"The light winds in Valencia, at the beginning of this Round Robin, have all been down to Alinghi and AC Management!" according to the proponents of the conspiracy theories, which have Alinghi somehow manipulating AC Management, the weather data, Mother Nature, or all three!
William Wallace takes a more critical look at the weather data and debunks the misleading information the snipers and conspiracy brigade have put out.
Incidentally, if you are wondering where and when this windy, spring picture was taken; it wasn't Trapani, or Marseille, or Cascais, as some guessed when challenged. It was taken, in Valencia, in the afternoon of March 31, 2006.
Most of you will by now have read the transcript of the Alinghi press conference (HERE if you haven't), regarding the weather and the choice of Valencia for this edition of the America's Cup. Already the snipers have been pooh poohing the whole thing as a whitewash and a publicity stunt, as is their wont, but we need to put this in perspective and make accurate judgements, when we begin to question Mother Nature.
It's true that, this past month has been lousy from a sailing point of view, but for the people lying on the beach it's been a godsend, although that doesn't help our cause very much. Let's go back to the basics and take a look at what has happened here. First of all we have had irregular pressure patterns in the North Atlantic for most of this month. The conspiracy theorists are saying that Alinghi knew about this all along and had it planned as some dastardly trick, designed to keep the America's Cup sitting on the mantlepiece above the fireplace of some Swiss Chalet. Not True. No one could have foreseen this particular set of circumstances and if Alinghi managed to get a synopsis of the April weather for 2007, some three years ahead of time, then all I can say is that we may as well let them keep the Cup and all go home, because they must have friends in EXTREMELY high places.
Another favourite chestnut of the snipers and conspiracy theorists is that THEY have gleaned the weather statistics from the last 10, 20, or 50 years (pick a number) and that the wind averages, for X consecutive years, is only about 6.5 knots. This is akin to Enron fiddling the books; they have played with the numbers to make you see what they want you to see. Their average wind speeds have been taken from an overall 24 hour period, and as we all know, racing only takes place over a 4.5 to-5 hour period each day. In this area, in a 24 hour period, the wind patterns and speeds are generally as such for April:
2100 hours. Calm winds 3-4 knots West
1100 hours.West night wind slowly swings south and east as the land heats
1430 hours. Full sea breeze (Garbi) from the East 10-15 knots depending on the land temperature
1900 hours. Sea Breeze starts to diminish and swing North or South (depending on the topography) to settle back into the West.
So, if we add up all those hours of different wind speeds we will get the average the snipers love to quote, but if we take only the sailing hours required and calculate only those we will get: Wind speed 1st hour10Kn +2nd hour 11Kn+3rd hour 12kn+4th hour 13Kn+5th hour 14Kn = 60 X days in the month 30 = 1800.
Now, let's make a hypothetical average over the last 5 years 1st year 1800 2nd year 1950 3rd year 1680 4th year 1740 5th year 1860 Add that lot together and we have 9030, which we will divide by 5 (years) to get an average = 1800.6 which we will divide by 30 (days) to get 60.2 again divided by 5 (hours) and we have our average wind speed (12.04 knots) for the period between 1400hours and 1900 hours, in the month of April, over a 5 year period. These are the averages the snipers should be calculating, although such selective data would be quite difficult to come by and not really in the snipers' interest However, as you can see, by using overall data and then claiming that the averages are only in the 6-7 knot range, what the snipers are stating is simply Not True.
I, personally, thought that Alinghi defended its position well, amongst the criticism, and answered all questions in a succint and intelligent manner. The press, in general, went away satisfied, in the knowledge that it would have been highly unlikely, if not impossible, for the Alinghi organisation to have had knowledge of, manipulated, or set in motion some grand scheme to retain the Cup. It is just too far fetched, for it to be remotely feasible. Meanwhile, for my part in all this, no doubt the snipers will be banging on my door trying to flame me, for manipulating their precious figures and showing them to be nonsense. I don't mind.