America's Cup World Series San Diego
November 12-20, 2011

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James Spithill and crew share post-race refreshments with fellow competitors ETNZ.  Oracle4 won both the Fleet Racing and Match Racing portions of the ACWS in San Diego, and now trail the Kiwis by just one point in the season overall standings.
Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

America's Cup World Series San Diego

Sunday Nov 20:
Fleet Race Championship (One 40-minute Fleet Race) following Speed Trial (2 runs per boat).
Race at 1:55 pm PT.  Sunday Outlook and Results

On this page (click links or scroll down):
Feature Stories | Race Results

Race Reports:
Port Cities Challenge
San Diego Day 1: Team Statements  
San Diego Day 2: Wins for ETNZ, Aleph, Artemis, and Energy  Race Report | Team Statements
Match Race Championship:
Wednesday Nov 16: Seeding (Fleet)
Thursday Nov 17: Qualifying (Match)
Friday Nov 18: Semi-finals (Match)
Saturday Nov 19: Finals and Place Matches

Where to Watch the Racing:
America's Cup YouTube Channel | Live WebCam
Read more about ACWS TV/Online Broadcasts

Animated Virtual Coverage: VirtualEye

ACWS San Diego Stories:


From the Finn to the Cup

Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

Ed Wright, crew on GreenComm: "On these boats, it’s pure multitasking.  You have to be able to pick up one second and put it down the next second, do it very quickly, and have your head both inside and outside the boat.  So it’s very physical and you have to be very aware.  I admire the guys at the top at the moment, it’s just incredible how they’ve been able to test everything so quickly and we’re still learning how to get these techniques down."
Read more with Ed Wright

Tornado Skills in the ACWS

Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

 Charlie Ogletree, Skipper of China Team: "I thought the wing sail, being a hard wing, would be completely different from a sail.  But the feeling on the boat is the same -- you still have depth, you still have twist, you still have a sheet.  So you sail the boat the same, there are just nuances on how you adjust it and tune it that are different from a soft sail, but the basic concept and the feeling on the boat is still the same."
Read More with Charlie Ogletree

More ACWS Stories:

Sailor and Broadcaster Peter Isler:  "...For me it’s great to have been a part of it and to continue being part of telling the Cup story but I’m in awe of the America’s Cup and it keeps changing and it continues to evolve.  It’s unlike any other event anywhere and that’s the thing about the Cup." 
Read more at SailBlast

Guests Onboard the AC45s: "Some of (the guests) probably wanted to scream, but they are not allowed to," said Vasilij Žbogar, skipper of the Spanish team GreenComm.  "There was one guy who was with us, he was doing this ..." Žbogar bowed his head and muttered furiously, then looked up smiling. "When we looked at him, we thought he was praying."

Tricks of the Bay - Local Knowledge Helps Kiwis:
Dean Barker: “The track is very difficult with the current and the wind. It’s a one-sided sailing track making it a quite tricky venue. The light, patchy winds and the tide punishes mistakes.”

Rod Davis: “All the little tweaks of San Diego Bay started coming back to me last spring when we raced the RC-44 sloops over the same course,” said Davis. “Those races refreshed my memory.”
Read more at SignOnSanDiego

Tiger Team

Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

 Team Korea's Chris Draper, skipper of the White Tiger Challenge:

"We’ve been working so hard to improve our match racing that we’ve let the fleet racing slide a little bit, so it’s important that we get the balance back.  But we’re really pleased to be where we are -- we’re under no illusions of where we are actually at.  We’re very aware that those are pretty good results and we’re pleased with that."
 Read More with Chris Draper

AC45 Tech:

Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

What's new in SD?  To the right of the America's Cup-winning billionaire in the above photo is the latest addition to the Cup cats, the Christmas Tree.  What does it do?
 Read more at CupInfo

Bringing the Cats to San Diego

SEA San Diego's John Laun. Photo:©2011 Christy Radecic

John Laun watched the America’s Cup making its “victory tour” around San Diego in 2010 and knew the city still had the interest and the ability to run a Cup regatta.  With Chuck Nichols he formed Sailing Events Association San Diego to make that a reality.  On the eve of the America’s Cup World Series in San Diego, Laun talked to Diane Swintal about the steps they took to secure the regatta, lessons learned, and what it will take for the event to be a success in his view:

“We always knew it would be hard, because we had a very compressed time frame.  And there was a lot to learn -- the RC44 regatta and the America’s Cup World Series are very different in terms of our role, and certainly the America’s Cup World Series is a much more complex event."

