The 33rd America’s Cup has so far been a story of frustration and disappointment.
The first two attempts to begin the best-of-three showdown between Alinghi and BMW Oracle have been canned because the conditions were deemed to be unsuitable for racing. This false start has brought some dark questions about who is really controlling the proceedings in Valencia.
The race committee’s decision to call off racing on the first day was understandable – there was simply no wind. Yesterday however, they had a golden opportunity to race, but they did not take it and everybody is shaking their heads. The conditions yesterday appeared pretty reasonable – it was a beautiful clear day, and the breeze was a healthy 18 knots. It would have been a tough race, but it would have been full of action.
But the race committee, headed by New Zealand’s Harold Bennett, canned the proceedings as the 1m swells were considered too extreme. It has to be said these “extreme” conditions are easily managed by club sailors around New Zealand.
It is getting to be quite farcical when these two multimillion-dollar machines, with all their technical wizardry, can’t go out and race in conditions that approximate the real world of sailing.
From where I’m sitting they are meant to be able to race these things, it’s meant to be an ocean course and for them to not have raced just doesn’t seem right to me. The boats not being strong enough is not an excuse – if they haven’t built boats that are sturdy enough to cope with conditions, then tough.
As we’ve seen time after time, the defender controls the game. It is becoming very clear that Alinghi are leaning on the race committee to ensure that they don’t race in conditions unsuitable for their yacht.
While yesterday’s postponement means the boats will stay in one piece, the same can’t be said for the public image of the America’s Cup. With every postponed race the sport is losing further credibility in the eyes of the public.
There is a real sense of disappointment and frustration among the punters gathered here, and no doubt the people watching on the television and internet at home.