Louis Vuitton Trophy - Nice, France

by Paul Cayard Sunday, November 08, 2009
Race Day 2 Light winds were on the cards today and again we only got two flights in. In the first one, Emirates Team New Zealand had a handy lead around the leeward gate before All4One's mainsail broke and that was the end of that.
In the second match of the day we, on Artemis, benefited from French Spirit being over the start line early on an unforced error. That gave us a bit of breathing room and from there tactician Morgan Larson did a great job of playing the very shifty winds to k
eep us comfortably ahead all the way around the track. It was great for us to notch up our first win, in our first race, in this America's Cup Class racing.
The wind died after that match and unfortunately, that was it for the day. Tomorrow, all four boats will be back in action (one of the Mascalzone Latino boats had gotten damaged on Friday) so that, combined with a good forecast for winds from the northeast starting at possibly 20 knots, and dropping to 10 knots as the day goes on, should allow us to complete 8 matches which means every team would race twice.
On a personal note, today was the first time in my life I have ever been up at the top of the mast as my primary role while racing. Let me explain. I am the strategist here in Nice for Artemis. Terry Hutchinson is our helmsman and Morgan Larsson is out tactician. So my job is to look at the race course and help Morgan figure out which side we like. The practical side of this is that if the wind is under 10 knots, I do this job from 100 feet up in the air. I have a headset so I can communicate with Morgan and tell him what I see. The view up there is amazing. I have never been a bowman so, I have no real experience being up a mast.
Today the winds were light enough before the start that I went up for our training period. There was a leftover sea so it was a bit rougher than normal up there, but I was fine. I don't get seasick, so no issues there either. During the race the wind actually came up to just 10 knots, so I was not up there but rather down in the cockpit in a more traditional position.
One of the other reasons someone has to be up the mast in light winds is to help the battens in the mainsail "pop" when we gybe and to make sure the gennaker doesn't get torn on the jumper struts. There is a bit of technique when it comes to "popping" the battens in the main. You actually launch yourself away from the mast and gravity swings you back toward the mainsail and you "pop" the batten with your feet as you land. These are full length battens and the compression in the batten is so much that in light winds the pressure of the wind is not enough to reverse the bend that is induced by the compression. So you have to jump on the batten to "pop" it.
Kind of wild really. But there are guys who do this all the time. It is just new for me. Hopefully my mother won't read this update. I will try to write more about this job, my new clothing attire and I'll even take some photos from up there to share with you in the coming two weeks. I love new things and this one is no exception.
For complete results and even live streaming of the races go to www.louisvuittontrophy.com and the team's site www.artemisracing.com
Louis Vuitton Trophy - Nice, France Louis Vuitton Trophy - Nice, France Reviewed by Panos Douros on Monday, November 09, 2009 Rating: 5

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