There is a crisp northerly wind blowing at 25-plus knots across Valencia harbour today, every bit as icy as the atmosphere between Larry Ellison’s American Cup challenger, and Ernesto Bertarelli’s Swiss defender, Alinghi. These two teams seem to be able to agree on just one thing: that these strong winds are likely to snuff out any chance of racing tomorrow. “It looks borderline-20 knots and 1.8-meter seas tomorrow morning, but dropping down as the day proceeds,” says New Zealander Jon Bilger, one of six weather gurus on the Alinghi team. “We might be able to race later in the day, but that will probably depend on whether the sea state has diminished,” he added cautiously. The Alinghi team doesn’t want to race in seas of more than 1 meter (3 feet). So, take that as a “No Race” for tomorrow.
| |Alinghi helmsman, American Ed Baird (standing at right), gives a presentation during a media workshop at Alinghi’s base.|
“But Sunday is looking good,” Bilger said more optimistically. By then, however, some of the media, including Eurosport’s lead commentator, Paul Cayard, will have already shipped out. We have eight TV crews here, waiting with bated breath to cover any sort of action for more than a week. If the first race is canned for a third time tomorrow, expect them to start packing up their expensive satellite trucks. When the focus turns to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver on Saturday, the schedules will be full of action from the slopes. And sailing will be relegated to the Web. Even sailors are asking “How come we have two of the most technologically advanced race yachts in the world and they can’t sail in anything more than 15 knots of breeze or 1-meter seas?” Nonsailors, particularly TV editors, can make no sense of it at all. Our sport has already shot itself in the foot. If there is another abandonment tomorrow, all mainstream media will consider sailing to be totally lame.