TWM AMERICA'S CUP CHALLENGE 2000

Light Winds Postpone Race 4
27 FEB 00 // News // America's Cup
by Larry Edwards, Quokka Sports
[Abridged]

It was another no-wind situation on the Hauraki Gulf today. After being under postponement for two hours and 23 minutes, Principal Race Officer Harold Bennett cancelled today's Race 4, delaying it until Tuesday. For the third time in this 30th defence of the America's Cup, a race has been cancelled, extending the series at least another two days. The match to date has had just three race days, four lay days counting tomorrow, and three days lost due to light and unstable breezes.

In a schedule dictated by television rights holders, Monday is a mandatory lay day. Ironically, last Friday, which was also a mandatory lay day, the breeze on the Gulf was 12 to 15 knots and the Prada boats spent six hours sailing in an intense practice session.

Since October, 14 of 69 race days have been lost to unsuitable weather conditions. Six days were lost to heavy wind and sea, while eight have been lost to light conditions. Combining the challenger final and this Cup final, six of 18 race days have been lost due to light conditions. At the scheduled start of today's race, the average wind speed was 0.3 knots. At one point, the breeze reached 10 knots, but Bennett said it was not stable enough to set a fair course. The breeze then dropped again. In the battle for dominance between the northeasterly and southwesterly breezes, it was a draw, the loser being the Cup competitors. 

This match could tie for being the longest on record. Currently the longest America's Cup is the 1983 match between Australia II and Liberty, which lasted 13 days. But that match went the full distance, requiring all seven races for Australia's John Bertrand to beat Dennis Conner. 

Under the present schedule the current match will require at least 13 days, and that's only if New Zealand wins the next two races and there are no more lost race days. In 1995, it took Coutts & Co. just eight days to win five races and capture the America's Cup.


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