The consensus around here is that winds in Hauraki Gulf average 14 knots: That's zero one day, 28 knots the next.
That old joke is proving too true. For the 13th time in the two-month-old America's Cup season, racing was called off today, this time for too much wind after cancellation Saturday for too little. U.S. rivals OneWorld and Stars & Stripes flailed around in rough seas for an hour before the Race Committee sent them home, along with Prada and Sweden's Victory.
Conditions were so rough, the Swedish boat damaged a boom just waiting for the winds to moderate. Seas were sharp and cresting under gray, stormy skies. The four teams will try again Monday to sail the first race of their best-of-seven series.
Organizers of the Louis Vuitton Cup set wind limits for racing before the regatta began Oct. 1. Races are not started in less than 7 knots of wind or more than 19. The upper limit is designed to protect the fragile Cup boats during the stormy spring, so that teams don't have to overbuild for conditions that are not expected to prevail in calmer February, when the winning challenger faces Team New Zealand for the Cup.
The rules, which will not apply during the best-of-nine Cup match Feb. 15, subject competitors to some ridicule. The race boats were towed out today through a fleet of classic wooden yachts holding a race of their own. The 80-year-old wooden boats boomed along under full sail, leaving some observers wondering whether the Cup rules are overprotective.
OneWorld skipper Peter Gilmour, an Australian, said he expects the weather to moderate soon as spring gives way to Southern Hemisphere summer and sea breezes begin to dominate the pattern. The winner of the OneWorldStars & Stripes and Sweden-Prada matchups advance to challenger semifinals on Dec. 9.