ACM Squirming?

The Louis Vuitton Cup is struggling....

Bob Fisher has had another go at ACM (America's Cup Management) over their organisation of the Louis Vuitton Challenger trials. Bob quotes an unnamed ETNZ (Emirates Team New Zealand) crew member as saying they missed nine days of sailing in April last year, but a couple of days ago we had Paul Cayard quoting ETNZ weather man, Roger Badham, as saying this run of weather was one in a million. Make your minds up guys.

Unusual or not, it’s obvious that the lack of breeze is playing into the hands of the Defender. It’s not just about the amount of time and nervous energy being burnt going out to race every day with no result, while the Alinghi crew stroll round the golf course. It's also about the remaining schedule getting so compressed, that the opportunities for changing the boats become more limited (just 11 hours between RR1 and RR2) and the opportunity for development almost non-existent. Since all this appears to be happening because the date of the America’s Cup was set first and the Challenger trial dates then fixed as a consequence, it does appear that ACM have a case to answer.

But this is nothing new - in Auckland we started racing in the freezing gales of October and lost plenty of days. The Defender has the right to set the date of the Cup match, and the Challengers have to live with it – that’s how it’s always been. Maybe we were expecting something different this time... If so, I think it's because this is the first time the Challengers have tossed their hand in with the Defender and the whole thing has been run by one single management – ACM. Given that the Challenger group has handed over that responsibility, does it force a greater responsibility on ACM to ensure that the Challenger gets a decent chance? I think it does, and the fact that the playing field is now so steadily shifting towards Alinghi because of decisions made by ACM is going to become increasingly embarrassing - expect more broadsides from the mighty ‘Fish’.

Still, we shouldn’t forget that one of the primary reasons that we’re seeing teams like Shosholoza pressure teams like Oracle (or in Mascalzone's case actually beat ETNZ) is because of all the pre-Louis Vuitton racing in the Acts. And ACM were responsible for that. So it’s not all bad. But, the longer this exercise in futility goes on, the more the advantage amongst the challengers will swing to the big teams. They have the resources to better cope with the endless two race days that will become necessary to clear the schedule. And they will be desperate to keep the time gap between the end of round robin two and the semis, so they can rest people properly and do boat changes and minimise the impact of this schedule crash on the later matches. While the smaller teams will be desperate to extend the round robins - lots of action in non-smoky (these days) backrooms, I suspect...

Louis Vuitton and America's Cup Live Race Commentary at:

Mark Chisnell ©