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3 October 2002, 11:30 am
Louis Vuitton Day 3 Postponed
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America's Cup

After the conclusion of their exciting victory on the opening day of Louis Vuitton Cup 2003, Stars & Stripes strategist Tom Whidden said of Auckland&#8217;s weather,<I> &#8220;If you don&#8217;t like it just wait 5 minutes and it&#8217;ll change.&#8221;</I>

Not always.

Some 20 hours after Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio postponed the second day's four Flight 2 matches due to strong winds, he postponed them again for the second consecutive day.

Reggio made that decision 10 to 15 minutes before the first scheduled start. Today, however, the postponement came at 0730, before the teams had even begun preparing to launch their boats.

Reggio made the painful decision after consulting with his private weather service and weather forecasters from at least six of the teams.

"It wasn't a hard decision," said Reggio. "As much as we hate to do this, we didn't want to wreck the fleet. The consensus was that the breeze would build as the day went on."

The conditions in Viaduct Harbour seem less severe than 24 hours earlier. The huge Italian flag gracing the Prada Challenge compound is hardly as starched as it was yesterday. But the wind at Manakau Harbour, to the southwest of Auckland, is 7 knots stronger than at the same time yesterday, which gave Reggio concern.

"We might've had a window between 1000 and 1130 hours, but then the wind would start to build and build to 25 to 30 knots," Reggio said. "It didn't seem appropriate to drag the fleet and everyone else out there only to postpone at the scheduled start time."

The Notice of Race and Conditions governing the Louis Vuitton Cup stipulate that no race shall be started if the five-minute moving average true wind speed is more than 19 knots at any time during the 15 minutes prior to the preparatory signal. The recordings are made on the race committee boat at the top of a mast 10 metres off the water.

Reggio postponed yesterday's four scheduled matches after recording average wind speeds of 22 knots from 200 degrees. But no one seemed frustrated by the decision to postpone.

"We know when we're getting towed out that if the breeze is up that we might in fact not go that day and if the breeze is down we might in fact not go that day," said Larry Ellison, head of Oracle BMW Racing.

"I don't think anyone's frustrated," he said of yesterday's postponement. "I think everyone's looking forward to the outcome of the different races and doing the best we can. We had over 30-knot winds at the masthead on USA-76 (on Wednesday), and the boats are not designed for that. The idea of the race is not to see who survives but who's fastest."

OneWorld Challenge skipper Peter Gilmour agreed. "I definitely think it was a wise decision. I think the challenger fleet has to preserve itself. You would have had at least half the fleet breakdown in today's conditions. You want to avoid major breakdowns this early in the game. It was the right decision for the Louis Vuitton Cup."

Reggio's hopeful racing can resume tomorrow. He said tomorrow's forecast looks more benign than today's did yesterday at the same time.

"This is the hardest part of my job," Reggio commented.
Sean McNeill/ISAF News Editor
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