Americas Cup: Alinghi team explains recent weather pattern plaguing the Louis Vuitton Cup

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

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At a media briefing this morning, the Alinghi weather team, Jon Bilger and Jack Katzfey explained to the media the recent weather pattern that has been plaguing the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup. They gave the statistics of sailing days in Valencia from 2000 until now and an explanation of the tools they use to make their weather predictions. Alinghi team skipper, Brad Butterworth, was also present.

Here are some of the frequently asked questions, answered:   

1. Why do we have this irregular weather pattern in April?
“This April is very unusual in the sense that we have an atmospheric block over Europe which is not atypical, but it is a particularly strong block and the position of it is what is causing these weak winds over Valencia for a prolonged period,” explains Jack Katzfey.  

2. What are the statistics on sailing in April, May and June?
“The statistics from 2000 to 2007 are very good for April, May and June. They vary between 80 to 90% of sailing days. However the percentage this month has been just 50% versus the 80/90% so you can see that this has been an exceptionally bad year,” explains Jon Bilger.  

3. How do you make these weather predictions – what tools do you use?
“There are basically three things that you need, the first is analysis of the atmosphere, then you need a model of the atmosphere in which you input the analysis, then you run the model to give a prediction. That is a basic tool that most meteorological offices use to predict the weather,” explains Jack Katzfey.   

4. What is the Meteorological Data System and why was it set up?
“The MDS is made up of 21 weather buoys on the two race courses and some of them are further off the coast, plus six land based stations. All the teams have received the same data, this is the first time this has been done and it has been very useful. The motivation for doing this, was to avoid duplication of resources by having several weather boats from different teams sitting next to each other and to provide more detailed information on course winds. The desire to reduce costs of competition in the Cup was the initial motivation in creating this system,” Jon Bilger.  

5. What influence did Alinghi have on the selection of Valencia? 
Influence, none at all, the Alinghi weather team was commissioned by America’s Cup Management to supply a report on Valencia weather among eight other cities. ACM then made the selection through a bidding process, about which you will need to ask them for any detail,” Jon Bilger. 

6. Have Alinghi’s long-term predictions for June changed?
“No,” Jon Bilger.  

7. Armed with this year’s weather data to add to the existing data, would you still recommend Valencia to hold an LVC in April/May and the America’s Cup Match in June? 
“Yes of course, you can see from the data that this has been an exceptionally bad month, it has
been unlucky, but any venue at any time can suffer from this sort of thing. The weather is the
weather after all and it is uncontrollable,” Jon Bilger. 

8. Knowing what you know now, what other venue for the America’s Cup would you have recommended? 
“We still stand by our analysis that Valencia is a good sailing venue, it should not be judged on a single meteorological event,” Jon Bilger. 

Daphne Morgan Barnicoat
Alinghi Weather Team (from left to right): Jon Gilger, Jack Katzfey and Arnaud Monges: ©  Ivo Rovira/Alinghi)

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 25 April 2007 )