by Selwyn Manning
Grey skies and squalls are providing testing conditions for Americas Cup challenger teams on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf today.
The wind is gusting up to 20 knots from the Northeast. The wind will test the yachts, the gear, the sails and the sailors.
As Ed Baird, skipper of Young America says, the wind is at the critical end of the spectrum. "Today's breeze will make it a maximum-load day, putting a premium on avoiding breakdowns," according to Ed Baird, skipper of Young America.
The focus today is on Spain's Bravo España and France's Le Défi Bouygues Telecom-Transiciel teams. The Spanish are only one point behind the French in the standings. It will be a grudge match for Le Défi Bouygues Telecom-Transiciel, as Bravo España beat the French yacht in Round Robin 1.
Stars & Stripes also gets another chance to beat Abracadabra 2000 today, after John Kolius and the Abracadabra crew lost yesterday to FAST 2000. If Stars & Stripes loses today it will still be ahead of the Abra team on the points table.
Switzerland's FAST 2000 faces AmericaOne today. America One is a favourite in this regatta but the Swiss have improved on their Round Robin 1 performance.
James Spithill and his Francesco de Angelis crew could still be fighting to beat Italy's Prada Challenge today. It is not very likely but possible. Francesco de Angelis sits low on the points table.
Peter Gilmour's Nippon Challenge faces Ed Baird and his Young America New York Yacht Club challenge. Both teams will be fighting for a win. Both are seasoned campaigners.