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On the Bay: February 19, 2010

There is a common thread in sailing recently that has affected our local frostbiters and that other event that is happening in Valencia – you may have heard of it. It is called the America’s Cup and it is finally being contested on the water rather than in the courts.

First up, our wonderful frostbiters. Those who read this column know all about our sailors who get up each Sunday morning during the winter season with thoughts of racing on Manhasset Bay. They are the most loyal bunch of racers in the world. They could possibly be the most optimistic too. For many days, the wind is just too strong for the little IC dinghies or the Ideal 18s. Or the weather is frigid….. or there is ice on the bay. There are many variables that can cast a pall over Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately last Sunday was another disappointment for this group. Not that they didn’t come out and hope for good racing. A few Ideal 18s tested the conditions, the Race Committee was in place (food ready to be cooked on the grill), but conditions proved to be just too dangerous. Thus, our friends were forced to return to land and cry over their liquid refreshment as they placed bets on the Super Bowl. Results for Frostbiting on Sunday, Jan. 31: IC Dinghy Fleet; 1. John Silbersack/Johanna Silbersack, 2. Ted Toombs/Jenny McCarthy, and 3. Dana Schnipper/Brandon Rogers. The top boats in the Ideal 18 Fleet: 1. Bob Schwartz/Tom Powers, 2. Jamie Losee/Ryan Christie, and 3. Lou Nees/J. Nees.

Mother Nature was not very kind to another group of racers – those that make up the two teams competing for the America’s Cup. After so many months of court dates and Alinghi (Switzerland) filing suit against BMW Oracle (USA) and vice versa, it seems almost unfair that when the two teams are ready and willing to have a go at it on the water, the Mediterranean Sea doesn’t provide enough wind. One might think this is Long Island Sound in the summer! Having two of the fastest and most technologically advanced sailboats ever built doesn’t do much good if the wind is so unsteady. After being towed to the starting area in the predawn cold, only to wait idly for about four hours, the Race Committee cancelled racing for the day. This eagerly awaited (for some fans) race between two-time winner Alinghi and the challenger BMW Oracle will try again on Wednesday, Feb. 10. The cancellation of Monday’s racing prevented Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), owner of America’s Cup defenders Alinghi, his chance to share helming duties with France’s Loick Peyron, which would have been very interesting indeed. Jimmy Spithill (AUS) was slated to take the helm on BMW Oracle Racing, while team owner Larry Ellison (USA) was not scheduled to onboard for the first match up.

According to BMW OracleTeam weather guru Chris Bedford (USA), “We had a southerly breeze well offshore that was occasionally filtering into the start area. But closer to shore we had a westerly breeze for most of the afternoon. At times it was showing up to 14 knots at the top mark. So there was pressure (wind) trying to make it onto the course, but because of these two winds converging, we never had enough breeze over a 20-mile leg to get going... I think the Race Committee did a good job today.”

Chris - a veteran of eight America’s Cups - also gave a rough forecast for Wednesday... “On Wednesday, I’m looking for quite a bit more seaway; we’ll probably be getting some kind of a swell down from the Northeast, along the coast,” Bedford said. “We’ll likely be in a waning Northwesterly that may turn into some kind of a sea breeze in the afternoon, if we’re lucky. That’s what we’re keeping our fingers crossed for.”

The match is won by the yacht to first win two races. Race warning signal is at 10 a.m. local time (CET), with race to start at 10:06 a.m. Following the abandonment of racing on Monday, the schedule will continue to attempt a race every other day (Wednesday the 10th, Friday the 12th, Sunday the 14th, etc.). The course for the first and third races will be twenty nautical miles to windward and return; the second race, an equilateral triangular race of 39 nautical miles, the first side of which shall be a beat to windward. Golden Gate Yacht Club won a pre-event coin toss, and chose for a starboard end start entry for the first and third races.

For those who are interested, there are some places that you can watch the action. Obviously getting on the water to watch the America’s Cup is not an option at this point in time. And if readers really wanted to be part of the spectator fleet, consider this: other than absorbing the excitement from the crowd, spectators are typically herded too far from the action. Either you get on a fast RIB to skirt the Marshalls, or on a monster power boat with good food and satellite television to watch the races. Neither is quite the 50 yard line at the Super Bowl.

Here are some of the online options: The event website for the 33rd America’s Cup will provide live online coverage with Peter Montgomery, Andy Green, and Cam Lewis commentating for the official Host Broadcaster. - http://www.americas cup.com. ESPN360.com will carry the live coverage from the Host Broadcaster with Gary Jobson and Randy Smyth commentating. All races will also be available for replay at http://www.ESPN360.com.

BMW Oracle Racing has gotten involved in a big way, and will be hosting the official live feed of the racing from the Host Broadcaster in addition to producing additional online coverage. Here is their plan: “Race Day” consists of several blocks of live programming, bringing an unprecedented, live, behind-the-scenes look at the team to sailing fans worldwide. The Dock-Out Show – watch the team prepare for battle as they leave for the race course. The Morning Show – an insider’s look at the history of the America’s Cup, the 33rd edition of the oldest trophy in sports, and BMW ORACLE Racing, live from the Oracle Cinema at the Team Base. The Pre-Race Show – news and analysis ahead of the racing. The 33rd America’s Cup Match –the official live feed from the Host Broadcaster, bringing all of the action from the race course. The Post-Race Show – analysis of what happened on the race course, featuring expert commentary.

The Dock-In Show – cheer on the American challenger as the team returns to shore following the race. To view the above, go to: http://www.livestream.com/ bmworacleracing, http://bmworacleracing. com/en/news/livestream.

And lastly, readers can go to the event website for event documents, jury decisions, and other event details: http://33rd.americas cup.com/en/.