by Irene Corosu
The second America’s Cup World Series San Francisco gets underway tomorrow with qualifying racing for the match racing championship. The following day, the first two of seven scheduled fleet races kick off the event championship, which concludes Sunday, Oct. 7, with a live nationwide broadcast on NBC.
San Francisco (USA,CA): AC World Series San Francisco - The skippers (l.to r.): Phil Robertson (China Team), Iker Martinez (Luna Rossa Swordfish), Chris Draper (Luna Rossa Piranha), Loick Peyron (Energy Team), Ben Ainslie (J.P.Morgan BAR), Nathan Outteridge (Artemis Racing), Terry Hutchinson (Artemis white), Russell Coutts (ORACLE Team USA 5), James Spithill (ORACLE Team USA 4), Peter Burling (Team Korea), Dean Barker (Emirates Team New
The America’s Cup World Series San Francisco is part of what is being billed as the busiest week of events in the city’s history. As many as one million people are expected for events such Oracle OpenWorld (the largest technology conference in the world), the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival, home games for the San Francisco Giants and San Francisco 49ers, and San Francisco’s annual Fleet Week.
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 pm PDT), 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 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 San Francisco. '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’ll 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 multihull 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.'
As at the past two ACWS regattas, NBC will broadcast nationwide the 'Super Sunday' fleet racing championship. Racing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be broadcast by the America’s Cup regional media partner NBC Bay Area on its digital channel California NonStop (channel 186 on Comcast and 11.2 on over-the-air digital). California NonStop is on the air in select California markets, including San Francisco.
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 and 2
Friday, Oct. 5
4:00-4:35 pm PDT - Match Racing Quarterfinals
4:50-6:00 pm PDT - Fleet Races 3 and 4
Saturday, Oct. 6
4:00-4:35 pm PDT - Match Racing Semifinals
4:50-5:55 pm PDT - Fleet Races 5 and 6
6:10-6:25 pm PDT - Match Racing Championship
Sunday, Oct. 7: 1:55-2:25 pm PDT Fleet Race Championship
Click ACWS San Francisco Format for the full program, including pairings for the match races and points for the fleet racing.
AC World Series San Francisco website