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2 October 2002, 09:06 am
Strong Winds Force Postponement
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Mascalzone Latino Being Towed In ©Guido Cantini

America's Cup
Auckland

The four Flight 2 matches were postponed for at least a day due to winds over 22 knots.
Auckland's springtime weather is notorious for being blustery and today it blew Flight 2 of Louis Vuitton Cup 2002-2003 off the water.

Principal Race Officer Peter Reggio postponed today's four scheduled matches after recording average wind speeds of 22 knots from 200 degrees.

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 said his recordings were made before the 15-minute period began, and one deciding factor to postpone was the forecast.

"The breeze is supposed to build," said Reggio. "The sea's not too bad. It's a flood current against the wind so it's lumpy, but it's not as bad as a northeasterly against an ebb tide. Everything says no. Plus breeze is supposed to build," Reggio said.

OneWorld Challenge skipper Peter Gilmour said they recorded gusts into the 30s at the masthead of USA-67, 32.5 metres (110 feet) off the water.

"The most we saw was 32 knots," Gilmour said. "We had a steady 28 to 29 knots, but we were in the lee of RangitotoIsland."

The wind tends to accelerate down Rangitoto, but Gilmour said their weather boats in the middle of the racecourse were recording 23 to 24 knots on a mast similar to that on the race committee boat.

Gilmour, a veteran of the delay-stricken Louis Vuitton Cup 2000, applauded Reggio's decision.

"I definitely think it was a wise decision," Gilmour said. "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 wasn't surprised that he had to postpone a day's schedule on the second day of the regatta.

"We knew it would happen," said Reggio, who was a course official at Louis Vuitton Cup 2000. "You expect this type of thing when you come here. It's early in the regatta. If we had pushed the limits, there was still a concern that it was going to rise later in the day. We didn't want to break the boats."

According to Condition 14.6(a), the race committee may abandon a race after the start when the five-minute moving average true windspeed is greater than 23 knots.
According to the sailing instructions, today's matches -- Team Dennis Conner vs. Prada Challenge, OneWorld vs. Alinghi Team, Oracle BMW Racing vs. Mascalzone Latino and Victory Challenge vs. le Defi -- are now scheduled for tomorrow. Sunday's scheduled reserve day may also be used as a race day, especially given the long-range forecast.
Winds tomorrow are expected to blow as hard as today. The forecast calls for westerlies between 19 and 24 knots. A new low pressure forming southwest of New Zealand's South Island could produce strong winds for the region into Friday.
Sean McNeill/ISAF Secretariat
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