Valencia, Spain — The opening race of the 33rd America’s Cup Deed of Gift match between Alinghi and BMW Oracle off the east coast of Spain was canceled on Wednesday due to rough seas. This is frustrating America’s Cup fans as this happened just two days after race one of this best of three showdown was postponed for the first time due to weak winds. This is causing some sailing fans to ask why these million dollar America’s Cup boats are so fragile, as every sailor knows even a cheap beach cat could have raced in conditions found in Valencia today.
America’s Cup race director Harold Bennett said the waves of more than two metres in the race area some 25 miles off the port of Valencia would be unsafe for the giant multihulls fielded by US team Oracle and defending Swiss champion Alinghi. “These are different boats than what we are normally used to. With conditions like today, I am not sure they would have done terribly well,” he said.
Guess they don’t build America’s Cup boats like they use to!
The race – 20 nautical miles upwind and 20 back – is now set to be held on Friday, the next scheduled racing day, in accordance with the rules of the 159-year-old event, sailing’s oldest and most prestigious trophy.
The America’s Cup has traditionally been run in monohulls but this year for the first time both sides will sail multihulls that can sail at three times the speed of the wind. Alinghi’s giant catamaran, the Alinghi 5, and Oracle’s equally large trimaran, the USA, are the biggest, fastest and most expensive entries in the event’s history.
As opposed to Monday when both teams agreed with Bennett’s decision to cancel the race, this time around Alinghi backed the move while Oracle, whose boat is thought to have an edge in strong winds, opposed it. “We were more than happy with those conditions, those waves,” said Oracle’s Australian helmsman James Spithill, adding his side had already sailed under similar conditions in San Diego.
Bennett’s decision to cancel Wednesday’s race revived the debate over the impartiality of the Societe Nautique de Geneve, which Alinghi represents, and which is charged with organizing the 33rd America’s Cup. Bennett defended his impartiality, saying he was employed by the International Sailing Federation to oversee the competition.
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