The America’s Cup World Series is coming to San Diego.
The World Series racing in San Diego will run from November 12th – 20th, and the battle is fought with the amazing new AC45’s, a 45’cat specifically designed as the initial sailing vehicle leading to the 2013 America’s Cup itself. (The actual Cup will be sailed in the new AC72’s still in the design/construction stages.)
With nine teams competing, the first World Series event, held in Cascais, Portugal, featured outstanding match racing and truly amazing fleet racing. In the match races, boats competed in a series of round robin events, going head to head with every other boat in the fleet. The fleet racing pitted all nine teams going full out, often at speeds in excess of 20 knots, across the course.
In the new World Series format, the final day of the racing schedule brings out a “winner takes all” race, with the winner crowned the Series victor. In the 10 days prior to that final have been the match races, fleet races, and new to the Cup program, a speed trial for each boat across a closed course.
While each of the races in Cascais were very competitive, it was obvious that the smallest error can mean the difference between winning and losing. Every sailor on the boats has commented on how fast the boats are and what a challenge it is to actually sail them. Races can be won and lost on a slow tack or a poor starting position. Or, conversely, a boat which is behind at the start, can by getting the right wind, fly past a competitor who has read the wind shifts wrong. (This is a huge difference from the historic monohull America’s Cup racing where the start meant almost everything in the race.)
The winning team in Cascais was Emirates Team New Zealand, winning the final “winner takes all” race. Every boat in the Series demonstrated the ability to win, which was amazing since several boats had been in the water for less than a month of training.
San Diego, the third stop on the World Series, will feature races around San Diego Bay, with most of the action very close to the shoreline. This means that these races will be visible to watchers throughout the bay, and will often be close enough to view without binoculars.
The San Diego Series will be the only one held on US soil during 2011, so it will be watched by hundreds of thousands of viewers. The team bases will be at the Navy Pier and the Broadway Pier. The America’s Cup Village will be along Harbor Drive. Prime spectator viewing areas will be along Harbor Island.
The teams are now in Plymouth, England prepping for the second of the World Series events. These will begin September 10th and run for 10 days. More information on the Plymouth Series can be found on the Cup’s website.
Good boating, and boat safely!