Read interview with John Laun at CupInfo

Italians To View ACWS San Diego

The Luna Rossa Team, which in recent weeks became an official late entry for the 2013 America's Cup, will send team members to San Diego for the America's Cup World Series, November 12-20, on an observational basis.

Read Luna Rossa Press Release


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Results Also see Full ACWS SD Results Page



Sunday Nov 20:

Congratulations for Spithill and crew as they add the San Diego Fleet Race Championship to their total. Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

America's Cup World Series San Diego
Championship Fleet Race: Sunday Nov 20

Fleet Race Championship Final:
One 40-minutes Fleet Race
Start schedule for 2:00 pm PT.
AC 500 Speed Trial, two runs each boat.

Fleet Race:
Underway! Spithill and Oracle4 leading, Korea and Energy fighting for second. Onto the 6th of 9 legs, it's a 29-second lead for Oracle4. Korea, ETNZ, and Energy in a tight pack behind them about 30 seconds. Oracle maintains at the next mark, Korea still second at rounding, but ETNZ gains, crosses ahead of Korea into second. Second to last leg, ETNZ has 5 seconds on Team Korea.

Oracle rounds the last mark and wins the Fleet Racing Championship Race, making a sweep for Spithill this weekend.  ETNZ 2nd, Energy 3rd, Aleph 4th by barely meters, Korea 5th, Artemis catches China on the last leg for 6th, China 7th, GreenComm8th, Oracle5 9th.

Oracle4 wins the San Diego Fleet Race Championship, to bookend their Match Racing Championship victory yesterday, and now trail Emirates by just one point in the combined 2011-12 Season standings.

Winds S 13 mph becoming SE 15 mph (WindFinder). Winds S 6-11 kts, rain and thunderstorm possible late afternoon (NWS).  Low tide 11:21 am, High Tide 5:07 pm.

 Photo:©2011 Guilain Grenier/Oracle Racing
ETNZ and Energy waged a fierce battle in Oracle4's wake, vying along with Korea for second place.  The Kiwis eventually claimed it, which protected a one-point season lead for them, and Energy took third.

OR5 flirting with disaster in the Speed Trial.
Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget


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Saturday Nov 19:

Energy and Oracle4 in a Match Racing Showdown, Saturday. The #1-seeded French challenger, skippered by Yann Guichard, lost 2-0 to James Spithill and crew.
Guilain Grenier/Oracle Racing

America's Cup World Series San Diego
Finals: Saturday Nov 19

Match Race Championship Final:
Energy versus Oracle4
Best of Three Series

Also Placing Matches preceding the Final:
ETNZ versus Artemis (3rd-4th)
Aleph versus Oracle5 (5th-6th)
Korea defeats GreenComm (7th-8th)
Placing matches are one race each pair.
China has placed 9th See Brackets

First race start scheduled for 1:05 pm PT.

Race 1 (7th-8th Placing):
Korea versus GreenComm.  Despite penalty at the start, Korea sailed conservatively, until they found separation and passed the Spanish.  Team Korea places 7th, beats GreenComm who places 8th.

Race 2 (5th-6th Placing):
Aleph versus Oracle5, start at 1:50 pm.  Aleph rolls Oracle5 early, 16-second delta at first leeward gate. 30 seconds lead to FRA at the top gate. Oracle5 closes slightly, but the French maintain a lead coming into Gate 5 while Oracle finds a hole and drops back, the lead slipping from 90m to 300m. Aleph wins by 48 seconds to take 5th place, Oracle5 6th.

Race 3 (3rd-4th):
ETNZ versus Artemis, start at 2:15 pm, early lead to ETNZ delta 12 seconds, they take the right side with better pressure.  ETNZ turns left, bad wind shift forces Artemis to follow at the last minute, ceding more time to ETNZ, 200m lead downwind.  Aggressive moves from the trailing Swedes on the last upwind, lead closing to 140m, but the Kiwis give a loose cover with the last windward gate coming up.  The boats split on the last downwind, ETNZ taking the right side, taking a calculated risk, but no room for Artemis to exploit it.  Kiwis cruising to the finish, beating Artemis to claim 3rd place.

