Challenger Finals: Race 1
This evening USA time will see the start of the final round of the Louis Vuitton Cup. This best of 9 series will determine the team that will challenge for the America's Cup against Team New Zealand.
Race 1 will see America One sailing USA 61 holding the advantage of entering the start on starboard. Prada's ITA 45 will enter from the right end.
Winds are will be influenced by a front passing over New Zealand's North Island. Due to this front forecasters see winds moving from the North to the South West around 10-15 knots. Current wind reports in Auckland show North by East winds near 20 knots indicating the front has yet to pass. There may also be lite rain.
At the eve of racing press conference both skippers sounded ready. Wearing his trademark vest, America One's Paul Cayard gave this outlook: "I think its going to be tough, with tight races, a lot of sub-20 second races and a lot of lead changes. I would expect it would go at least seven races." Francesco de Angelis says, "You have to rely on what youve done and if you studied enough, you try to sleep and be ready the next day" indicating he is comfortable with his teams readiness.
The team that wins race one will be 20% of the way to the needed 5 wins. The team that loses will need to win at least 5 of the next 8 races to advance. With the boats so evenly matched any lead whether due to a start, a shift or the first race win will give the leader a much needed edge.
Miami Olympic Classes Regatta
Starting tomorrow and continuing to the 29th will be the 11th annual Miami Olympic Classes regatta. Venue will be Miami's Biscayne Bay. This is the USA's only premiere level Grade 1 event. With 2000 an Olympic year the standard of competition will be high.
Below is a summary of the classes that will sailor and sailors of particular note in them.
The Europe women's single handed dinghy class will see Meg Galliard coming off a podium spot at the recent class world championships. Past medallist in the class Courtenay Dey will sail, giving Galliard a good measuring stick.
In the men's singlehanded Finn class the defending champion Larry Lemieux of champion will sail. Amongst the Americans will be Darrel Peck. The USA still does not have an Olympic berth in this class.
The 49 boat Laser class will have both strong US representation and foreign sailors. American Mark Mendenblatt will attempt to defend his title against this tough group.
The 16 boat Soling fleet will sail in a match racing only format. Top USA team is Jeff Madrigali, with Craig Healy and Hartwell Jordan. Among top International teams is Great Britain skippered by Andy Beardsworth.
13 of the 15 top ranked Star boat teams will sail at Miami. Defending champion's are Reynolds and Liljerdahl. Just back from the America's Cup is current world champion Eric Doyle and crew Tom Olsen. Notable out of country sailors will include Canadian Ross Macdonald and Great Britain's Ian Walker. From the entry list this looks to be the regatta's toughest group.
The Tornado catamaran class will have all USA teams sailing. Many of the sailors that just sailed the class world championship will be in Miami including Lars Guck and P.J. Schaffer and Charlie Ogletree and John Lovell.
This regatta will help establish form lists for the various classes upcoming Olympic selection trials. The Tornado trials are coming up in March with the Star, Finn, Laser and Europe trials are in April followed by the Soling selection in June.
The Race Fleet builds
From France comes news of several boats abuilding for The race. Code 1 the 108 foot Ollier design is ready to have the hulls assembled. Launch is scheduled for July. Before then we will know the identity of the skipper and team which is still confidential.
The third of the Ollier boats for Team Adventure has begun building at the JMV yard. Once the hulls are finished and joined Team Adventure will travel by water to be rigged.
Finally, Playsation which recently broke the Newport to Bermuda race will sail to Charleston South Carolina for further development work. Playstation crew David Scully owns a boat yard in Charleston.