by Ken Read
Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup Final - Race 6
North Sails President and TV Commentary Team member, Ken Read gives his insider's view of the Louis Vuitton Cup:
Fog's in this morning here on San Francisco Bay. Does that mean big breeze? Typically, but hopefully not the same scenario as yesterday when the second race of the day had to be canceled due to wind strength that was consistently over the imposed safety wind limits.
I can tell you from experience that the Italians are in a tough spot. As racing sailors, we all hope that when we hit the starting line at any level we will have a touch of speed over the competition. In Luna Rossa's case, they don't have the speed edge and they know it. So to quote helmsman Chris Draper, 'we have to sail the perfect race and even then hope for help.' Not fun.
PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, skipper Ken Read from the USA is interviewed, after finishing second on leg 4 from Sanya, China to Auckland, New Zealand, during the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12. (Credit: Marc Bow/Volvo Ocean Race)
Why don't they have a speed advantage? It's easy to pinpoint that they have a Version 1 boat and are racing against Emirates Team New Zealand's Version 2 boat. But my guess is that they will look back on this Cup and find a few key decisions that were made a long time ago that may have paved the way toward a speed deficit. Foil shapes and development? Systems on board that help adjust the wind and the foils? Wing design? Probably a combination of all of the above.
The bottom line is Luna Rossa made it to the LV Cup Finals with by far the smallest budget in the fleet and they started their program much later than all the others. They gave us all some thrills and spills along the way that kept the racing interesting and that we will remember for a long time -- all while wearing shiny silver space suits that quite frankly I am relieved that no one has ever asked me to wear!
I walked down to the 'Dock Out Show' yesterday to soak it all in and noticed Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena walking around appearing to do the same thing. Just soaking it all in. He must have been realizing that their days are numbered and hopefully understanding that the stress of being the skipper of a program like this could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and treat it for what it is. An honor. Joining an elite club. Skipper of an America's Cup participant. Max, enjoy the moment even as bittersweet as it may seem. Be proud of what you have done. History will be kind to you.
Racing today on: NBC SN (NBC Sports Channel) at 7pm ET (tape delayed).
Ken will also be posting Cup 'insider updates' on Facebook: www.facebook.com/kennyreadsailor and www.facebook.com/NorthSailsUSA.