Dangerous conditions set to greet America's Cup hopefuls


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The Independent Online

Boat threatening, even life-threatening stormy weather is in prospect for the opening weekend of the parallel circuit which is the America’s Cup World series, staging the second regatta of its 2011-12 programme in Plymouth.

Forecasters are apprehensive about racing the fleet of 45-foot wing-powered catamarans. Iain Murray, the Australian in charge, will make the final decision and the skippers can then choose whether or not to race.

But Vasilij Zbogar, Slovenian skipper of the Italian-backed but Spanish-based GreenComm said: “Our team is not completely ready yet, we are all struggling with the manoeuvres. We are not prepared to start in 30 knots.” He survived a capsize during pre-regatta training.

Which could even arrive by the time racing is scheduled to begin on Saturday and could easily lead to the programme for Sunday being blown off. The wind is predicted to be even stronger on Monday and Tuesday but there is no racing on those days.

There is an additional problem with the race track being in a restricted area of Plymouth Sound, overlooked by the Hoe, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning a sloping ridge.

Making tight turns in stiff breezes, especially if the sea state is bumpy and lumpy, can be tricky, especially when all nine boats from eight teams from seven countries.

A spokesman for Emirates Team New Zealand said its top priority was to look after the crew, the second to look after the boat. “We cannot afford major damage,” he said.

The America’s Cup itself, due to be staged in San Francisco in September 2013, will be raced in 72-foot wing-powered catamarans to be built by the teams. The 45-foot cats used in the world series are identical and are a separate entity.

Listen: British Olympian Chris Draper faces a tough weekend: