The America's Cup finale now appears to be the possibility for Wednesday the 18th instead of Tuesday the 17th as the race committee instead of awarding the Cup to New Zealand, cancelled each of the mere two races needed for the win. The AC, instead of holding a press conference with the sailors speaking, had each team wheel out a designer who answered questions about increasing the wind limit. Wednesday became the potential finale with lighter winds predicted but the boats continue to change too, keeping everyone guessing. The designers discussed changes in ORACLE'S spine and Kramer teased five new changes appear visible to the naked eye.
The cancellations happened on an unusually windy but still warm and sunny day on the bay. Wind limits set for safety this summer will remain in place. Take a look at the rarely-seen designers Kramer and Holroyd as well as some rarely seen ORACLE supporters, plus the Kiwi toting, NZ flag wavers in the slideshow.
ORACLE TEAM USA, the come-back kid, dominated the first race against the favored ETNZ until wind exceeded safety limits and each had to race back to the barn instead. The change in dynamics since skipper Spithill rotated in Benny Ainslee has been strong and dramatic, more so than any could have imagined. There's a lot of communication with Slingsby during the race.
Related: ORACLE wins again against ETNZ
Meanwhile, after the cancellations today, boat designers Dirk Kramers from Oracle and Nick Holroyd from ETNZ gave a relaxed chat with some media, giving some interesting insight into the fine distinctions and taking a gentle but firm stand for the current wind limitations even at the expense of their loyal fans.
Dirk and Nick sat side by side in arm chairs and there seemed to be a professional affinity and respect and less of the tension one sees when the skippers are placed side by side in the press conferences. Dirk, with a clean shaven head, looks tougher, a little older than Nick and more stocky and muscular. He's a national of the USA and the Netherlands, born in December of 1952 so he's about to turn 61.
Nick looks taller and leaner with a short beard, more artistic and creative. Nick actually looks like a fit and professional sailor with a tan, an athlete as good as the rest of the team and not at all like somebody with a desk job. Those clinical shots on the website just look like your high school shots where everybody looks like a forty year old virgin. They don't do the team justice. There's a big difference meeting these men in person.
Indeed. Nick says part of his day job is to get into a wetsuit and ride in a skiff with the AC72, ready to jump into the water should the need arise to pull the guys out of the Bay.
Why wind limits will remain in place
Questions about increasing the wind limit slightly started. Skills have increased and every day the sailors get higher on that vertical learning curve.
Dirk started by putting things in perspective. He answered that once the Cup postponed sailing for much longer.
Once there was no sailing for ten days, in Auckland, so this one day is not so bad.
The designers in seriousness answered on behalf of the teams and said we all took it hard when Andrew “Bart” Simpson of Artemis died. Since the new wind limitations came out of that as a safety measure the sailors see no reason to change things at this late date. Yes the boats are designed to go faster in higher wind but the America’s Cup released the schedule for Wednesday saying the wind conditions have been like those when Oracle capsized, floated out to see and destroyed their wing.
Neither designer discussed how expensive the boats are, whether the team is funded by the government as ETNZ is or whether the team gets backing from an international corporate billionaire, as ORACLE TEAM USA is. ETNZ has only one raceable boat and ORACLE TEAM USA still has two, although they destroyed a wing sail in a capsize.
How the boats differ from each other in design
Nick Holroyd of New Zealand said the Oracle boat might be a bit more stable than ETNZ since the wing is controlled by hand while ETNZ controls by hand at first and then hydraulics kick in. Nick also noted that the lines and sheets of ETNZ have a used feel, the sailors don’t like a new feel.
One team’s sails are lighter which allows for weight to go into other parts of the boat. One team’s boat is lighter which allows for more weight to go into the sails.
Nick said the boat design comes only with information from the sailors. Sailing is the most team oriented sport and everything must work error-free and be precise, from the publicist to the fund raisers to the sailors and design team.
The teams are not necessarily aware of the changes allowed daily to the boat design.
Multi-hull boats and foiling are the future the designers reiterated but they admitted the obvious challenge, that the Cup needs more competitors to participate. That means the boats must be made more affordable.
The team designed the boats said Nick specifically for San Francisco Bay in September. The winds are a tad higher than predicted for ETNZ. Nick studied the charts for the Bay but not necessarily that little part with no wind, the Alcatraz Cone. Boats just sit peacefully in this triangle on the side of the island away from the Golden Gate Bridge, spectators can see the cone and still boats easily from the shoreline.
The press conference concluded and ETNZ’s grinder and trimmer entertained fans with a friendly autograph session. NZ Derek Saward grinder, married; NZ James Dagg, trimmer. The friendly ETNZ gentlemen signed for all sizes and shapes of fans from those in Oracle gear to pretty young Kiwi fans with long hair to a local bicyclist with her peace-sign backpack. Tuesday seemed to be “adult” day as most children had returned to school except a lucky few.
Racing resumes Wednesday, September 17 at 1:15.
For more information: www.AmericasCup.com
Check out youth sailing around the Bay at www.SailSFBay.org, particularly the 75 year old program on Oakland’s Lake Merritt.
The America’s Cup pavillion is along the Embarcadero before Fisherman's Wharf and is an easy walk, pedicab ride, bike ride or Muni ride from the ferry building and Embarcadero BART. The village and grandstands are at Marina Green.
For more stories by this writer check out CBS San Francisco's website under Eye on the Bay, San Francisco arts & culture "Best Of"; and San Francisco Arts & Culture on Examiner.com. Subscribe by hittng theSUBSCRIBE button at the top of this article.
CBS SF website: Weirdest museums in the East Bay
CBS SF website: Best permanent exhibits in the North Bay
CBS SF website: Best outdoor theaters around the Bay Area
CBS SF website: Best local authors in San Francisco