Please select your home edition
A+T Instruments 2024 Leaderboard

Cup Spy Sept 15,- Day 1: The Rain in Spain didn't 'stay mainly the plain,' but came to Vilanova

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 15 Sep 2023 07:13 PDT 16 September 2023
Race Day 1 - AC40 - America's Cup Preliminary Regatta - Vilanova - September 15, 2023 © America's Cup Media

"The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain."

Those famous lyrics sung by Professor Henry Higgins in the 1938 musical My Fair Lady were at odds with the weather prevailing in Vilanova for the first day of official racing in the America's Cup Preliminary Event.

Instead of "staying on the plain", the rain bucketed down on the America's Cup crews gathered in Vilanova. The intention was for the boats to leave the dock at 1530hrs CET and for racing to start 40 minutes later, at 1610hrs CET.

At that point (1610hrs), Race Director Iain Murray decided on safety grounds that racing was not to be staged on the day.

At the time, there was heavy rain and only light winds of 10-12kts.

The overriding concern was that of crew and boat safety.

The thunderstorms accompanied by lightning are an explosive mix - as demonstrated earlier this year in SailGP Singapore, where the New Zealand entry was struck by lightning after racing, causing substantial damage to the rig and systems - requiring a complete rewiring of the raceboat.

For the international viewing audience, there was some compensation in viewing what could have been - a replay of the Practice Racing from Friday, where Emirates Team New Zealand, the defending America's Cup champion, trounced the six-team fleet - winning all three races.

Today's start was initially delayed as officials hoped that a severe weather front would bypass the America's Cup fleet on the water off Vilanora. That hope was not realised.

Official weather data supplier Predictwind forecasted heavy rain with 6-7mm/hr of rain forecast for the scheduled start time.

After being delayed from the scheduled start time of 1530hrs CET (1330hrs UTC), Race Director Iain Murray decided to pull the pin for the day at around 1610hrs CET (1410hrs UTC) after heavy rain and thunderstorms approached Vilanova.

Racing should be possible on Day 2, with no rain forecast - and winds from the South of 6-8kts average. There will be heavy cloud cover at times. The prediction is for a moderately heavy sea state from the East of up to 1 metre - which will be very challenging for the crews sailing the 40ft foiling monohulls.

However every (rain) cloud has a silver lining, and for fans that is there will now be four races per day instead of three. The start time is now at the earlier hour of 1505hrs CET or 1305hrs UTC the last start is scgeduled for 1700hrs CET on both Saturday and Sunday.

Quotes from the Boats:

Paul Goodison, co-helmsman/skipper for NYYC American Magic: "It is what it is, in the weather it would have been very difficult to sail with lightning and thunder around, it doesn't feel very nice to be on a boat when all that is happening around you."

"It will be interesting to see if they try and squeeze a couple more races in, it would be nice for us as sailors to do more races because that's what we're here to do but whatever the Race Committee decide, we will go with that."

Nathan Outteridge, co-helmsman for Emirates Team New Zealand: "I think it was the right decision to abandon but it was good to give it a chance as we all want to race. It was pretty wet when we got out there. We had about 10-11 knots when we were hoisting sails so we went for the J2 but by the time we cut the chase it was 4-5 knots and I think after about 10 minutes, Iain Murray realised that this was not a good place to be for everyone and got us all back in. I think everyone just excited to race, the practice races were great and we just want to get into it."

Maxime Bachelin, co-helmsman for Alinghi Red Bull Racing: "We just tried, we went out but it was a bit too stormy, thunderstorms, so for the safety I think it's good to thing to head home. There was not a lot of wind as well, so they did what they can and we will be ready for tomorrow, for sure."

Kevin Peponnet, Orient Express Racing Team: "It was pretty scary when we saw some lightning and we couldn't see above 50 metres so sailing in these foiling boats in more than 25 knots of speed without a clear view of where we are going would be pretty scary. Also with the lightning, we are full carbon and we asked all the sailors and shore team coming on the boat not to touch the mast or shrouds as a lightning strike, as we've seen on other boats, can be dramatic. The call was good to come back."

Giles Scott, co-helmsman for INEOS Britannia: "Yeah good decision. I mean maybe we could have sat it out but looking at the weather now it's still not raceable an hour after the decision. Top wind we saw was 15 knots for about ten minutes but it was all over the place and not raceable and with the visibility and lightning...the weather God's were conspiring unfortunately."

