Wrapping up the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals 5-0 against Luna Rossa has brought some unexpected benefits for the Kiwis. Not only has it given them more rest and recuperation time, but the team is now using the extra days for some intensive two-boat testing between NZL 92 and NZL 84.
Grant Dalton says they’re not looking for any magic gains in this final period, but checking in on a few things that they discovered in the Hauraki Gulf at the beginning of the year and validating them in the conditions off Valencia. Yesterday the two boats enjoying a stonking day out on the water, the wind blowing a steady 16 knots, although today has been a lot softer.
It looks increasingly like Valencia won’t be providing the rock-solid sea breezes that might be expected at this time of year. This America’s Cup could well call for a good all-round boat, and so the Kiwis will welcome strong days like yesterday to help get the most out of their narrow hull, which seems optimised for sub-12 knot conditions.
There’s no doubt Dean Barker and the crew can sail the pants off NZL 92 when the breeze is up. Look what they did to the Spanish in the final match of the Semi Finals. But the slightly beamier Alinghi boat looks well set up for the breeze, and it will be immaculately sailed. So the Kiwis need to find that extra something. At least now they have this window of opportunity.
Dalton commented: “In some ways we’re just checking in on some of the things we did in Auckland. And because we stayed in Auckland as long as we did, and with the help of private individuals flying the boats up here, it allowed us not to get into the situation that maybe Luna Rossa found themselves in after the Semi Finals where they were still looking at configurations for the first time and evaluating them.
"We’re just re-evaluating things that we think we already know, but in the conditions of Valencia, with a lot more spectator chop at the top mark, and the wind is quite sheary here. It was a good sea breeze today [Monday], but we’ve seen some quite light sea breezes. So we’re just rechecking things here from Auckland.”
Will the Kiwis' last-minute tweaks be enough for the mighty Alinghi? Most pundits around Port America’s Cup are predicting a 5-0 whitewash in the Defender’s favour. Boathandling still isn't going to plan, however. Today in just 7 knots of breeze, one of the Alinghi boats ripped another spinnaker (remember last week's torn kite against Luna Rossa) during two-boat training today. Both boats were using standard rigs with jumper struts, which are quite often the culprits where torn kites are concerned. Maybe it's time to consider the jumperless rig sitting in the Alinghi shed! It would at least cheer up the sail repairers.
Still, a minor setback in the scheme of things. Simon Daubney sounded pretty confident when I spoke to him last week. If you haven’t already downloaded the interview, click here to read what the Alinghi trimmer had to say.