Reprinted from yesterday's editions
Bob Dylan came to Auckland and croaked his way through 90 minutes of old hits Friday night, but the answer was not blowing in the wind for the America's Cup the next morning.
For the fourth straight day, Alinghi and Team New Zealand failed to lock horns in the best-of-nine Cup match Alinghi leads, 3-0. Winds were so light principal race officer Harold Bennett held the racers at the dock to wait for the breeze to fill, rather than sending them on to Hauraki Gulf. The winds never arrived and he canceled the race shortly after noon.
Thousands of spectator boats gathered to watch the teams depart Viaduct Harbor milled for an hour or two, tooting horns, until Team New Zealand sent a motorboat out with the race team aboard to appease the fans. Racing is to resume Sunday but light winds are predicted then, too.
The lengthy delay (the last race here was Tuesday, Alinghi winning by 23 seconds) had officials pondering a revised schedule for next week. Regatta organizer Tony Thomas said if breezes don't pick up enough to race Sunday, a lay day slated for Monday will become a race day.
Thomas answered criticism about the high number of scheduled lay days by saying it was for the benefit of spectators. In both the 2000 Cup here and this one, weekday racing has been restricted to Tuesdays and Thursdays as event organizers sought to maximize weekend opportunities for TV and spectator boats.
Most major regattas have no scheduled lay days, and none has so many. It is an axiom of sailing that you go when the weather permits. But the Cup is unique. In the last 20 years it's become an international TV event and a popular outlet for corporate hospitality so the role of scheduling has increased.
The current plan "guaranteed two weekends for spectators and the corporates could plan to go out Tuesdays and Thursdays," Thomas said. Three lay days a week also "give the teams a rest and time to work on their boats," he said.
But Ed Baird, a veteran match-racer who skippered Young America in the 2000 Cup, said, "I don't know the point of all the lay days except to increase the chance of a finish on the weekend. From a racing standpoint, you certainly don't need the days off."
The off-again, on-again schedule puts Bennett in a ticklish position. As an officer of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, which Team New Zealand represents, he is open to criticism. "I had my meetings with both teams before the event started and we all agreed on conditions we want to race in," he said. In fact, Alinghi had no complaint about Tuesday's decision.
Today's postponement delayed for a second time Frenchman Bertrand Pace's first Cup race as tactician on TNZ. The "little general," as he is known, was tapped to replace Kiwi Hamish Pepper in the decision-making role after TNZ's third loss.
It's ironic that Team New Zealand, which harped on nationality as a key to its program, turned to a European in its hour of need. The Kiwi afterguard now has an Australian strategist (Adam Beashel) and a Frenchman calling tactics.
Some Cup fans compare Pace's elevation from backup helmsman to race boat decision-maker with the shocking decision in 1995 to make David Dellenbaugh tactician on the otherwise all-women's U.S. entry Mighty Mary. Thereafter, the boat was jokingly called, "Mostly Mary."