LADIES DAY AT THE CUP RACES was a bust. No joke, that's how today was being promoted – a special day for ladies in dresses and big hats to sip on small bottles of Moët with drinking spouts, not flutes. Ascot and the Kentucky Derby comes to the AC. When's the special day for Gentlemen? Or how about a Gay Day? I note on the local news that yesterday a Bermuda parliamentarian introduced a bill that would ban same-sex marriage. It may be 2017 in the rest of the world, but then nobody said it is in Bermuda.
After we watched two hours of AC35 re-runs on NBCSN, Regatta Director Iain Murray had no choice but to pull the plug on today's racing. At 1400 the wind was below the 6-knot wind limit, and it only got lighter from there. And the forecast for tomorrow and Friday are not much better. We alerted our Dear Readers to this potential two days ago, way ahead of the cut-and-paste websites and most other news outlets. Stick with SAILING ILLUSTRATED for the latest info – advance and otherwise, and great analysis of the past.
Iain told the teams and media at his morning briefings that his ACRM weather service was saying it would likely be too light. He was right. I'm sure ACRM are paying a lot more for their professional forecast than what I'm saying Windy.com (nothing), so they'd better be dead on target.
The regatta is not yet a week old, and we've already lost two race days due to weather – last Friday (too much wind) and today (not enough). And we are likely to see a lot more of this in the days and weeks to come. June is statistically lighter than May in Bermuda, and it was a huge risk to run Cup there at this time of year. Time will tell, and I sincerely hope this doesn't become a problem like we had in Valencia 2007 with days and days of no wind.
People think it is normally light in San Diego, but we chose the period February through May (1992 and 1995) to run the LVC and Match because they are the most reliably windy months of the year. Not very windy, but a reliable give or take 10 knots. And it proved out, as fewer race days were lost in San Diego over those two Cups combined than at any other Cup venue since at least 1970.
Newport, Perth and Auckland, to say nothing of Valencia, were not nearly as reliable as San Diego wind-wise. From memory I think we only lost four days total in SD due to too little wind, or too much, but it could have been fewer. And, lest we forget, the two-race Deed of Gift Match in San Diego (1988) in September had no lost race days, unlike the DoG Match in VLC in 2010 where we had several days of too little or too much wind, albeit that was in the normally unstable month of February as mandated by the NY Court.
Which brings me to San Francisco. There are few if any places on the planet as iconically beautiful and reliably windy as SF Bay. During AC34 in 2013 we lost one race day due to too little wind – and that was because the time limits was too short, not because that day there was too little wind for the boats to race. As many of you will recall, the Kiwis were way ahead of OTUSA and almost to the finish line when the time limit ran out. Otherwise the Kiwis would have won the Cup.
The problem in SF was cancelled race days due to too much wind, and, again, that was the fault of the race organizers and teams for agreeing to an upper wind limit that was too low. After the tragic death of Bart Simpson the wind limits were lowered out of an abundance of caution and, frankly, fear. Artificially low wind limits could have been avoided, too. As everyone knows SF Bay is breezy in the summer. Had the boats been designed, engineered and built for wind up to 30 knots there would have been exciting racing every day.
As your Ed. is fond of saying, "SF Bay is iconically beautiful and reliably windy" (Meg, did we get this trademarked yet?). It is the perfect place for the yacht racing, especially the AC with live TV. Time will tell how this all plays out in BDA, but we've already lost two race day and the regatta has barely begun.