Reality Check

The first round of Louis Vuitton racing is over

Some random thoughts on what we’ve seen so far, in no particular order…

We’ve finally seen plenty of tight races, and that will help the Challenger cause. But I still think that this exercise has been more damaging than positive, too much nervous energy has been expended for too little. But if the weather stops draining the life out of the Challenger programmes, then constant racing at this level will give them an edge over the Defender.

Internal competition of the type that Alinghi are trying to simulate isn’t quite the same. The atmosphere is different when everything’s arranged by an outside agency. And worse, internal competition is divisive if taken too far and crew choice is left too late. Since the switch to the IACC class - with just one exception (1992) that I can think of - the Cup has been won by teams who have picked their race crews early and stuck by them.

Oracle have swopped boats since their rather average showing in Act 13 and gone straight to the top of the class. So perhaps Alinghi won’t turn up at the Cup with a speed edge that makes everything else irrelevant. But I still wouldn’t bet on it given their performance in Act 13, and the extra ten weeks they have for development while the Louis Vuitton is going on.

It looks to me like the top four have the destiny of the semi-final spots in their own hands. It’s theirs to lose - the chasing pack, Mascalzone, Victory and to a lesser extent Shosholoza, can only hope they do so… and keep trying to win their own matches.

I believe that only two teams posted new certificates after the overnight change period between round robins, UITG and China Team, so don’t expect anything radically new in the way of speed differentials. Having said that, new sails will be swopped into the inventory – some of those RR1 headsails have done a lot of tacks. Some of the replacement sails will have been ordered weeks ago, to fit in with production schedules, and sail coordinators will have been faced with the dilemma of tweaking the designs or leaving them the same. When those new sails arrive and get put up for the first time, those tweaks might not be all that was hoped for…


Oracle – Top of the leaderboard - ‘nuff said.

Luna Rossa – The predictions of a 2003-style chainsaw massacre after the losses to Shosholoza and Oracle have been shown up for what they were. This is a completely different team to 2003.

Desafio – Turned a shaky start with the loss against Areva into a solid fourth place and a semi-final spot.

Shosholoza – The soul of sailing took scalps and scared everyone, whatever happens from here they will go home heroes.


ETNZ – the pre-regatta favourites now languish in third, that handy aura of invincibility looking past its sell-by date. Now is the moment for them to show what they’re made of… as they say in cheesy B-movies.

The Rest

What else were you expecting?

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

Mark Chisnell ©