Weather impacts America's Cup again

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
Last updated 10:01 22/09/2013
Fairfax NZ

The ever-increasing crowd at shed 10 were once again left gutted, as a time limit prevented Emirates Team New Zealand claiming the America's Cup.

Team NZ fans watch America's Cup
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A fan at Auckland's Shed 10 battles to watch the final America's Cup race.
34th America's Cup
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Oracle CEO Larry Ellison holds the America's Cup trophy aloft.
Dean Barker
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STILL WAITING: Get ready for more agony New Zealand, today's America's Cup action is under threat.

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Another day brought another dimension of America's Cup frustration courtesy of the local weather.

After having races called off for too much wind and yesterday's match point time-out because there wasn't enough wind to complete the race in the 40-minute time limit, today it was the wind coming from the wrong direction that wreaked havoc.

No racing was possible as a southerly wind blew in, making it unable to race the course set for this regatta.

It would have seen the boats reaching across the wind going both up and down the three main legs of the five-legged course.

"That's not America's Cup racing," regatta director Iain Murray said.

He held off as long as he could to try to get thing started by the 2.40pm (local time) deadline but the wind didn't co-operate,  shifting to the south-west.

The course, when configured properly, involves a reach to the first mark, a downwind leg, an upwind beat, another downwind leg and a final reach to the finish line.

The cancellation of racing today leaves Team New Zealand still sitting on match point and Oracle requiring a further six wins to retain the Cup.

The prospects of racing tomorrow look good - if the forecast can be believed.

But it's another frustration in a final that is dragging out with so many twists and turns, it's ridiculous.

Adding to that frustration today was that regatta organisers, aware of this possibility, met with the teams last night to discuss the possibility of using an alternative course that can be squeezed into the massive bay.

But neither Team New Zealand nor Oracle were keen on that, preferring to wait for the winds to turn and use the existing course.

Regatta director Iain Murray explained their logic, saying neither team had practiced on the alternate course, or done any homework on it.

Given what was at stake now with the final sitting on match-point, they wanted to continue racing on a course they knew.

"None of the teams have experience going from that direction," Murray said. "We held a meeting in conjunction with the Coast Guard to use that course, which requires all shipping to be stopped.

"The teams have never practiced in that area, they haven't done any homework in that area. For the racing that's left on the table, it's extremely important. They preferred to wait rather than take a chance on something they're not really prepared for."

That brought a sigh of relief from the local coast guard who was also involved in discussions. They had pointed out that all shipping would need to be brought to a halt on the bay to accommodate and alternate course.

The final could break the record of 16 days in Auckland in 2003 when light winds stalled racing for 10 days before Alinghi went on to lift the Cup from Team New Zealand.

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Tomorrow will be the 16th day this final has run. 

Emirates Team New Zealand Crew List

Skipper/helmsman: Dean Barker (14), Tactician: Ray Davies (10), Wing Trimmer: Glenn Ashby (3), Trimmer: James Dagg (9), Bow: Adam Beashel (2), Pit: Jeremy Lomas (8), Pedestal 1: Chris Ward (7), Pedestal 2: Rob Waddell (11), Pedestal 3: Winston MacFarlane (4), Pedestal 4: Chris McAsey (5), Float/Grinder: Derek Saward (12)

Oracle Team USA Crew List

Skipper: Jimmy Spithill (9), Tactician: Ben Ainslie (12), Strategist: Tom Slingsby (10), Wing trimmer: Kyle Langford (8), Jib trimmer: Joe Newton (5), Off-side trimmer: Rome Kirby (4), Grinders: Shannon Falcone (1), Joe Spooner (2), Jono MacBeth (3), Gillo Nobili (6), Simeon Tienpont (7)

TODAY IN AMERICA'S CUP HISTORY

September 21 is noteworthy on three instances, including a clinching win in 1964:

1964, Race 4, Sovereign v Constellation - Constellation wins by 15:40 and defends the America's Cup for the New York Yacht Club, its 19th consecutive defense of the Cup. Sovereign marked the last British appearance in an America's Cup match after 16 challenges since 1870.

1980, Race 3, Australia v Freedom - Freedom wins by 53 seconds. Raced in winds of 12-16 knots, Freedom was lucky to win after selecting a light mainsail, not executing its start efficiently, tearing a headsail and spinnaker, messing up a spinnaker hoist and dropping a jib, and losing spinnaker pole overboard. If it were not for a building breeze Freedom would have been trailing the series.

1983, Race 5, Australia II v Liberty - Australia II wins a must-win race by 1:47. In a southerly wind at 18 knots before the start, Liberty suffered a rigging failure. Despite not having its mainsail up at the 10-minute pre-start, Liberty forced Australia II over the line early and took a 37-second advantage at the start.

The repair to Liberty's rigging gave way and Australia II tacked out to the left and Liberty gambled on a right-hand shift that never came. Australia II led at the top mark and crossed the finish line 1 minute, 47 seconds in the lead, and closed the score to 3-2 in favor of Liberty.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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