Energy versus Oracle4 (Spithill) in best-of-three series.  First race underway at 2:40. Early lead to Energy. Spithill find better wind on Leg 5 and reels them in, getting a left shift, tries to cross, and makes it. Dial down before the mark punishes Energy more.  18-second delta for Oracle at the top gate.  Oracle wins and takes a 1-0 lead in the Finals. Second race, Oracle does it again, this time a slight lead that they maintain throughout the race, wins the Match Race Final 2-0 over Energy!

Winds WSW 9 mph (WindFinder). Winds SSW 6-8 kts becoming W, morning rain should clear by 10 am (NWS).  Low tide 10:18 am, High Tide 3:50 pm, flood current for most races, maximum current predicted at 12:55 pm, slack water at 4:00 pm.

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Energy ramped it up on Friday, beating Artemis 2-0, to meet Oracle4 in the Finals.
Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

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The Boss Stick: Larry Ellison takes the helm of Oracle4 following their victory in the Semi-Finals.
Guilain Grenier/Oracle Racing

America's Cup World Series San Diego
Semi-Finals: Friday - Nov 18

Match Race Championship:

Semi-Final Match #1:
#2 Seed ETNZ vs. #3 Seed Oracle4 (Spithill)

Semi-Final Match #2:
#1 Seed Energy vs. #4 Seed Artemis

First Race Start Scheduled for 1:05 pm.
Each Semi-Final Match is best of three races.

Friday Races:
SF1 Race 1:
Oracle4 beats ETNZ to take 1-0 series lead.
SF2 Race 1:
 Energy beats Artemis to take 1-0 series lead.
SF1 Race 2:
 Oracle4 beats ETNZ again, taking the match 2-0 to advance to the Match Race Finals.
SF2 Race 2:
 Underway! Artemis ahead early but Energy passes on Leg 2, still leads by 23 seconds after Leg 3, and continues to extend with the last gate coming up.  Wind is slipping, and Artemis loses pace.  Energy gybes home for the finish line, and Loďck Peyron's "Dudes" beat Artemis 2-0 and move on!

Energy and Oracle4 Spithill) will meet in the Match Race Final Series on Saturday.


Energy advances to the Match Race Final.
Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

Thursday Outlook:
Conditions: Wind SW 6-7 mph (WindFinder). SW 5-7 kts, light and variable (NWS).  High Tide 2:20 pm.

 The Swedes find themselves the meat in a French sandwich today, having battled a sizzling hot Aleph yesterday to get to the Semi-Finals and race Energy.  With a 1-3-5 finishes, Energy placed at the top of the fleet in the seeding races, suggesting that the longtime French affinity for multihulls is beginning to show dividends in the America's Cup. 

ETNZ vs. Oracle4 (Spithill) is a good pairing, too, a rematch of the Cascais Match Race Championship Final, which Spithill won 2-0 over the Kiwis.

 Emirates was not fast enough to derail James Spithill and Oracle4 in the Semi-Finals. Photo:©2011 Chris Cameron/ETNZ


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 Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget
Artemis Racing put an end to Aleph's charge from 8th seed. The French beat their first three opponents and had taken the lead in Q5 when the match had to be re-started.  Artemis won a back-and-forth battle on the second try and advanced to Friday's Semi-Final. 

America's Cup World Series San Diego:
Thursday - Nov 17

Match Race Championship:
Qualifying Races Today
First Race Start Scheduled for 1:05 pm
Each qualifying match today is a single 18-minute race between the competitors, pairings as follows:


Aleph (W) Q1 China (L)
Oracle5 (W) Q2 GreenComm (L)
Korea (L) Q3 Aleph (W)
Oracle5 (L) Q4 Aleph (W)
Artemis (W) Q5 Aleph (L)

Artemis advances to Semi-Final Friday

See Full MRC Pairings/Brackets

Q1: Complete! Aleph beats China.

Q3: Q3 will be the second match held today, with Q2 delayed due to problems on Oracle5. Start at 1:45 pm. Aleph gets a jump at the start and round ahead of Korea at the first mark. Aleph wins again!

