Fisher's View- What a way to run a Regatta

Bob Fisher
'We did analysis of the [weather] statistics and Valencia was always the best,' said America’s Cup Management CEO, Michel Bonnefous at a press conference this morning, and stuck to that line through intensive questioning. 'We have done precise research and have good numbers – the worst case in April was losing four days.'

One of the sailing crew aboard Emirates Team New Zealand recalled after that press conference that there were nine days last April when sailing was not possible. Does that collaborate America’s Cup Management’s 'precise research'? No. Bonnefous called this year’s lack of wind, 'An unusually bad stretch of light weather.'

It could have been avoided by holding the entire event later in the year, but Bonnefous explained that ACM had chosen the ideal date for the America’s Cup match and worked backwards from there. On that basis, little consideration was given to the challengers to allow them to present a worthy opponent for the defender.

The press conference was called to announce formally the change in the regatta schedule. It was not something that either Bonnefous or the Chief Operating Officer (the head of the business side) of ACM, Michel Hodera, would have preferred to do. Theirs is a structured plan that is intolerant of change, but it has been forced on them by the 'unusually bad stretch of light weather.'

Dyer Jones, Regatta Director, with Michel Bonnefous, CEO of the Organisation of the 32nd America's Cup and Michel Hodara, COO of the Organisation of the 32nd America's Cup.
ACM 2007/Carlo Borlenghi

Regatta Director Dyer Jones explained the nuts and bolts of the change, saying that there would not be a day intervening between Round Robin 1 and Round Robin 2. This has the effect of limiting the period of change of the boats to eleven hours. That will keep Ken McAlpine and the measurers busy. Jones added that changes were constantly possible that did not require flotation tests or weighing.

Jones, who clearly would have preferred a better re-scheduling, also said that everything possible would be done to limit the racing in Round Robin 2 to one race per day, but he admitted that this might not be possible if Bonnefous’ 'unusually bad stretch of light weather' persists. The two reserve days are now on May 8th and 9th. That leaves only three clear days for alteration of the four boats that progress to the semi-finals.

This situation does not benefit any of the challengers and is the result of one organisation running the racing for the challengers and defenders. All benefits go to the defender and enhance Alinghi’s ability to mount a successful defence. It is a situation that must never be repeated.

Perhaps the words of Paul Elvstrom should be brought to the attention of those in charge of this regatta. 'You haven’t won the race, if in winning the race you’ve lost the respect of your competition.'