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America's Cup- Ma'am there is no second - Louis Vuitton Cup opens

by Bob Fisher on 8 Jul 2013
Emirates Team New Zealand enters the start box for a lonely pre start of the first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup 2013. Chris Cameron/ETNZ

July 7th was set in stone for the first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup and the race organisers were determined that racing should take place on that day no matter what; and so, they set up a 16.05 nautical mile course around which one competitor sailed in 46 minutes and 27 seconds.

It was a sad reflection on what should have been a joyous day on San Francisco Bay – the day that the America’s Cup began in California.

Emirates Team New Zealand answered the starter’s gun and peaked at 42.8 knots during her lonely progress around the course. She sailed alone because her nominated opponent, Luna Rossa, had previously declared that she would not take part until the International Jury had clarified the position of the Race Director’s move to change the class rule without the unanimous agreement of the competitors.

Max Sirena, the Italian skipper, had stated two days ago that Luna Rossa would not be at the start. Interestingly, the Italian challenger with a new wing had been out on the practice course yesterday, but Sirena and his crew stayed ashore to leave the course clear for Emirates Team New Zealand to display her prowess.

The dispute centres on one of the 37 Safety Recommendations, namely that which changes the size of the rudder elevators. Sirena’s argument is that this should not have been allowed because Luna Rossa was built to the existing rule and that the change would give an advantage to the boats that are still being built – notably the defender and the still-to-be-finished Artemis.

Sirena’s argument is that racing should have been postponed until after the International Jury had met and made a decision on the protest. He reiterated that after the so-called race had taken place: 'We want the Jury to come out with its decision and then we will make our plans.' The organisers point to the long-established race schedule and maintain that the 'fans' deserved a race to be held today. It remains to be established whether those spectators who did watch were satisfied by what they saw.

It was noticeable that Emirates Team New Zealand had incorporated many new innovations in their second boat, one of which was the 'end-plate' to the wing that improves the efficiency of the driving force. The 'elevators' on the rudder were asymmetric and have satisfied the measurers, as have those on Luna Rossa.

However the organisers look at what went on today, the majority decision is that it was highly unsatisfactory. It can only get better.

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