The lack of racing yesterday was also a chance to reflect on the lessons of the previous day. One notable moment was on the first run of the first race, when Alinghi was leading after profiting from the better wind on the right. They gybe-set very nicely and the fleet did its best to follow. There were massive place changes here, with BMW Oracle who had been over early at the start, rounding the mark in 8th and leaping up to 4th place. The Kiwis also profited here, moving from 5th to 3rd.
Some of the other teams were not nearly so slick. There seems little excuse for this. If there’s one thing that any team should be able to do, it’s the basic boathandling moves. While a gybe-set in moderate breeze is not easy, it should be well within the abilities of these crews to emulate the top teams, but the differences in execution were night and day. Luna Rossa in particular should not be losing places in tight boathandling situations.
However, the wooden spoon for poor boathandling so far goes to Victory Challenge. This is a team that enjoyed a month of two-boat duelling out in Dubai, with veteran match racer Chris Law brought in to do battle with resident skipper Magnus Holmberg. By all accounts it was a fierce month’s competition, with one of the boats having its transom knocked off in one particularly close encounter.
The teams that stayed in Valencia had a terrible winter of wind, and therefore little opportunity to get the hard yards in. So how come it’s Victory that’s fluffing its moves? Some hard questions for the team to face between now and the beginning of the Louis Vuitton Cup.