Q2: Start at 2:15 pm. Oracle5 into early lead. Oracle5 beats GreenComm, advances to face Aleph in Q4.

Q4: Start at 2:45 pm. Aleph leads, but Oracle5 gaining with two legs to go. Aleph wins a third time today!

Q5: Aleph takes a penalty in pre-start for late entry, manages to catch up in first beat, port-starboard situation near boundary green-flagged by umpires.  Minutes later, with Aleph flying away on a 4-knot speed differential the race was cancelled due to technical difficulties as Race Management loses ability to manage course boundaries.

Q5 Re-Rerun: Second start, Aleph fails to keep clear, gets penalized again in pre-start and is 35 seconds behind at Mark 2, wind dropping to 4 knots.  Artemis extends lead to 1:04 after first upwind.  Big pressure for the French who chose the correct left side, flying a hull with 3+ knot speed advantage to claw back 100m from Artemis midway through the fourth leg.  With one gybe less than Artemis, the French recoup another 75m by the Mark 4 rounding and capture the lead at beginning of last beat!

"Aleph likes the left!" shouts Geordie Shaver, as the top boats exchange the lead on VirtualEye.  At Mark 5, Artemis finds the two meters they need to tack ahead of the French.  Terry cheers "We're in a Match!"  Seven seconds ahead, the Swedes are first to gybe, opening the door again and leaving the French on the left side of the course.  Iain Percy guides Artemis to a nice line of breeze as they extend to finish 40 seconds ahead of the French.  "Live to fight another day," Terry Hutchinson declares, congratulating the team for a race well sailed. Artemis will race Energy on Friday in the Semi-Finals.

The loss puts an end to Aleph's outstanding performance, which notably was Pierre Pennec's first Match Racing exercise onboard an AC45, beating China, Korea, and Oracle5 (Coutts)!


Aleph dispatched China, Korea, and Oracle5 before nearly beating Artemis, too. Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

Thursday Outlook:

Wind WNW 10 mph, dropping to 8 mph late afternoon (WindFinder).  Wind NW 7 kts (NWS).  High Tide 12:46 pm, ebb tide during racing.

Two teams stand out to watch in the Qualifying Match brackets.  Korea stormed from a #6 seed into the Match Race Finals in Plymouth, and by team skipper Chris Draper's own admission they have focused much more preparation on match racing than on the fleet racing that gave them a #5 seed this time.  The newest face at the helm here is Darren Bundock, stepping in for Russell Coutts on sixth-seeded Oracle5.  Yesterday, Bundock rocketed into an early lead in Seeding Race 1 and stayed there, showing a good hint of why Russell picked him.  But what does Bundock bring to the table for match racing?  Fans and competitors will be curious to find out.

Which is not to look past Aleph and China, who both notched their first fleet race wins this week, and GreenComm, who improved to a third in Race 3 yesterday.  The reward for the hot boat among the bottom five seeds is a battle against Artemis for a slot in Friday's Semi-Finals.  Everybody is getting better, and Match Racing today should provide a good gauge of progress across the line-up.

Darren Bundock's ACWS Match Race debut was a Q2 victory over GreenComm, but Oracle 5 lost to Aleph in Q4. Photo:©2011 Guilain Grenier/Oracle Racing



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Oracle5 made it look easy at first, winning the first of the three Match Racing Championship seeding races Wednesday.  The 6th Seed overall, they will face GreenComm in Q2 Thursday. Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

America's Cup World Series San Diego:
Wednesday - Nov 16

Artemis won Race 2, earned 4th seed, and will race Thursday in Qualifier 5. Photo:©2011 Chris Cameron/ETNZ

Match Race Championship starts today:
Three Seeding Fleet Races: Start time 1:05 PM PT
One Long (40-min)/Two short (18-min)
Followed by Speed Trial (Two Runs per Boat)

Race 1: Complete
 Oracle5 (Coutts), skippered by Bundock sails into the lead and stays there.  Delta 39 seconds to ETNZ in second, Energy third, with 2 legs to go. And they finish in that order!  Korea 4th, Oracle4 (Spithill) 5th, China 6th, Artemis 7th, GreenComm 8th, Aleph 9th. 

