by Cliff Webb
San Diego (USA,CA) - 34th America’s Cup - San Diego America’s Cup World Series - Port Cities Challenge Day 1
Team Korea was back in action for the start of the third regatta in the America’s Cup World Series in San Diego today, competing in the Port Cities Challenge, the warm up act for the main event which begins next week with both Fleet Racing and Match Racing contests.
However the weather was far from warm here in southern California, with driving rain and a light breeze playing havoc with the Race Committee’s plans to stage 3 races, as dark overcast gloom engulfed San Diego through the afternoon, creating a scene eerily similar to the opening day of the ACWS circuit which kicked off back in August in Cascais, Portugal.
With big wind shifts and holes around the course, the slightest pressure made a huge difference to performance through the opening race, the course crammed into the upper part of San Diego Bay near the eastern shore, one gate seemingly set just metres off Broadway Pier – ideal for those hardy spectators who braved the inclement weather. Artemis from Sweden went from last place to win this long race after riding the perfect gust on the final leg to the finish line, Emirates Team New Zealand tagging along behind to claim second place, while Team Korea slid home sixth.
After the slow painful tacks and gybes of Race 1, especially around the turn gate in the wind shadow of the giant USS Midway aircraft carrier, a veteran of the Vietnam war which is now a floating museum, the AC slogan of the ‘Best sailors on the fastest boats’ slowly picked up the pace in race 2 as hulls began to fly and some respectable speeds were notched up in the gradually increasing breeze, but with continued drenching rain.
12/11/2011- San Diego (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - San Diego America's Cup World Series - Port Cities Challenge Day 1
This time it was China Team who took the honours, delighted to score their first race win, while both Team Korea and ORACLE Racing Spithill started early and were penalised two boat lengths, denting their plans to be competitive in this race. ORACLE Racing Coutts, helmed this regatta by Aussie Darren Bundock, came through for second place and ETNZ took third to consolidate their earlier result and once again finish top of the pile with the combined points, though just 2 points separate the top four overall.
Team Korea skipper Chris Draper (UK) admitted afterwards, ‘’we didn’t give ourselves much of a chance in that race with the mistake at the start’’. Slowing down saw them then ‘seesaw’ back and forth at the back of the pack, sometimes gaining ground and then losing again in the still fickle conditions, but eventually crossing the line last of the nine boat fleet. He continued, ‘’we thought we were fine at the start and it must have been a super close call. It was hard racing today, and that second one was really tough in miserable conditions, especially when you’re trying to play ‘catch up’. It was a good learning experience, we’ve only had light winds here and been sailing the last couple of days, so it was a good practice day ahead of the really important races next week’.
They begin Wednesday with the seeding races for the ACWS – San Diego Match Racing Championship. Team Korea is presently second overall after the combined results of the first two regattas, having reached the finals in Plymouth, UK where they lost to ETNZ. Tomorrow however it’s the final three races in the Port Cities Challenge with a much improved weather forecast hopefully offering spectators in San Diego the chance to enjoy some spectacular racing in far sunnier and warmer conditions.
America’s Cup World Series - San Diego
Port Cities Challenge Fleet Racing Championship after 2 races
Emirates Team New Zealand 17 points
Artemis Racing 17
China Team 16
ORACLE Racing - Coutts 16
ORACLE Racing - Spithill 11
Energy Team 10
Green Comm Racing 8
Team Korea 8
About Team Korea
The America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sport at 160-years old. Team Korea is the newest team in the oldest international sporting competition, representing the Sail Korea Yacht Club, and joining the contest at a time when the country is one of the one of leading economies in the world. The team is fondly known as the ‘White Tiger Challenge’, the White Tiger a revered and ancient Guardian God of the west in Korean mythology. Sponsors of the team include Sail Racing high performance clothing.