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Scuttlebutt: Rolling towards the Acts

Peter Isler submits this report to Scuttlebutt, providing his insight on the events surrounding the build up toward the 2007 America's Cup. Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget.

(Thursday, May 4, 2006) On Wednesday I was reading the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions for “Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 10” which starts in less than a week and it struck me as funny that I’ve grown accustomed to the name “act” which seemed so out of context the first time I heard it. But just to be clear that the meaning is understood, even in the NOR the Act is defined as a “Pre-Regatta” which of course is a more accurate description. Act or Pre-Regatta notwithstanding, it’s all “on” here in Valencia. Today, our BMW ORACLE Racing team is enjoying our last day off before what could well be sixteen straight days of sailing.

We’re really looking forward to the two back-to-back regattas (Act 10, a match racing event consisting of a single round robin amongst the 12 teams followed by Act 11, a fleet racing event). Of course the America’s Cup is a match race, and as we saw in Auckland in 2003, the sailors are learning how to wheel these 80 foot long, 24 ton sloops around like Lasers on the starting line. So the main focus of all the teams is to develop the boat, sails and skills to excel in match racing. But the fleet racing is great fun and an incredible spectacle – real fun for the sailors. This will be the last fleet racing event in 2006. Act 12 in June/July will be a match racing-only event with a semis and final round following the round robin.

Isler wired in and working the numbers
But although the Acts provide a central focus, and count for seeding points for next year’s Challenger Selection Series (Louis Vuitton Cup), all the teams must keep an eye on the big picture … winning the Cup. We’ll all be carefully watching the performance of the new generation boats that compete in the Acts and try to learn as much as possible about our own performance so as to be able to continue our process of development that is a never-ending part of the Cup game.

Schedule wise, racing days won’t be too much different than a “normal” America’s Cup day. Sailors will arrive at the base around 9AM (Remember this is Spain, so you have to subtract two hours to convert to the US concept of time of day). We’ll head to the gym for a warm up and stretch (rather than a full workout on a non-racing day), and then breakfast. Brief meetings follow that include a review of the previous days lessons learned, a look forward to today’s opponents and a weather briefing. Meanwhile, the boat, sails and equipment are being prepped by our support team. The first warning signal is 2PM. We’ll leave the dock about two hours prior, depending on whether our first race is on the near (north) course or the far (south) course. The race committee is using two race circles so as to be able to conduct six match races at a time. Two race days are in the schedule for these Acts, so we’ll likely return to the dock between 530 and 7PM depending on the wind.

What do we expect? Well the classic conditions are a moderate Easterly sea breeze that starts building around noon and lasts into the evening. But this is no sure thing. This week Valencia has been pelted with a Northeast storm which brought 30 knots and rain yesterday and kicked up a nasty swell that will take a few days to subside. So as we’ve learned over the past few months of training, you’ve got to be ready for anything here in Valencia. - Peter Isler, Navigator, BMW Oracle Racing Team

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