Saturday, July 31, 2010

A game of inches

Anders Myralf is amazed at the closeness of the RC 44 class. “The difference between the top and bottom is this close,” said the Danish helmsman, holding his thumb and forefinger less than an inch apart. “Today was nice sailing, but we had tough results. We just didn’t feel … we just weren’t lucky.”

After opening the fleet racing yesterday with three bullets in four races, the Team 17 crew slipped to third today after posting a 5-4-5-10. They now have 32 points and trail first place by 11 points.

Our second entry in the series, BMW ORACLE Racing, with guest helmsman Maxim Logutenko of Russia, had a steady day with finishes of 4-6-6-5. They hold fifth overall with 43 points.

With three races planned to wrap the regatta tomorrow, neither crew is so far behind that it can’t make up significant ground. As Myralf said, “We’ll come back tomorrow.”

Friday, July 30, 2010

17 racks up the bullets

Whether it was the amateur driver, changed conditions or new found boatspeed, 17 was “en fuego” today on Day 1 of the fleet racing portion of the RC 44 Valencia Cup.

Coming out of the match racing skipper James Spithill said they needed more boatspeed. They had plenty today as Anders Myralf of Denmark guided the 17 crew to three first place finishes and a fourth to wrest control.

“I have the easiest job on the boat,” said Myralf. “They ask me to do specific things so I just focus on the telltales and the instruments. I never even saw the racecourse until finishing.”

Anders Myralf (right), James Spithill (left) and the 17 crew
The fleet racing requires amateur helmsmen to be on the “handle bars.” Myralf, who sails the Farr 40 Nanooq with the Prince of Denmark, first joined the crew during last month’s Copenhagen Cup, and likely will be in the same position for the rest of the year.

“I was surprised when Jimmy e-mailed me and asked me to do the rest of the season,” said Myralf. “I immediately cleared my calendar.”

Our second boat in the series, BMW ORACLE Racing, holds fifth tonight after steadily improving throughout the day with finishes of 10-6-4-2 with guest Maxim Logutenko of Russia’s Team Synergy guiding the way.

“The start of the day was not easy. It was so light and shifty, and our speed wasn’t very good,” said Logutenko. “But our communications got better as the day went on, and as the wind built I could feel the boat better.”

Maxim Logutenko (2nd from left)
The characteristic sea breeze that marked the match racing portion of the regatta was absent today, replaced by a streaky and shifty easterly. Only late in the day did the southeasterly materialize around 12 knots.

Racing resumes tomorrow with four races scheduled beginning at 1:00 pm CET.

Racing as viewed from Malvarrosa Beach
BMW ORACLE Racing leads Mascalzone Latino
Bowmen lined up for a start
Starboard jibe down the run

Video time

As a team, we’re very proud to call Frenchman Gilles Martin-Raget our dedicated photographer. His images are stunning. But our new videographer, Javier Salinas, is equally talented. Herewith are a couple of videos from the team’s participation the past few days in the RC 44 Valencia Cup. The first video recaps the match racing portion of the regatta, on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the second recaps yesterday’s practice race.

Match racing recap

Practice race recap

Thursday, July 29, 2010

El día de los jóvenes

Today was a day for the youths -- el día de los jóvenes -- as BMW ORACLE Racing and Marina Real Juan Carlos I welcomed 15 youth sailors between the ages of 14 and 17 from the Real Club Nautico de Valencia to ride aboard the RC 44 yachts as they practiced for the fleet racing portion of the RC 44 Valencia Cup.

The kids were wide-eyed on the water as guest crewmembers, and shoreside they received posters signed by team members Russell Coutts, Jimmy Spithill, Dirk de Ridder, Ross Halcrow and Joey Newton.

Tomorrow the fleet racing portion of the regatta commences, with up to four races planned per day through Sunday. Class rules require the fleet racing helmsmen to be amateurs. In most cases this means the owners drive.

In the case of our two teams, guest helmsmen have been invited. Maxim Logutenko of Russia’s Synergy Team will be aboard BMW ORACLE Racing with Russell Coutts, while Jimmy Spithill welcomes Andres Myralf of Denmark aboard 17.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Undone by waves, countback

The match racing portion of the RC 44 Valencia Cup ended today with our two teams placed third and fifth.

Team CEO Russell Coutts and crew had an opportunity to win the first half of the week-long regatta, but came up short in a crucial match against Aqua, which went on to win at 9-1. They wound up third with an 8-2 record.