Race 2: Complete
Started at 2:10 pm.  Korea into early lead, followed by ETNZ and Energy.  Penalty before the start for Oracle5. Finish: Artemis wins! Korea 2nd, ETNZ 3rd, Oracle4 4th, Energy 5th, Aleph 6th, China 7th, Oracle5 8th, GreenComm 9th.

Race 3: Complete
Started 2:50 pm. Oracle4 was OCS. GreenComm into the early lead, Energy 2nd, Artemis 3rd.  Energy rounds top mark first, GreenComm close in second, Artemis 3rd. At the finish: Energy 1st, Oracle4 2nd, GreenComm 3rd, Artemis 4th, ETNZ 5th, Oracle5 6th, Aleph 7th, Korea 8th, China 9th.

Energy wins, and takes the top seed for Match Race Brackets! 
See results and Thursday's Qualifying Pairings

Winds WNW 8 mph (WindFinder). Winds E 5-10 mph, becoming N (NWS).  High Tide 11:32 am/Low tide 7:18 pm means ebb current during racing.

Watch it:
Full streaming coverage online YouTube Channel and some in-state television options, plus the webcam.

Team New Zealand didn't win a race today, but performed consistently enough to lock up the #2 Seed. Photo:©2011 Chris Cameron/ETNZ

Wednesday Outlook:
Things get more serious today after Tuesday's relatively light hearted press conference with the skippers.  Today's three fleet races serve to set up the qualifying brackets for the next three days of match racing to determine the San Diego Match Race Championship.  The top three seeds have a much easier path, but as Team Korea proved in Plymouth, seeding is not destiny.

Forecast is for lighter winds, along with some currents, which may put a little more premium on exploiting local knowledge.  The seeding races in Plymouth were topped by the familiar names or ETNZ, Artemis, and Oracle5 (Coutts), but last Sunday's exhibition fleet races saw ETNZ and Artemis battling it out just to avoid last place in the second race of the day, evidence of how quickly these races can get away from anyone.

Also of interest to watch in these races is how the new OCS rule and signaling system will promote aggressiveness about being over the line or not.


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America's Cup World Series San Diego:
Sunday - Day 2

Cats on the move in San Diego.
Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

Fleet Racing Today Nov 13: Three Races
First Race start scheduled for 1:05 pm PT.

One 40-minute race followed by two 18-minute races. If time permits, the postponed Race 3 from Saturday will also be sailed.

Race 1: Underway! ETNZ leading handily takes first. Oracle4 (Spithill) 2nd, Energy 3rd, Korea 4th, Aleph 5th, Artemis 6th, China 7th, Oracle5 8th, GreenComm 9th.

Race 2: Start at 2:10 pm PT. Wind has picked up a bit. Energy in the lead at the first mark, ETNZ got the shut out at the line, blocked by the RC boat and had to circle behind the line before starting.  Two penalties on Korea.  Oracle5 into the lead, edges past Energy, but gets a penalty in the process and has to slow, letting Energy and Aleph pass. 

Aleph wins! This is Aleph's first Fleet Race win, their best previous finishes being two 4th places in Plymouth. Korea 2nd, Oracle5 3rd, Energy 4th, Oracle4 5th, GreenComm 6th, ETNZ 7th, China 8th, Artemis 9th.

Race 3: Start at 2:50 pm PT. Artemis Wins!

Race 4 (Re-try for postponed race from Saturday):  Start at 3:30 pm PT.  Energy Wins!

Read Day 2 Team Statements

ETNZ wins the Port Cities Challenge overall. Oracle4 (Spithill) is second, Artemis is third.
results table
Click to see Port Cities fleet race results

Day 2 Outlook:

 Winds W 3-8 mph, veering northerly late (Official). Winds WNW 8-10 mph (Windfinder). Wind W 5 mph (Weather Underground).  Calm wind becoming W at 5 mph (NOAA). Light showers this morning should clear up by race time.

Upper Deck: Beautiful weather brought out the crowds on Sunday.  Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget
Upper Deck: Beautiful weather brought out the crowds on Sunday.  Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

  Update: Live coverage is now streaming today on the America's Cup YouTube Channel, despite earlier word that the first two days of fleet racing would not be carried on TV or the internet.  This is a "light" coverage" package without onboard cameras or all four video feeds, but perfectly workable for following the racing.

