On some days conditions can be marginal for a committee to lay on yacht racing. Today at the 44Cup Alcaidesa Marina there was nothing marginal about the wind strength on the Bay of Gibraltar. Despite the first warning signal for the opening day of competition being brought forward by an hour to 1100 CEST, already at 1000 conditions were exceeding the maximum 25 knot limit for RC44 racing to take place. The decision to cancel racing for the day was disappointing, but an easy one.
44Cup PRO Maria Torrijo explained: “We are expecting strong wind, especially this afternoon – we have a warning of gale force winds. This morning we were supposed to have less wind and a window of two hours in which we wanted to do two races, but right now on the course we have 23 knots steady and the gusts are up to 27-28 and we know it will be increasing throughout the day.”
Fortunately prospects for tomorrow are much better with 18-20 knots forecast, when the race committee will attempt to make up the schedule.
Team Aqua’s Chris Bake commented: “25+ knots and building and we are expecting 50-60 knots later today, so it is a case of ‘sense over valour’. There is no point trying to go racing these conditions.”
The event at Alcaidesa Marina is hosted by Peninsula Racing and owner John Bassadone. Peninsula Racing and their team coach Gustavo Martinez Doreste frequently race here on Peninsula’s fleet of J/80s. “I think it was a good decision to cancel today,” said Doreste. “We are used to having the westerlies and easterlies here. Today was pretty much like yesterday, but the gradient is stronger. What we also have today are much bigger puffs, so sometimes it can be nice sailing but then suddenly you get a gust of 30-35 knot because the wind is coming over the mountains. So it is tricky.”
Black Star Sailing Team tactician Cameron Dunn agreed: “When we first came down to the dock this morning we had 15 knots at the top of the mast and within the next hour we were getting puffs to 24. But there is a 50 knot gradient up there and it is going to be 45 knots later on this afternoon. Unfortunately it just came in too quickly.
“Tomorrow is looks like it will be a moderate to windy, post-frontal northwesterly, 12 to 20 knots, pretty light on Saturday possibly and then the opposite direction, southwesterly on Sunday. And as we saw yesterday when it gets light out here there is a lot of geography – it can be quite a radical race course.”
Aside from the wind, banter on the dock is turning to rugby with Argentina and New Zealand playing on Friday night and England v South Africa on Saturday and all these nations represented on the 44Cup. Irish crews are still being reminded repeatedly of their defeat last Saturday to New Zealand.