Jimmy Spithill, co-helmsman for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, was disappointed not to sail but realistic saying: "It was a little worrisome heading out there with the lightning on the radar but look we gave it our best shot, we did everything we could, and sometimes as we all know in our sport you can't control the weather and ultimately it was decided for us."

"If it were up to me I would probably shorten the races up a little and try and fit more in because that's what we want to see, more starts, more mark roundings and I think people would enjoy that."

Additional Images:

This commentary was written and compiled from video, still images and statistical content extracted from the AC37 Joint Recon program and other material available to Sail-World NZ including photo files, and other on the water coverage from the 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2021 America's Cups. Its format is intended to give Sail-World readers a snapshot of all teams' progress on a given day or period.

Related Articles

Cup Spy: June 13 - Swiss smash rig
The Swiss America's Cup Challenger, Alinghi Red Bull Racing broke is mast on Thursday afternoon The Swiss America's Cup Challenger, Alinghi Red Bull Racing broke is mast on Thursday afternoon, late into a four hour training session in a breeze of 20kts. With less than 70 days until the start of racing, the options are tight. Posted on 13 Jun
Cup Spy: June 7 - Four AC75s scrap for searoom
Dean Barker and Phil Robertson return to sharpen the Swiss in some contested racing practice Five teams sailed on Friday - four out of Barcelona in AC75s, enjoying a 15kt southerly seabreeze and reasonable seaway Posted on 9 Jun
Cup Spy: June 6 - USA takes a dive
American Magic took an unexpected nosedive, blowing the clew out of a jib and damaging fairings A third solid day of training for NYYC American Magic on Thursday was marred by a high-speed nosedive during the last bear away of the day as the team headed for the harbour entrance at the end of a productive five-hour session. Posted on 7 Jun
Cup Spy June 4: More teams hook up off Barcelona
Five teams sailed, or rather were on the water off Barcelona, in perfect sailing/foiling conditions Five teams sailed, or rather were on the water off Barcelona, in what was perfect sailing conditions for the AC75 foiling monohulls. Alinghi Red Bull Racing had another media session, and trained later. Posted on 6 Jun
Cup Spy May 29: AC75s at the Barcelona Dodgems
Four teams teams sailed on Wednesday in the now-congested waters off Barcelona Four teams teams sailed on Wednesday in the congested waters off Barcelona in ideal foiling conditions. All teams conducted similar sessions focussed around racing drills, with the chase boats being used to provide a competitive edge to the training. Posted on 1 Jun
Cup Spy May 27: Franciwi AC75 design revealed
Three teams sailed on Monday. The British and USA teams sailed AC75s out of Barcelona Three teams sailed on Monday - the British and USA teams sailed AC75s out of Barcelona. Orient Express launched their AC75, while on the opposite side of the planet, the Kiwis conducted some more two boat testing. Posted on 29 May
Cup Spy May 28: Kiwi kids have a big splash
Two videos of the Cup sailing action from May 28 in Barcelona and the ETNZ nosedive in Auckland Early edition: Four America's Cup teams sailed AC75s off Barcelona on Tuesday. Top sailing photographer Gilles Martin-Raget was shoreside to catch the action. Also catch the full video of the ETNZ Youth Team's spectacular nosedive off Auckland. Posted on 29 May
Cup Spy May 25: Two Tango in Barcelona
Today for the first time in Barcelona two of the AC75 teams lined up against each other Today for the first time in Barcelona two of the AC75 teams lined up against each other in a rules limited way. We didn't learn much. The teams may have learned more, and if so - weren't saying. Posted on 26 May
America's Cup: French reveal their hand
Orient Express Racing Team's AC75 was wheeled out of the shed briefly on Saturday For a rig-stepping test Saturday morning, Orient Express Racing Team's AC75 was wheeled out of the shed briefly during the early hours revealing France's hope for the America's Cup. Posted on 25 May
Cup Spy May 24: Fourth AC75 sailing in Spain
Luna Rossa have made their grand entrance in Spain. French reveal their AC75 raceboat Luna Rossa made their grand entrance onto the 2024 America's Cup stage in Barcelona sailing a three hour session in moderate winds, without incident. The Kiwis were not so fortunate in the AC40s. French reveal their AC75 in Barcelona. Posted on 25 May
Vaikobi 2024 FOOTERSelden 2020 - FOOTERHenri-Lloyd Fathers Day 2024