Day 2 Preview:
Light winds will again put a premium on finesse in boat handling, and even more so on wind-spotting.  Representatives from local towns will be sailing aboard the AC45's today as part of the Port Cities Challenge.  Even small differences in weight can have a performance impact on days like this, as weight distribution and wetted surface influence drag, so as required by the rules, a system of added weights will be used to make sure that the boats carry a nearly equal load even though onboard guests might vary in size.

Energy was one of two boats to bring home their first ACWS fleet race win on Sunday.  Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget
Energy was one of two boats to bring home their first ACWS fleet race win on Sunday.  Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget



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ACWS San Diego:
Saturday - Day 1

Bill Koch, 1992 Defender of the America's Cup with his America3, was the guest onboard Oracle4 with James Spithill Saturday. Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

Fleet Racing Today Nov 12: Three Races
First Race start scheduled for 1:05 pm PT.

Race 1: Underway in light winds. Spithill off to an early lead, with guest 1992 America's Cup winner Bill Koch onboard.  At the gate, it's still Oracle4, then Artemis, Aleph, and China.  Wind staying light, water f-l-a-t, it's Oracle5 into the lead, followed by China.  At the finish, Artemis wins, ETNZ 2nd, Oracle4 (Spithill) 3rd, Oracle5 (Coutts) 4th, China 5th, Korea 6th, Energy 7th, Aleph 8th, GreenComm 9th.

Race 2: 2:25 pm: Start Abandoned due to wind shift. Correction, despite earlier reports, racing is not abandoned for the day, but PRO will try to get another start at about 20 minutes after the hour, 3:20 pm, now 3:30 pm looks firm.  RC is determined to get the race in if possible.  Race 2 is underway!  Wind is a bit better, though rain is coming down steadily.

China wins Race 2! Oracle5 2nd, Emirates TNZ 3rd, Artemis 4th, Energy 5th, GreenComm 6th, Aleph 7th, Oracle4 (Spithill) 8th, Korea 9th.

The win for China is their first in America's Cup AC45 Fleet Racing. Their previous best finish was a third in the seeding fleet races on September 15 in Plymouth.
 See Port Cities Challenge Results

Also: See Day 1 Team Statements

Racing Resumes tomorrow, scheduled for 1:05 pm PT.

Artemis finding some air on Day 1. Click image to enlarge and read more.  Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

Observations from Day One of the America’s Cup World Series in San Diego, from Diane Swintal:

Emirates Team New Zealand and Artemis Racing finished the day equal on points. However, ETNZ was given the lead since they had finished higher than Artemis in the second race.

San Diego has been paying attention to what works and, despite a Day One weather outlook that kept all but the hardiest of sailing junkies at home, put together a race village layout that was simple and easy for spectators.  Team bases are concentrated mostly on the Navy Pier, with the media center and viewing areas on the adjacent Broadway Pier.  Rather than having the boats hidden behind shrouds and ornate compounds, the AC45s are moored between the two piers, with the public able to watch the boats set up and head out to the race course which is right in front of both piers.  And if you’re on the USS Midway, high above the waterline, you have the best seat in the house.  Though on the cold and rainy first day, the best seat in the house might very well have been a window seat at the (warm, dry, and well lubricated) Fish House.

The crowd:
Interestingly, the ACEA has no plans to add bleachers to the end of Broadway Pier, preferring to maintain the “open space” concept.  Fine in theory -- but trying to catch the action behind a five-deep crowd isn't so easy in practice.

The art of racing in the rain, viewed from the Broadway Pier on Day 1 of the America's Cup World Series San Diego. Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

The race course:
Reaching legs, discarded for the ACC and Version 5 Cup races, and multiple marks are great for the AC45s, which accelerate off a dime -- though a challenge for spectators or announcers, since keeping track of where the boats have been and where they are going (is this Lap Two, or Lap Three???) reads sort of like a Scandia Race Week course guide.

Passing lanes:
The AC45s have passing capabilities the monohull Cup boats could only dream of.  Case in point: Artemis Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand had nightmare starts in the first race on Saturday, well behind for much of the early part of the race -- only to find themselves on the correct end of wind shifts and maneuvers that put them into first and second place, respectively.  If they had been as far out of contention in the Version 5 boat as they were on Saturday, the television coverage would have stopped showing them.

