Saturday, 23 June 2007

Luigi's new assistant race officer

Apparently principal race officer Peter ‘Luigi’ Reggio is none too happy about having to hand the starting horn for Race 1 of the 32nd America’s Cup over to supermodel Petra Nemcova.

You have to have some sympathy for Luigi. It’s not exactly clear what the Czech model’s connection with the America’s Cup is, and maybe someone like Dennis Conner or John Bertrand would have been a more fitting figurehead for the role. Or possibly Russell Coutts, with his strong connection to both teams on the starting grid...;)

Then again, I’m sure Luigi will cheer up when he gets to meet Ms Nemcova in the flesh. Dennis-Petra-Dennis-Petra…. Who would you get to fire your starting pistol?

Meanwhile, no 18th men listed on the crew lists for today’s big match. What a big waste of one of the most unique elements of the Cup. How many top-grade sporting events allow a spectator access to the field of play, to be a part of the action? It should be compulsory for teams to take their passenger. It makes no difference to the performance of the boats, so where’s the problem?

A nice quote from Brad Butterworth yesterday, being asked to compare the Cup now with 20 years ago when he was calling tactics for a young Chris Dickson, as part of New Zealand’s ‘Plastic Fantastics’ campaign. “I could move around a bit easier - I was 27 then! The difference between what I know now and I what I knew in Fremantle…we were beaten by Dennis Conner, and I could not understand how he could beat us because he was so relaxed, but he was faster and smarter.”

The battle between the two tacticians in this Match will be fascinating. You couldn’t find two more different characters. Butterworth, the most laid-back man in Port America’s Cup, and Terry Hutchinson the intense and focused American carrying Kiwi hopes of “bringing the Cup back home”. Different personalities, but very similar racing styles however. Don’t expect any of the Torben Grael throw-caution-to-the-wind style of tactics, but a much, much tighter game.

Hutchinson commented yesterday: “I suspect you’ll see us do the same kind of things we’ve been doing up until now - looking for subtle little gains, and capitalising on them. With Alinghi I think you’ll see the same thing - taking small gains during the race.”

Writing at 11am in Valencia, there’s a strong element of northerly in the breeze right now, which is pretty unusual, but it looks like 3pm start time should be a go. D-Day has arrived.

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