After being treated to almost a month of fine weather, the skies have opened in Bermuda as a front passes over the Atlantic archipelago dropping much-needed rain.
The downpour was preceded by a spectacular thunderstorm overnight, which provided some relief ahead of the real thing which has hit Bermuda two and a half hours ahead of the race start.
The forecast is for the second day of racing in the Challenger Final for the Louis Vuitton Trophy is confused.
‘Everything is on the table,’ said Race Director Iain Murray. ‘When the team forecasters are ringing us and saying ‘what do you know?’ I think that is indicative of the situation out there.’
Murray put up and overhead showing two weather sources predicting winds from the SW, and that was the thinking of the teams. However, as he spoke the wind was blowing at 20kts from the opposite direction – NE.
Currently, the breeze has dropped in strength but is still 6kts gusting 10kts from the NE – the right strength but opposite direction of the forecasts.
The cause of the uncertainty is a front set to pass over Bermuda – which is playing merry hell with the forecasters.
Predictwind.com, the weather forecasting application developed by Jon Bilger a forecaster for Alinghi, twice winner of the America’s Cup, puts the wind strength at 10-14kts at race start time. But that may change on the next update at a 1.00pm local time.
A lot hangs on today’s racing with Emirates Team New Zealand realising they came out of yesterday’s racing with a lucky 2-1 scorecard – after Artemis Racing’s Nathan Outteridge slipped over the side close to the end of Leg 5 – a beat to windward.
Emirates Team New Zealand sources were confident they would have got through the Swedish Challenger before reaching Mark 5 anyway. The two AC50’s were engaged in a furious tacking duel – a point of real advantage for Emirates Team New Zealand with its cycle powered grinders providing plenty of ‘oil’ or hydraulic pressure to run the on-board functions and the power hungry daggerboard raising and lowering function in particular.
While Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill may criticise the Kiwis for not haveing a dedicated tactician in their afterguard, the Kiwi do have a dedicated crew member, Blair Tuke on daggerboard adjustment, rather than having this done by the helmsman through wheel buttons.
The first race of the day, yesterday was marked by yet another incidence of Artemis Racing sailing outside a virtual boundary and incurring the mandatory two boat length astern penalty.
At media conferences, the crew often like to blame the umpires or wind shifts for the error – however Chief Umpire Richard Slater explained this morning that the crews aren’t just relying on spotting their position on an iPad screen.
‘Two hundred metres from the boundary, the warning light starts to slow flash. At 100 metres from the boundary it speeds up, and at the Zone, it goes even faster – and the green light goes on on the yacht – that is at four boat lengths distant.’
The flashing lights are in a position forward of the crew, and it is difficult to understand how they can be missed with the frequency that occurs. One explanation is that the crews get caught by a combination of a wind shift advancing them at a faster rate than expected, and not having sufficient oil to undertake the tack or gybe.
Chief Umpire Richard Slater said that the teams had voted on these rules 17 times. ‘The teams understand the significance of the rules, and also that we cannot just sit there and say ‘we are not going to penalise you because you only just went outside the boundary.’ The question then becomes ‘how far out do I have to go before you start penalising?’ The simplest is to say ‘that is the line – that is the rule’, Slater added.
Rigging interpretation about-face
A curious re-interpretation of a measurement rule regarding shroud tension was raised by Sail-World at today’s media conference.
The new interpretation came just four days after the first, which said that all stays had to be under tension. The re-interpretation says that they don’t, and can be slack.
The first interpretation was given on May 20, 2017, and the second four days later on May 24, just before the Qualifiers started.
Class ‘Rule 25.11 requires rigging to be tensioned and therefore slack, or un-tensioned rigging does not comply with the AC Class Rule,’ said the original interpretation in its Preamble. In its original interpretation, the Measurement Committee went further and defined ‘tensioned’ to mean at least hand tension.
The second interpretation published four days later said: ‘It is permitted for some rigging elements to be left slack and the amount of slack is not regulated.’
There was no change in the class rule in the intervening period.
The effect of the interpretation change, according to Oracle Team USA-related sources is significant.
When asked to put his designer’s hat on and comment on the effects of the re-interpretation, Race Director Iain Murray said ‘there are all sorts of considerations – there’s the bend and twist in the mast, there is the position of the mast, and there is rack and twist in the hull and platform.’
He noted that the Measurement Committee members were selected by voting from all the teams. A few days before the start of the 35th America’s Cup Regatta it was announced that World Sailing, the governing body for sailing had approved the Measurement Committee as having the ability to make decisions without being subject to oversight by the Regatta Jury, as would normally be the case in an international sailing championship.
More to come on this one.
by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/NZ