The announcers:
Cup veterans Peter Isler and Annie Gardner ably handled the commentary for everyone watching from the pier areas.  Isler and Gardner delivered the race analysis with a good mix of information for the newbie and insight for the seasoned Cup viewer. 

Next up:
On Sunday morning, Mike Martin, the Director of Umpiring and Rules Administration for the America’s Cup Regatta Management, will give us the 411 on the new illumination array on the back of the boats dubbed the "Christmas Tree” for its flashing red and green lights.  Y Flags are so last decade.

Read more about the Christmas Tree in AC45 Tech

Sweden's Artemis draws a crowd to the bow of the USS Midway during training on Friday.
 Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

Saturday Outlook:
The America's Cup World Series in San Diego opens this weekend with the "Port Cities Challenge", consisting of three fleet races each day Saturday and Sunday.  Five of the nine teams will be representing local California towns as a means of drawing residents in to root for the crews.  Unlike the first two ACWS events, the first two days of fleet racing will not be shown live on TV or the internet, and coverage will instead begin with the Match Racing Championship begins on Wednesday.

 Clearing rain with winds becoming SSE to SSW 6-11 knots by race start, intermittent rain (Official site).  Winds S, 170 degrees at 9 mph, 80% chance of rain (Weather Underground).  Winds SE 17 Knots (Windfinder).  Winds S 10-15 mph, gusting to 20, 90% chance of rain with possible thunderstorms late afternoon (NOAA).  Low Tide at 4:07pm, currents will be near maximum ebb around race time.  A high surf advisory is also issued for beaches in the area, but this should not have a major impact inside the harbor.

 With two regattas under their belts, some of the experience and preparation factors should begin to settle out among the teams.  Even the newer crews have had a chance to get used to the wingsail and all teams are adapting to the tactics demanded of the unconventional race courses, rules changes, and new technologies of the ACWS.  This is a chance to sail a bit more smoothly, focus on execution, and continue learning in anticipation of launching the big AC72 yachts next year.

Event organizers will also be hoping to show off how the new racing program works both as sport and spectacle close-in to a major city, and demonstrate that the AC45 catamarans can provide exciting racing here, dispelling perceptions of light conditions and limited excitement that linger in some minds from the 1992 and 1995 America's Cup Defenses.  The RC44 regatta in the same waters last March was a good warm-up, and the reception the ACWS receives in San Diego should be just a little preview of what's to come in San Francisco less than 20 months from now.

Day 1 Morning Report from Diane Swintal at the ACWS:

Good morning from a rainy (and rather chilly) San Diego!

For those of you wondering about the fact that Southern California appears to actually have weather, remember that following the lyric “It never rains in California” come the words “It pours, man, it pours….” With 20 minutes until the warning gun, Point Loma is barely visible as a steady rain falls.

Click image to view webcam. Image:© 2011 ACEA

Regatta Director Iain Murray will run three races today and again tomorrow in the Port Cities Challenge -- the first being a longer race of three laps over a race course of approximately one mile, and two shorter races that most likely will be two laps on a course anywhere from .5 to 1.5 mile, depending on the breeze.

As Murray noted, it’s an “unusual” breeze in San Diego today, due to the direction the low pressure is traveling.  Rain and wind will be on the front of each system as it moves through, with the wind direction predicted to be from the east -- meaning the top mark will sit underneath the public viewing area on the Broadway Pier.

Like the Congressional Cup in Long Beach, which parks the start line in front of the Belmont Pier, prompting teams to all but use the pier pylons as picks, John Craig,  the Principal Race Officer (PRO), hopes to bring the action as close to the spectators as possible -- possibly alarmingly close.

“We will be sailing to a boundary as close as John can physically do it,” said Murray.  “His goal is to set it two feet off the end of the Broadway Pier.  It creates problems for us electronically if the mark is within six lengths of the boundary, so we have to make sure we can keep the mark outside that distance.  The start will be just off the Midway."  The historic aircraft carrier will be a prime viewing spot, and on the pier the lucky front-row crowd will have a great view, but less so for those in back with no bleachers are set up, at least not yet.

“The breeze will fluctuate a great deal as it comes through the city, so a lot of fortunes will change approaching the top mark, depending on how the gusts go through the buildings.  It will require the best sailors in the world to be on their best to make the most of today.”


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