Nearly there...

Not even 24 hours now to what must be the most watched and hyped moment in yacht racing (justifiably, in my view) - the first start, the first cross and the first beat in the first race of the America’s Cup.

There were a couple of pieces of outstanding business on Friday morning before it can all finally get underway. Alinghi announced the much spun, trailed and leaked news that Ed Baird will steer Alinghi. When Brad Butterworth was asked at Friday’s press conference what his relationship was like with Baird (given the lateness of the announcement and the long-standing combo on the back of ETNZ), Brad replied that it was a private matter…

Hey, a laugh at an America’s Cup press conference, that’s a start.

Previously, on America’s Cup News… the final piece of warm-up theatre had been got out of the way - Terry Hutchinson called heads and won the toss for ETNZ, choosing the starboard entry. So the America’s Cup will start with Emirates TNZ in yellow.

The no-shows of the previous opening press conferences didn’t happen - Dean Barker accompanied Hutchinson, and Ernesto Bertarelli was also there for Alinghi. As the clock ticks down, Butterworth commented that Alinghi will go out sailing Friday, and do a few drills, while ETNZ will keep doing what they’ve done before every other phase of this regatta (whatever that was), in an effort to convince themselves that this one is no more important than the last.

It was interesting that Dean Barker didn’t answer the question he was posed about what most concerned him over the next few days (any suggestions?) – I guess those kind of thoughts aren’t in the Jon Ackland psych play-book. But I suspect that what a team needs most at this stage is boatspeed - but calm, confident leadership would help and Butterworth exuded that by the lorry load. But why shouldn’t he, he’s done 15 America’s Cup races in the last twelve years, and won all of them.

But if you want to know why the Kiwis might be a little tight, then you can check out the New Zealand Herald and Radio New Zealand and just count the number of stories posted in the past couple of days. Although I'm sure they're not supposed to be reading all this stuff, the fact that it's there has to be filtering through.

Alinghi appear to have lost the battle of the backstays, with the new Measurement Committee interpretation again preventing them from taking the topmast backstays forward upwind (it reduces windage) – at this stage there’s no news on whether Alinghi will appeal the ruling again.

So, that's about the size of it, the official ACM forecast for the first race is for a light northerly gradient to become an easterly sea breeze by mid-afternoon, and blow at 12-16 knots. As the man said in Sam Peckinpah's immortal The Wild Bunch - Let's go to work...

America's Cup Live Race Commentary at:

Mark Chisnell ©