Luna Rossa’s Jimmy Spithill’s statement in the previous days press conference that all the wins until then coming to the port tack entering boat was just coincidence was proven as they entered on starboard and went on to win by 18 seconds.
So on to race 2
Once again the ‘port entry wins’ was thrown out the window with this time the Italians (port entry) suffering a downspeed moment. Freddie Carr noticed that the LRPP mainsail didn’t immediately ‘pop’. In the post race conversations Jimmy Spithill was naturally tight lipped whether this was caused by a wind hole or gear problem but the end result of their misfortune was Te Herutai left the start line like a relative bullet and an early 50m lead which just extended and extended. This team, when they have clear air and can get in their own ‘groove’ are on a fast boat. By the finish line they were over 1.4Km ahead of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.
SO at the end of three days of racing the teams are dead level on 3-3. Or are they dead level? The Italian victories have been by much closer margins with the Kiwis demolishing the Italians in Race 6 by 1 minute 41 seconds.
I can’t help but think (theorize perhaps) that if the breeze comes up just 2 or three knots towards the zone where the New Zealand boat is favored then the racing may take on a different perspective. It would provide less down speed risk for the smaller foils on ETNZ and allow her to sail higher angles without the risk of dropping off those foils along with the obvious advantage of lower drag. Add to that Peter Burling and the crew do appear to be getting sharper as they put the 3 months without racing further and further behind them.
I feel I have to defend my statement of yesterday which the Editor disagreed with (we are not in each other’s pockets ☺) One needs to remember that not everyone watching is a sailor. In fact many are not and the fill is required to keep those none sailors involved. The feed is going out through multiple channels. For example in China it is going out – simultaneously translated – through 9 channels to a live audience that at times hits 200,000 which is probably around 10 times how many sailors are in the whole country. Youtube is not available in every country – far from it – so quoting their figures as a poor viewership are irrelevant, I know I had quite a search to find a server in a country where all I got was “The video is not available in your country”.
I am sure the thousands of local Kiwis gathered at all the various vantage points today are hoping that the Gods of Aotearoa will let the Hauraki blow a little stronger over the next few days.
As Glen Ashby said after racing today “The Regatta starts tomorrow”. – SS.