Main trimmer Dirk de Ridder said they hit some waves coming off the start line in that deciding race that slowed them down. The sea breeze does kick up a bit of a chop, and Aqua skipper Cam Appleton said he also hit some waves off the line but was able to find a smooth spot to tack and get out of dodge. After dropping that race Russell and the boys fell into a tie for second with Artemis, but lost the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Russell and Dirk

“We only lost two races, and normally that’s good enough for a win,” said Dirk. “You lose a tiebreak, that’s the way it works.”

Team skipper Jimmy Spithill was a bit frustrated after his 2-3 day aboard the “old grey mare.” He showed some great finesse in pre-start maneuvering, but feels they need to find more boatspeed.

“We’re not feeling fast. We need more speed out of the rig,” he said. Later he added, “We’re slowly getting better, but have quite a bridge to climb.”

 Tomorrow is a practice day in the regatta before the fleet racing begins on Friday.

BMW ORACLE Racing against Team Aqua

BMW ORACLE against Ceeref

17 and BMW ORACLE Racing approach the start line

In the cockpit with BMW ORACLE Racing

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wet 'n wild on the Med

The adrenaline was pumping today at the RC 44 Valencia Cup when the southeasterly sea breeze pumped up to 20 knots and sent the light-displacement boats screaming around the race track.

Upwind looked pretty lumpy, but downwind the bows were lifting out of the water as spray cascaded off the topsides. Boatspeeds were reported in the high teens, as the sailors showed great form slamming the boats around with seeming ease.

BMW Oracle Racing leads No Way Back.
 Our two entries in the RC 44 Valencia Cup showed good form, even if they stubbed some toes along the way. Team CEO Russell Coutts and crew are second at 4-1, while skipper James Spithill has 17 placed fourth, also at 4-1.

Coutts and crew Dirk de Ridder, Ryan Godfrey, Ross Halcrow, Ronan Henry, Revelin Minihane, Colin Orsini, and Chris Schirmer scored victories against No Way Back (the overall season championship leader), AEZ of Austria, Sea Dubai and Mascalzone Latino. The one loss came at the hands of regatta leader Artemis.

BMW ORACLE Racing has Sea Dubai covered tight.
Spithill and the 17 crew consisting of James Baxter, Jonas Hviid-Nielsen, Kyle Langford, Joe Newton, Bryce Ruthenberg, Matt von Bibra and Brad Webb scored victories over Katusha, Puerto Calero Islas Canarias, Ceeref and No Way Back. Their lone loss was against Team Aqua.

Boat 17 leads No Way Back upwind in the final flight of racing.
The regatta continues tomorrow with the second half of the match racing portion of the event.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

From the notebook

Random quotes and thoughts from people associated with the America’s Cup television production trials this weekend in Valencia, Spain, which produced more than 150 hours of video and required 10 terrabytes of memory.

Brad Webb, BMW ORACLE Racing bowman
My impressions are that the courses need to be short. There’s lots of work still to be done on course configuration, do we have a short upwind before going downwind, or even start downwind? Also, how do we integrate spectator viewing?

It was a big one to try all the different angles and 3D format. It’s good to be pushing the television aspect beyond anything done before. It’s always been reactive in the past, but now TV is leading the way. It’s a great idea to have the cameras integrated into the design of the yachts. The networks will know what they’re getting when they sign up for rights.

The monohull vs. multihull debate rages on. I’m on the fence about it. Before the 33rd Cup I was keen to go back to monohulls. Then I saw how cool the boats were and it was pretty exciting. Let’s face it, multihulls are cool to watch and that’s what it will boil down to, what’s coolest to watch.

Every camera angle that was different was good. There’s still refinement to go but it’s all food for thought. The surround sound and 3D were cool. Are people going to sit on their living room couch and wear special glasses to watch it? Maybe. People laughed five years ago about what the Internet could offer and look at it now. So maybe in three or four years 3D will be the standard. The important thing is we’re ahead of the curve rather than playing catch up.

Peter Reggio, esteemed Principal Race Officer
We tried some unrefined things. For the purpose of these trials the trick was to construct the racing in such a manner that the boats engaged each other. The more the boats are engaged, the more compelling the viewing.

We weren’t looking for pure open water sailing. If you have open water sailing you end up with speed tests. We were willing to try things to be sure they didn’t work. The trick is to construct the racing in such a manner than engagement happens.

This isn’t just for the 34th America’s Cup, it’s for the future of the event. We’re all trying to make things better for the future. We all want to create a legacy that carries the America’s Cup well into the future.

No idea was deemed too small. We might’ve been looking for a needle in a haystack, but if we don’t look we’ll never know if it’s there.

