July 12, 2013

Finally, a Real Louis Vuitton Race

Seen here during a recent practice session, LRC and ETNZ will go at it for real Saturday unless the wind pipes up over 20 knots.

© 2013 Gilles Martin-Raget

The International Jury has ruled that America’s Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray, as respected a sailor as he might be, overstepped his authority when he changed some of the regatta rules recently, even though he believed he had done so in the interests of participant safety.

This was an off-the-water victory for Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge. The Kiwis were so magnanimous that they said they would be happy if hapless Artemis Racing, which still hasn’t launched its second-generation AC72, got special dispensation and was allowed to use the now-outlawed larger rudder elevators (stabilizers) to control the pitch of their cat. Nothing like being the object of pity, is there? Artemis had said that if they lost the ruling, they wouldn’t have a boat to race. But having spent tens of millions of dollars on their AC campaign, they now sound as though they might eventually be able to make it onto the course for a few races with a legal boat.

Of the four boats slated to compete in this year’s AC races, LRC and ETNZ are the most similar.

© Gilles Martin-Raget

Some had claimed that Murray’s augmentation of the rules seemed to have been tailor-made for the defender, Oracle Team USA. In any case, the San Francisco-based team says they are ready to compete in the America’s Cup Finals starting on September 7 with a boat that complies with the class rules. There’s nothing like having both a little extra time and money on your side.

The bottom line is that after the embarrassment of two Kiwi and one Italian wins so far in Louis Vuitton Races where neither team had an opponent, we’re finally going to have a AC72 versus AC72 race on Saturday between the Kiwis and the Italians. The much more polished and experienced Kiwis (ETNZ) are expected to clobber the Italians (LRC), although it should be fun to watch, as this will be America’s Cup racing as it’s never been before. It would be nice if, just prior to the start, all sailing fans could take a minute to pray that there won’t be a high-speed regatta-ending collision between the two 72s, as that would be about the last straw for an event that’s already had too many troubles.

Meanwhile, Artemis’ second-generation hull is out of the shed and ready to begin structural testing.

© 2013 Sander van der Borch

Emirates Team New Zealand is slated to race Luna Rossa at 12:15 p.m. tomorrow in the first contest of Louis Vuitton Cup’s Round Robin 2. (See the live feed on YouTube.) Defender Oracle’s newest boat will likely be seen on the course tomorrow also, as they are allotted ‘defender access’ from 11:30 to noon and 1:30 to 2 p.m. On Saturday, ETNZ will run the course again uncontested, as they are scheduled to race Artemis.

The TransPac Black Queen to Be Dealt Twice?

No matter how fast a racing boat you have, there’s a big element of luck in doing well for overall honors in the Los Angeles to Honolulu TransPac. If you get away from the coast in a rare great breeze — as did divisions 7 and 8 — you can be golden compared to those who start in light and variable winds — which happened to yesterday’s starters. Tomorrow’s starters aren’t looking at the best getaway conditions either. 

At last report, many of Thursday’s starters reported they were sailing in 10 knots or less of wind, and not getting anywhere fast. Meanwhile, the S&S 52 Dorade, which started on Monday, was hundreds of miles down the course and sailing in 18 to 20 knots of wind, which are ideal conditions for her. As a result, all but one boat in divisions 7 and 8 is ahead of every boat in divisions 4, 5, and 6. While there is still a long way to go, the 7 and 8 division boats are unlikely to get skunked by the breeze the rest of the way to Honolulu like the 4, 5 and 6 boats did getting away from the coast.

Fleets 7 and 8 were able to beat feet across the course in the few days before the faster boats started in light wind. More of the light stuff is forecast for tomorrow’s final starts.

© TransPac Race

The top three spots in fleet are currently held by Ron Simonson’s 22-year-old Jeanneau 44 Sleeper from Redondo Beach; Matt Brooks’ Fremont and St. Francis YC-based S&S 52 Dorade, which won the TransPac in 1930 (!); and Sam and Willi Belli’s Lapworth 52 Westward, which was built in 1960. We’re pulling for the woodies to pull an all-time TransPac upset.

It looks like it will be a lightish air start tomorrow for the fastest monohulls and the multihulls, but they don’t need much wind to reach hull speed quickly. Things are going to get interesting fast, and you can follow the action best on the TransPac website and the live tracker.

DDDers Invited to a BBQ

If you’re one of the nearly 100 boats signed up for this year’s Delta Doo Dah DIY, you should know that the Sacramento Delta Bay Marina near Isleton is inviting you to a special Doo Dah BBQ on July 20 from 1-3 p.m. All DDD participants get into the BBQ for free and will receive a 50% discount on moorage at the marina, which offers a pool, tennis and volleyball courts, laundry and areas to play horseshoes, ping-pong and pool. After dinner, hang out to watch an outdoor movie! But you need to RSVP by email for the BBQ by July 14 (this Sunday!). 

Get all your friends together for this year’s Delta Doo Dah DIY.

© Alex Pearce

If you’re planning a trip up to the Delta this summer — whether on your own or as part of a group — you definitely should sign up for the DDD DIY. You get access to great deals from our sponsors, you’re invited to our Rendezvous party in October and, best of all, it’s totally free! No strings attached. Just head on over to www.deltadoodah.com to sign up!

While the crews of more than 150 cruising boats were celebrating their safe arrival in French Polynesia during recent weeks, the dreams of one adventurous West Coast couple was quashed off the Baja Coast, before they even reached the trade winds.
Sadly, the hottest action in this America’s Cup isn’t here. . . © Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA It wasn’t too surprising that Emirates New Zealand won their second straight Louis Vuitton Series race yesterday, as for the second time in a row, theirs was the only boat on the course.