Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Day 3. No wind. Time to contemplate the wonderfulness of seeing Patricio Bertelli riding around in a Mercedes of the same model chosen for Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada. Ample time to think on whether life would be better with a pair of 140-euro Luna Rossa-branded denim jeans. Even time enough to wonder if the skippers of the powerboats who send the raceboats off every day with big blasts of the horns are planning to cut a CD. They have a thing going: a bit of a rhythm and almost a melody, sometimes.

So what does it take to get a rise out of a jaded press corps? Try announcing, "Today's mixed-zone press conference will be attended by team meteorologists." In our third day with racing calmed out, if not for speculation about deflecting keel struts, we'd have a problem here. The only guy who's in the zone is Mark O'Brien, the cartoonist working for Luna Rossa. This is his moment. Not that there wasn't some hot sailboat racing today in Valencia, it's just that it was kids racing model boats inside the harbor, which reminds me that the strongest reaction I ever had to a story was the one that I wrote on model boats. Go figure.

Over at BOB, Tom Ehman notes, "You gotta laugh. No doubt Alinghi is – just what the Defender had in mind when they scheduled AC 32 to start in April instead of June or even May when the seabreeze is more prevalent." (Tom wears multiple hats, including director of external affairs at BMW Oracle Racing; he was founding Chairman of the Challenger Commission.
is the BMW Oracle Blog.)

Paul Cayard is in town to do broadcasting for Italian TV, but he spent a chunk of Wednesday being interviewed by Spanish reporters and filling them in on Desafio Español and the difficulties (not unique to the Spanish team) of being international. "It's not only the language," he said, "it's the culture. When I was with the team as coach, that was part of my involvement, to keep everybody aware of the need to arrive at a common denominator. It's respect, it's professionalism, it's working out alongside each other in the gym every day. Every team here is going to lose a race they think they should have won. The question is, do they lose their solidarity or do they come out ready as a team to give 110 percent for the next one?"

Paul also did what he could to shape up the media ride for Desafio Español. He told the reporters about a time when he had been outrageously misquoted, by a Spanish reporter, regarding some of the Spanish sailors. He said, "That is very hard on a team, and this is your team. Whether you like Karol Jablonski or not—I know he doesn't speak very good Spanish; he doesn't speak very good English either [laughter from the reporters; Jablonski is Polish: Ed.]—the fact is that Karol is pretty good, and he is the skipper of Desafio Español. All these guys are living here with their families, and they're proud to be sailing for Spain. Think about it."

Here inside the America's Cup Beltway we've had a good buzz going over the notion that Alinghi may (or may not) have developed a way to control the deflection of the bulb strut to gain an extra tweak of stability. Is this The Year of Deflection? Supposedly Alinghi isn't alone in investigating the possibilities. I didn't break that story, and I'm not one to pundify toe to toe with my elders. If you haven't been there already you can get a read of Matthew Sheehan's story at Can we Cant?

One word, however. Let's not overanalyze the keel revealed on SUI 100 on Unveiling Day, April 1. Alinghi is not required to use that keel, and the only reason they would have chosen to show it is if it really is their keel of choice (so far) and they figured the other teams would discount anything they actually showed. Uh oh. We're overanalyzing.

A completely separate "deflection" interpretation, Confidential Interpretation No 10, passed with little notice a year ago, but it's related to the chatter on Unveiling Day about twisting trim tabs for an extra tweak of pointing ability.
On a day when weather is the news, and it's not a storm, we might as well get this out of the way.

From ACC Technical Director Ken MacAlpine, No 10 of 13 Confidential Interpretations issued since 6/8/05:

In response to the following:

a. Rule 17.11 limits the allowable vertical deflection of fixed appendages. So these limits also apply to movable appendages?
b. Is it permitted to control a movable appendage (trim tab) at two points separated in the span-wise direction to either limit rotational deflection between the control points or induce deflection between the two control points?


a. No.
b. Yes, it is permitted to control a movable appendage (trim tab) at two points separated in the span-wise direction to either limit rotational deflection between the control points or induce deflection between the two control points. The rotational axis of each control point must comply with the requirements of Rule 17.10 (b)

In order for a movable appendage to b e considered as a single movable appendage each side of the appendage exposed to water flow must be a single surface and the appendage shall be structurally continuous.

Along about three months from now there will be a match for the America's Cup, and I doubledog betcha that little of this seems important at the time. So I guess that makes us all Zen masters, because we're here now.

Thanks for asking, there's a rumor that my luggage might appear today, only a little more than a week after I checked it in and then faced the cattle stampede inevitable given the brain-dead security layout in the US Airways wing of SFO. As for checking baggage to VLC, those who follow in my footsteps, take heed. Lost luggage is such a common story here that if someone says, "How's it going?" and you hesitate with your answer, they'll immediately say, "Your bags didn't make it, did they?" —Kimball