Thursday, November 5, 2009

The French connection

While the San Diego squad prepares to get the BOR 90 back out on the water next week, a talented sailing team has been assembled by BMW ORACLE Racing to tackle the first Louis Vuitton Trophy event in Nice.

I spoke to Hamish Pepper (NZL), who will be the tactician in Nice, to find out how preparations were going, ahead of the first scheduled race day, Saturday.

"It's great to be here with all of the teams and all of the guys are very pumped and excited about the Louis Vuitton Trophy," he told me. "I think everyone is looking forward to going sailing again. And the thought of match racing these boats is great.

"Unfortunately, we haven't had the best of the weather conditions over the last couple of days. There's been a Mistral here, so it's been windy or very bumpy and we've only managed to get one training session in. Some of the teams have had two, but we have another session scheduled for tomorrow morning. The forecast is for lighter conditions in the morning before it builds later, so we should be able to get another couple of hours in."

The team crowds into a RIB for transfer during training
(Thanks to Franck Socha - Louis Vuitton for the image)

The pairing list has been published and BMW ORACLE Racing is scheduled to race right off the bat, in Match One, Flight One. The opposition is the new Italian team of Azzurra, but Hamish says not to be fooled by the 'new team' label - he's expecting a battle.

"Azzurra may be a new team, but if you look at the people involved - Francesco Bruni helming and Tommaso Chieffi on tactics, for example - they've put together a very good team. This is a team that's been to Valencia and done quite a few days of familiarisation on the boats, so I think they'll be a very polished team as well. So from the first start, we expect them to be very good and we think it will be a tough race.