Saturday, April 21, 2007

It's the Planet

Being more or less (and mostly less) under way with racing in the challenger eliminations, and groping for yet another angle on no-race days, I checked on my home waters where the Singlehanded Farallones Race is being sailed today. And I saw that the NWS is forecasting winds SSW 8-15 knots as a front moves in from the Gulf of Alaska.

Folks, it's not Valencia, it's the planet that's off-sked. Rain in April is not unheard of on and around San Francisco Bay, but it's not "supposed to" happen.

Before she went on-staff for China Team, German photographer Heike Schwab went to Dubai for the winter training of Alinghi and Victory Challenge, "And it rained in December," she says. "People there were saying that it never happens." You know the rest. No matter where you go in the world . . .

So I hit the Media Center (oops, Centre) in the a.m. and already you could smell the fear. We're all running short of no-race-today angles, and here came The Voice of the America's Cup, Peter Campbell, asking, "What was that Jim Carrey movie where the same thing keeps happening day after day?" I sent him away thinking Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, and I'm pretty sure what the audience Down Under will be hearing from Peter Campbell. He's always on, but he's never topped his 1983 line, "Australia, you bloody BEAUTY!" That's Peter Campbell at work on Olympic Finn medalist and BMW Oracle grinder Craig Monk.

There being no pressure, given the prospects for nonracing, I committed my fellow scribes to the racecourse with a hearty vaya con dios. No regrets. Here is the official summation of the day:

Valencia, 21 April, 2007 - On the first scheduled weekend of racing at the Louis Vuitton Cup a large spectator fleet assembled on a sunny and warm Saturday to watch the action, but once again the wind didn't cooperate, and there was no racing. It's the fifth day to have racing postponed due to a lack of wind.

The challengers have agreed to amend the racing schedule to allow for the disruption caused by the postponements. Each of the Round Robin One flights will now be conducted in order and Round Robin One will be completed before Round Robin Two begins.

Fortunately, the forecast for Sunday is more promising. A stronger Easterly gradient wind should allow racing in Flights 3 and 4, on what is forecast to be a mainly clear Sunday.

Instead of going out, I took a look around the south wing of Port America's Cup, where work has been running a bit late. But it seems as if it will be ready for prime time when prime time comes. These huge and rather handsomely-faced structures that once housed the activities of the industrial port have been turned over to entertainment, infotainment, and retail. The public walkway is sandwiched between the big sheds and the moderne camps of Emirates Team New Zealand, Areva, Victory, Desafio Español, Germany, Mascalzone Latino, and China. Hmm. Wonder if Mascalzone team gear got a sales boost this weekend off their big win on Friday?

Looking back the other way, we open toward the main entrance to Port America's Cup. The banner overhead reads, more to do, to see, to eat. Dig the lineup of bikes on the left, one of many bike-parking areas, and the reflective face of the Emirates Team New Zealand compound.

Did I mention, this is not your father's America's Cup.

Back in the Newport Days there was also a VIP entrance of sorts, but it never had a name on it, did it?

Along the northern reach of Port America's Cup (going toward Alinghi, BMW Oracle, Luna Ross, for example) the work on the sheds was pretty well done months ago.

You can see that these sheds front the water, and the displays inside are really rather well done, the models especially, because they're BIG.

Here's the model of America.

Of course, if this was a Bobby Grieser shot the lighting would be perfect, but you get the idea. These people were admiring the model of Alinghi 2003.

The interactive stuff works, too, especially for kids. Want to be the guy who jumps the halyards? Start young, laddies.

But a real champion takes on the job one-handed with ice cream.

And this likely fellow wanted to prove he could hold it for as long as I would keep shooting.

Somewhat less attractive to the younger set, but a nice way of telling the evolution through years, a display of wheels.

And of course, there are seemingly limitless opportunities to shop for your essential America's Cup gear. Most of the teams have shops with cool-looking, logo'd clothing, but if you're smart you'll look for the leading edge, technical stuff made like the real team kit. Beyond the logos, there are reasons why these guys wear what they wear.

This is a straight-up America's Cup shop in the big shed. You won't find any technical stuff here, I believe.

So that was my sabado at Port America's Cup. There's more, but I'd better save it in case of, well, in case of the unspeakable. I'm a pretty mellow guy. I made it through nine days of waiting for my luggage without putting my fist through sheetrock. (After two failed delivery attempts I had them hold it at the airport; made that trip yesterday.) I can wait for wind. But there's no question that this waiting is taking a toll on the event.

Meanwhile, I like Valencia, not that I've seen much of it. But if I am open and friendly in my stumbling Spanish, the people are open and friendly back. There are things to see and things to do. My neighborhood in the old city is attractive and fun, though it's a shame that the neighborhood surrounding Port America's Cup is drab at best. Until now the port was industrial, so there was no reason for the neighborhood to blossom. A lot of my fellow scribes have pitched camp close by, for the convenience, and I understand the thinking. I've had nights when I wondered if the transiting was worth it. But I'm here until July, and I would fear a serious breakdown in attitude if my whole world was anchored inside the America's Cup Beltway, with a horizon line of the drab. As for thievery on the streets of Valencia--that's been in the news in some publications--I'll take that up another time.

Come June there's going to be a match for the America's Cup. We're going to get there, so let's end this on an end wall of the exhibit hall, presenting the question, how many different ways can you say, no hay segundo.
There is no second.—Kimball