Anger as America's Cup postponed again
Wednesday 10 February 2010
Frustration is turning to anger at the America's Cup as a second attempt to run the first of the best of three races again fizzled into nothing. The principle race officer, New Zealander Harold Bennett, said of the next scheduled day for racing: "I have heard that we're looking at extreme conditions again on Friday" and brushed aside any suggestion of building more flexibility into the race schedule.
He appealed for patience, said that Valencia was not the best place to stage the regatta at this time of year and agreed that, in being responsible for race management, "I might have taken on more than I bargained for."
Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of racing yachts never even left their moorings, hundreds of thousands of online fans were again turned off, more hundreds of thousands of euros are being spent by broadcast organisations and so far frittered away, and hundreds of hospitality guests were left wondering why they said yes to the invitation.
Those "extreme" conditions are regularly managed easily by club sailors around Britain, but the boffin-designed machines which, according to the rules should be capable of competing over ocean courses, are considered too fragile, and therefore dangerous, to be let loose.
Click below to listen to The Independent's Stuart Alexander talk to Murray Jones:
The American challenger, BMW Oracle's USA trimaran, could have raced today at the appointed time of 10.00 a.m. said skipper James Spithill. But the start time had already been delayed by two hours the night before, it was delayed a further hour during the morning, and, inspecting the start area between 23 and 24 miles offshore, Bennett said that waves of six feet were made worse by having a swell from the north-east being made more confused by a wind from the west.
He claimed that only five or six days would have met the race conditions criteria in the last three weeks but said he had no intention of asking the two teams, the defender, Alinghi, is from Switzerland, if they would agree to run races on days currently not designated for racing.
Further, he said that the schedule for next week, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, had already been agreed and would continue to give Monday, Wednesday and Friday off even if they were perfect and needed for racing.
A spokesman for Alinghi said that any proposal to vary the schedule could only come from the race committee, three of whose four members are from the Societe Nautique de Geneve, the club through which Ernesto Bertarelli challenged to win the cup in 2003 and 2007. Any suggestion to change from either side would be met with suspicion, he said.
BMW Oracle has indicated it is ready "to discuss any sensible proposals" but the greatest pressure could come from knowing that an event already badly damaged by being known only for bitter wrangling in court could be dismissed by an impatient world being offered many other attractions. The winter Olympics start this weekend.
Katie Miller, 23 this year, will represent Britain in a Figaro solo race which has attracted 73 entries this year and starts from Le Havre on 27 July.
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