Friday, February 12, 2010
We won’t call it a post mortem because Team Alinghi is far from dead; however...
What we saw out there on the race course today was proof-positive that Russell Coutts and James Spithill were right to push for a wing mast instead of the ‘soft’ sails they had started with. The wing appears to generate so much lift in anything over 4 knots of breeze that the extra weight is easily compensated.
The only possible weakness, the downwind leg, proved just as strong, with BMW Oracle sailing faster and deeper than Alinghi for much of the time. Spithill later said ‘we seemed to carry the breeze right down to the line’ whereas Ernesto Bertarelli said Alinghi ‘sailed into some lighter conditions’ which forced them to stay high to keep the windward hull clear of the water.
When asked: ‘faced with a clearly faster boat, what are the options?’, Bertarelli replied: ‘ First a nice cold beer, then a good nights sleep, then tomorrow we can examine the data’.
Larry Ellison summed up the days events with: ‘“Today I did say that sailing is a lot harder than running a software company!”
Race 2 is scheduled for Sunday and will be a ‘triangle’ of 39 nautical miles; a windward leg followed by two reaches (wind at right angles to the boats). The forecast is for a moderate northerly but, as we know, that could all change.....
Photos©2010BMW Oracle Racing/Gilles Martin-Raget
QUOTES OF THE DAY
BMW ORACLE Racing Team:
James Spithill (AUS) skipper/helm BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA):
“Obviously it was quite exciting at the start. We were able to get a piece of them in the entry and that is something we had been thinking about for quite some time, and it started to set up to look like we might be able to get a penalty on them, so I pushed it pretty hard in there. Obviously that left us pretty close to them and we then we had a hard time slowing the boat down. We were in a pretty controlling position then, as time went on through we got ourselves stuck in irons, but also I want to say well done to Alinghi, they did a good job getting out from there.”
“ We still have a lot to learn. It kind of showed today that we aren’t at race level preparation that we are kind of used to in these campaigns. But it was an exciting start with plenty of action.”
Larry Ellison (USA) team founder and afterguard BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA):
“ I think my emotions started when it looked like we were going to race in three and a half knots of breeze. Russell and I were on the boat and we were told that we might be sailing in 20 minutes then we had the call to get as many people off the boat and as much stuff as possible off the boat to sail as light as possible, because there was a very, very light breeze. I had to get off the boat and so did Russell. And so we sailed with a minimum crew. So I think it is more stressful to watch than to sail.”
Russell Coutts (NZL) CEO and afterguard BMW ORACLE Racing Team (USA):
“ I think it is early days. I said before the series that you wont be able to draw conclusions from the first few minutes of these races….but how about that win….??
Brad Butterworth (NZL) skipper/tactician Alinghi (SUI):
“We tried to keep the boats apart with having the bottom pin offset but it was not actually set up that well, and we thought we had just done enough but obviously not. But that really did not have any reflection on who won the race. It made some interesting stop and start, in irons and going backwards, something we’d never done on multihulls.”
Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), helmsman and team president Alinghi (SUI):
"For sure at the start after the penalty it felt good they were stopped we could gybe and start. The wind changed quite rapidly. We had six or seven knots during the pre start and right off the start we were surprised with the wind coming in so strong, so quickly, 12 knots, but we thought we were doing good. But they caught up. We had to make a sail change which slowed us, but they were fast today and the wing seems to be quite a weapon. "
"I tell you, when you are in my position with the ten years that are behind and the team I have and the opportunity to race one more, or maybe two more races in the America’s Cup, you can’t call any day a hard day in the America’s Cup. They are all good days. Today it just happened they were faster, they sailed a good race.”
“We lost and I learned over the years that losing is part of enjoying sailing and going racing.”