The Louis Vuitton Semi's Begin...

Don't worry if you've been out of the America's Cup loop since the end of the Round Robins - your quick catch-up is right here....

There were some dull press conferences - nothing like the good old days of the Dennis and Tom show at the AC in Fremantle.
‘Why would you want to build one [a Twelve Metre] in glass unless you wanted to cheat,’ says Conner.
Quick as the cars he loved to drive, Blackaller sticks in, ‘I don't think you can say that, Dennis.’
‘I take it all back," retorts Conner.
To which Blackaller drawls, ‘I don't think you can.’

Ah, happy days...

The guys at have come up with a stats package for the first two round robins. They are using some pretty broad brush numbers – leg times, deltas and passes. So do they tell us anything about the boats? They ignore everything from sail selection to wind shifts to crewing errors – but we learned at OneWorld that these basic numbers often tell the same tale as a much more sophisticated analysis (with data unavailable to us spectators), provided you use enough races. Well, we have 22 races now - so, what do we know?

The stats show that you wanted a boat pitched at 8-9 knots for Round Robin 1, and 10-11 knots for Round Robin 2. Peter Lester's blog reckons that ETNZ was configured for 9-11 knots, which is the wind speed they came good in in Round Robin 2. So, maybe there’s something in it, unless Lester made his judgement from the CupInfo stats… But hey, that’s how this works, right – too many people jumping to too many conclusions with too little information?

So let’s get stuck in and make some more. Downwind, ETNZ appears to get better as the breeze gets up relative to all the semi-finalists, while Oracle gets weaker. Like Oracle, Desafio and Luna Rossa also appear more light air orientated, but not as heavily gear shifted to that end of the range. But across all conditions downwind, ETNZ appear to have a little jump on everyone, while there’s not much between Luna Rossa and Oracle, with Desafio a bit off the pace.

Looking at the upwind stats, ETNZ didn’t appear to have a weakness, while Oracle, Luna Rossa and Desafio all appeared to be moded for the lighter air. Overall, ETNZ again appeared to have the edge, with Luna Rossa next, Oracle not far behind and Desafio trailing.

The stats tell us that we’ll see ETNZ go 5-0 against Desafio, and Luna Rossa and Oracle will go all the way to the bottom of the ninth… Personally, I think it may come down to whether or not Oracle can improve their first cross record. After all those come-from-behind wins I wondered if this weakness would hurt them, and it did against ETNZ in that final race. Yes, Oracle have passed Luna Rossa once, but I doubt Jimmy Spithill and co. will be as accommodating across a five race series.

What changes will the teams have made between the end of the round robins and the start of the semis? The races start later and I think we can expect the sea breeze to be stronger and better developed, so if changes are made it will be to go from a light to medium air mode - and again, using those stats, we'd be more likely to see Oracle, Luna Rossa and Desafio making changes than ETNZ.

Then there are the defeated, the seven teams whose participation - as the man used to say - is no longer required. Shosholoza have already declared their intent to be at the August Grand Prix in Kiel. As have the Germans, but it’ll be without Jesper Bank, who resigned last week. ‘No one in our team is used to such a series of defeats,’ he said at the UITG press conference last Thursday. ‘That's why it has not been easy for us. I am not content with my performance. I don't want to stand in the way for the development of this German campaign. I would like to thank the whole team for its great work in the past two years and I am proud that I have been part of the first German campaign.’ And with that, the double gold medalist fell on his sword. Just kidding.

But just as interesting was the news that the Germans have now started construction of the second Version 5 boat that they’re allowed in this Cup cycle. It will give them a crucial extra asset should they continue. The decision to build the second yacht was apparently made regardless of whether United Internet continued with them or not – the money for it was already in place.

There was also an up-tempo interview from Stéphane Kandler, CEO, posted on the Areva website. They would obviously like to continue, and are going to do what GBR Challenge did at the end of the Auckland Cup, and finish their testing. But then, look what happened to GBR Challenge…

And finally, what of the Defender? Tim Jeffrey suggests Bertarelli might shut down the operation and take his toys away. It never pays to discount something like this when Tim puts it out there... but isn’t Bertarelli doing far too well out of this to stop? And on that note, another Pommie scribe, Stuart Alexander, reports that Bertarelli has just bought land alongside the likely Valencian Formula 1 street circuit that’s just been announced. And you can read that two ways - Bertarelli is swopping horses or leveraging his investment in the town...

But what about the story that found in La Libertad (now we're getting really seedy - stories from stories from stories...). Bertarelli apparently told Bernie Ecclestone, amongst others, that he was in favour of defending the next Cup in Valencia, should they hold onto it. He added that racing would take place every two years instead of four, with 2009 being set in Valencia and 2011 in Dubai, giving that country enough time to create the infrastructure necessary for such an undertaking. I say, enough already, let's go racing...

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Mark Chisnell ©