Alberto Accettulli, 25, of Genoa, Italy, whose video “Ride It” was one of three early entrant finalists in the America’s Cup Video Production Competition 
I’ve never been sailing or seen a regatta. I’m totally shocked because of the massive effort going on here. I’ve never seen so many professionals working so closely together three to four years before competition.

I was a pro mountain biker for a few years, but then I started to work in video production because I had no sponsor and needed to make some money to eat and live. So I asked a friend to take film of me riding my bike, and then I found my new passion, filming and editing.

My video (click “Ride It” to view the video) is the result of three years of video. It’s all real riders, there’s no duplicating in it.

I see the goal is to capture a young audience. I see you have to be open to change to get that audience. My new goal is to help capture young audiences with sailing videos. I will make a video of this weekend and put my touch on it.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hagara joins the fray

Day 2 of the America’s Cup TV trials was meant to feature the two X40 catamarans skippered by Cup veteran Murray Jones and Roman Hagara of Austria, the skipper of the Red Bull Extreme Sailing team and a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the multihull discipline.

The weather gods, however, would have none of it. Or only a little of it.

After 90 minutes on the water, the crews, race officials and TV personnel were forced back to the safety of the Port America’s Cup because of rough conditions.

Last night a northeasterly wind kicked up a short, sharp nasty wave pattern outside the harbor. These were not the conditions that V5 America’s Cup Class boats would have coped with, but the X40s gave it a try anyway. But with the wind blowing 15 to 18 knots, the crash-bang ride, and drenching conditions threatened to damage the expensive television and audio equipment. So time was called on the day’s testing.

“For us, the waves were fun,” said Hagara, 44. “But for the TV guys, it was a little wet.

“The plan was to duplicate yesterday’s session, with a lot of match racing maneuvers, but because of the wind and waves it wasn’t possible with the X40s,” Hagara said.

Hagara (above, right) raced as a tune-up skipper against James Spithill last year in the lead-up to the 33rd America’s Cup. He has been sailing multihulls since he was 14 years old. Besides his gold medals he also has two Tornado world championships to his credit, once as skipper (1999) and once as crew for his brother, Andreas (1987). So it’s hardly surprising the future he’d like to see for the America’s Cup.

“I haven’t match-raced a whole lot, but it’s different, I like it,” said the Austrian. “It can be stressful in close-quarters and mark roundings, you have to make quick decisions. The America’s Cup is the most important regatta for sailing. Hopefully the future is in multihulls.”

Day 1 rushes posted

The rushes from the first day of the America’s Cup TV trials are posted and can be viewed by clicking on this link, 34th America's Cup television trials, or on the 34th America's Cup YouTube channel.

When watching the clips, please keep in mind that they are rough cuts and not a finished product. They’re meant to look like outtakes as the producer and director search for new camera angles while noting others that won’t work.

There is a comments section at the bottom of the page where you can, and are encouraged to provide feedback. We want to know what you think works and what doesn’t.

Today’s planned trials in X40 multihulls were halted after about 90 minutes on the water as the conditions were too rough to test camera equipment without risk of damage. Judging by the pic below, you can understand why.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Eyes wide open

While veteran America’s Cup sailors and television producers are on hand in Valencia conducting the America’s Cup television trials, three “green” students from the USC School of Cinematic Arts are following them to document the behind-the-scenes action.

Lindsey Cohen (above, left), a 22-year-old editor, Garland Hunt, a 22-year-old producer/director and Rachel Elias, a 25-year-old cameraperson, and arrived on Tuesday after a whirlwind acceptance process.

“I just saw the job posted last Wednesday (July 14),” said Cohen. “I found out I was accepted on Thursday, and then we flew over on Monday. It’s pretty amazing.”

The three students had never heard of the America’s Cup before, much less ever been sailing. But after today’s first day of evaluation trials, they have a whole new appreciation for the physical aspect of the sport.

“The grinders are amazing,” said Elias. “It’s interesting to see how closely everyone works together and how close the boats get.”

“It’s an amazing sport,” said Hunt. “I expected it to be physical, but it’s also beautiful. Like swords through the water.”

The students may have arrived in whirlwind fashion, but they’ve got their work cut out. They have to produce a 15-minute short-form documentary based on their own footage captured and that shot by the professional TV crew on site. Already they have more footage than they need, and they still have to conduct interviews.

“It’s a large, arduous task,” Hunt said, “but we can handle it.”

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Happy BDay, Fresh!

Completing a half-century of life can hardly go unnoticed, so today we proudly salute design team coordinator Ian “Fresh” Burns for turning 50 years old. Fresh was serenaded with a team-wide rendition of the old standard “Happy Birthday to you…” not once, but twice. The second round of out-of-key singing came complete with a cake and bottle of bubbly. But there’s no truth to the rumor that Fresh smeared icing all over the new concept papers for the 34th America’s Cup design.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Video competition thriving

Hey Web surfers! Have you seen us out there?

