SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The second America’s Cup World Series in San Francisco begins Wednesday with qualifying racing for the match racing championship. A day later, the first two of seven scheduled fleet races kick off the event championship, which concludes Sunday.
The America’s Cup World Series is part of what is being billed as the busiest week of events in the city of San Francisco’s history. As many as 1,000,000 people are expected for events such Oracle OpenWorld (the largest technology conference in the world), the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival in Golden Gate Park, the Mill Valley Film Festival, home games for the San Francisco Giants and San Francisco 49ers, and San Francisco’s annual Fleet Week celebration.
Due to the AC World Series regatta coinciding with Fleet Week, racing this week will start later than at previous events.
“We have a challenging program this week,” said regatta director Iain Murray. “We’re working with Fleet Week, so most of our racing will be later in the day. On Super Sunday we’ll be participating in the air show with Fleet Week. The air show will start and then stop, we’ll sail our Super Sunday fleet race (scheduled to start at 1:55 p.m.), and then the air show will resume.”
“We have huge expectations for massive crowds that have never really been seen before in sailing to be here on Marina Green watching our event,” Murray said.
All 11 teams that raced the first AC World Series in San Francisco in August return, including (in order of standing): ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL (Jimmy Spithill), Luna Rossa Piranha (Chris Draper), Team Korea (Peter Burling), Energy Team (Loick Peyron), Luna Rossa Swordfish (Iker Martinez), Artemis Racing – White (Terry Hutchinson), Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker), ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS (Russell Coutts), Artemis Racing – Red (Nathan Outteridge), J.P. Morgan BAR (Ben Ainslie) and China Team (Phil Robertson).
“We have been able to get some training in last week and Ben and Russell have been pushing really hard, and I think Ben is right up to speed now,” said Spithill, who won the August ACWS. “He’s ready to go and win. I think we have three crews who can win this regatta, and that’s exciting for us. Personally, I’d love to see all three of us on that podium. But, having said that, everyone’s prepared well and has a chance of winning.”
While the boats are the same, some new hands are lined up for the tillers. Notably, 21-year-old Burling of New Zealand takes over Team Korea, Martinez of Spain joins Luna Rossa Swordfish and Outteridge of Australia joins Artemis Racing – Red.
Outteridge guided Team Korea to third in August, but has since joined Artemis Racing as the Challenger of Record looks to add some strength for the build up to next summer’s Louis Vuitton Cup. He will be racing this week with a veteran crew that includes team CEO Paul Cayard as his tactician.
“It’s been great sailing with Paul,” said Outteridge. “It’s been interesting teaching him how to sail the boat. He’s a bit of a legend in the sport and I’m one of the youngest guys in the team, but he’s been taking orders from me all week long. His knowledge of the Bay is a huge asset to our team. Once he’s worked out his roles on the boat mechanically he’s getting more time to get his head out of the boat and help me tactically around the racecourse.”
Like Outteridge and Burling, Martinez is the latest 49er champion to join the AC World Series fleet. Martinez and long-time crewman Xabi Fernandez (who also joined Luna Rossa) are double medalists in the 49er and three-time world champions.
Martinez says he’s never sailed a multi-hull before, much less raced one, but is excited for the opportunity.
“I’m feeling great and am very excited to join Luna Rossa,” said Martinez. “I think many things are transferable from 49er to the AC45. It’s a fast boat and especially the format of the races is similar…with a lot of boats rounding the marks together. The format of the racing is very similar, maybe not so much the boat, but the format of the racing.”
The AC Race Village will be located at Little Marina Green, and fans will again be able to watch the racing from shoreside bleachers.
The racing schedule:
Wednesday, Oct. 3
4:00-6:00 pm PDT Match Racing Qualifying
Thursday, Oct. 4
12:25-12:55 pm PDT Match Racing Quarterfinals
5:00-6:15 pm PDT Fleet Races 1 & 2
Friday, Oct. 5
4:00-4:35 pm PDT Match Racing Quarterfinals
4:50-6:00 pm PDT Fleet Races 3 & 4
Saturday, Oct. 6
4:00-4:35 pm PDT Match Racing Semifinals
4:50-5:55 pm PDT Fleet Races 5 & 6
6:10-6:25 pm PDT Match Racing Championship
Sunday, Oct. 7
1:55-2:25 pm PDT Fleet Race Championship
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