Challenger Trials…

Louis Vuitton Cup Round Robin One Gets Underway

So from here it’s all going to happen very quickly and a lot of people are going to be headed home from the America's Cup in Valencia very soon. The boat announcements make the news this weekend - with both Oracle and ETNZ dumping their Act 13 rides.

In a recent Seahorse interview, Marcelino Botin reckoned the two ETNZ boats were designed for different wind ranges and this might be a clue as to why they’ve switched. It’s conceivable that 83 was developed as more of an all-rounder for the Acts, with the second boat focussed on winning the semis and finals in Valencia’s sea breeze. Act 13 was hit by an unstable weather pattern, and the all-rounder was probably the better choice. Perhaps that unstable weather is now reckoned to be behind us as we move into the more predictable summer sea breeze (if it ever stops raining) – and be more to 92’s liking?

As for Oracle, the same might apply as for ETNZ… but USA 87 put in a less than world crushing performance in Act 13. And when Oracle has been deep in the dodo before, radical change did work for them - a decidedly dodgy opening to the Louis Vuitton in 2003 saw the axe wielded ruthlessly by Larry Ellison and the previously side-lined Chris Dickson brought back to centre stage. On that occasion, Oracle recovered to appear in the Louis Vuitton Cup final against Alinghi. The first few races of round robin one will tell us whether this boat switch will do the same trick.

Everyone else has stayed in the boats they used in Act 13. The very first flight has the real winners of Act 13 - Mascalzone, fast improving runners up to ETNZ – up against the team that only beat them by a point. This match will begin to tell us whether ETNZ can continue to dominate the challenger fleet and whether Mascalzone are genuine contenders for the semis – are we watching a prelude to the semi-final match-up?

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

Mark Chisnell ©