The America’s Cup Video Competition is on more than 250 sites. The original video has been played more than 15,000 times. The competition ad is posted on 200 Facebook fan pages and has generated more than one million impressions.

(Curious about this image? Visit the America's Cup Video Competition to find out what it's all about.)

The initiative has even been tied in with the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

So, if you’re a video enthusiast and want to help transform the video output for the 34th America’s Cup, grab a camera, some friends and edit your ideas into a tidy package. Then go to the America's Cup Video Competition home page and enter the competition.

One more thing: a big shout out to all of you surfers who’ve helped push our Facebook page in excess of 10,000 fans.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fly by wire

Standing at the helmsman’s station between the central and outer hulls on USA-17, skipper Jimmy Spithill was sometimes more than 50 feet off the water when the windward hull was flying.

This week, our skipper is flying a little closer to the agua as he takes on a different position at the F18 World Championship in France. Jimmy is hanging from a trapeze as crew for fellow Aussie Glenn Ashby, the team’s invaluable sailing coach during the Cup in Valencia.

(Glenn, above, left, hangs a "shaka" while Jimmy punches the air after BMW ORACLE Racing won the 33rd America's Cup.)

Given the duo’s outstanding track record, you’d have to like their chances. Jimmy, of course, expertly guided USA-17 around the racecourse last February to win the America’s Cup. He’s the youngest-ever skipper to win the oldest trophy awarded in sports.

Glenn is a three-time world champion in the F18, and last week he won the A Class Catamaran World Championship for an incredible seventh time. Jimmy was meant to compete at the championship in Italy, but was a late withdrawal due to other things. Like visiting the President of the United States. And ringing the NASDAQ opening bell. All while celebrating his 31st BDAY.

Glenn didn’t have time to savor his victory. Moments after being presented the world championship trophy on Friday evening in Cesenatico, Italy, on the Adriatic coast, he was off to Erquy, France, on the north coast of Brittany, for the F18s, which started yesterday.

The coach-now-skipper and skipper-now-crew were placed 13th overall in the fleet of 159 boats after five races. With discards included in the scorelines, Glenn and Jimmy have 34 points. Racing runs through Saturday, so look for more updates later in the week.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Youth sailors steal the show

Youth sailors were in abundance on Thursday during the team’s visit to Newport, RI. Upwards of 400 youth sailors were on hand throughout the day, riding aboard the vintage 12-Meters and sailing Optimist dinghies and 420 one-designs on Newport Harbor during a fleet parade. Later in the day, they were guests of honor in a special session with the team. “The kids are always the best part of these shows,” said emcee Tom Ehman (below, left), “they always ask the best questions.”

With some sporting t-shirts proclaiming “The America’s Cup kicks butt!” and others asking, “W’sup with the Cup?” team CEO Russell Coutts spoke with the kids. Coutts, once a youth champion, has always given his time freely to youth sailors. He emphasized that you don’t have to be a good Optimist sailor to be a good sailor.

“When I was growing up in New Zealand I used to read about the races in Newport, but never thought I’d get the chance to compete. I also never dreamed of visiting the White House and meeting the President of the United States,” Coutts said. “It just shows what you can accomplish with hard work and dedication, and how broad our sport is.”

Friday, July 2, 2010

Enjoying the hospitality in Newport

America's Cup fans and sailors from turned out in force to welcome the America's Cup and the BMW ORACLE Racing team to Newport on Thursday. 

Thanks to all involved for a great day.

Return to Newport

On Thursday, July 1, the team wrapped up its whirlwind three-day tour of the East Coast with a visit to Newport, RI, host to the America’s Cup for more than 50 years. The "Auld Mug" was on display in familiar grounds between Bannister's and Bowen's wharves for all to see as sentry stood guard.

With a brisk nor’wester blowing on a sun-splashed day in the City by the Sea, many shared the sentiment You couldn't have asked for a nicer day! as members of the team and the Cup paraded around Newport Harbor and enjoyed a gala luncheon at Fort Adams State Park hosted by Sail Newport for 450 people.

Rhode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri was among the many dignitaries on hand. He showed his allegiance to the team by pulling out a BMW ORACLE Racing cap from the team's skirmish against Alinghi in Newport in June 2004 that he "found in his closet this morning."

Tom Ehman (second from left) introduces team members Scott Ferguson, Ian “Fresh” Burns, Brad Webb and Matthew Mason – and last, but not least, the America’s Cup – to the welcoming crowd at the gala luncheon.