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Southern Spars

AC34, GP and Corinthian racing—Sailing news from the U.S. and beyond

by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor on 6 Sep 2013
05/09/2013 - San Francisco (USA,CA) - 34th America’s Cup - Final Match - Opening Press conference - James Spithill (ORACLE Team USA), The America’s Cup Trophy, Dean Barker (Emirates team New Zealand) ACEA - Photo Gilles Martin-Raget ©
With less than two days left to go before the start of the 34th America’s Cup, it’s conservative to say that the eyes of the sailing world are riveted to the waters of San Francisco Bay. Oracle Team USA-the Defenders-are set to meet Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) in a (sort-of) best-of-seventeen series that begins Saturday at 1315 hours, local time. As with all Cups, the first few races will offer the world’s first look at the design and performance differences between the two teams, and it could likely offer great insight into the outcome of the regatta.

As was discussed in the last newsletter, the International Jury penalized Oracle this week for the illegal weight that was discovered in the kingposts of several AC45s that the team maintained. As a result, Oracle’s wingsail trimmer, Dirk de Ridder, was expelled from the AC34, two more sailors (and several shore crew) received full or partial suspensions, the team received a fine, and-most worrisome for Oracle’s top brass-the first two points that the team earns on the racecourse will be automatically debited from their scorecard. This means that Oracle must win eleven races to retain the Auld Mug, while ETNZ only has to win nine to bring the trophy back home to Auckland.

In a recent press conference, Oracle’s skipper, Jimmy Spithill, reportedly tried to paint the Defender as the underdog, while Barker adhered to the team’s must-win party line. 'Anytime you’re the Defender, there’s a target on your back,' said Spithill. 'The challengers get together and their goal is simple: They want to come out, knock you out and take the America’s Cup off you. No matter what games transpire on shore, to take the trophy you have to win on the water. That’s what we’re looking for, to get on the water and go racing.'

According to the schedule, two races are expected to take place on both Saturday and Sunday (baring any wind-limit restrictions), followed by a lay day on Monday and another two races on Tuesday. Get the full pre-Cup report, inside, and stay tuned to the website for the latest news from San Francisco Bay, as it breaks.

Also on deck this weekend is the New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, where 20 teams from 13 countries will compete aboard NYYC Swan 42s for top Corinthian sailing honors. Four American teams will be on the starting line of this prestigious weeklong event, which will be contested on Narragansett Bay.

'I think each successive Invitational Cup should and will get tougher and stronger competitively,' said Ken Colburn, skipper of 'Apparition', which will represent the New York Yacht Club. 'The first time around there were great teams competing, but there were also teams that didn’t know what the event was going to be about. When they came back in 2011, they realized it was a tougher event and therefore prepared more. The teams that had Swan 42 experience under their belts were the teams that were in the best position to do well. I suspect this time we will see a similar breadth of talent amongst the competitors and we have been working very hard to get ready for a very challenging Invitational Cup.'

Also on the East Coast, a talented crew of eight junior sailors from American Yacht Club sailing aboard the J/122 'Patriot' won the prestigious Vineyard Lighthouse trophy, which goes to the boat with the fastest IRC corrected time in the Vineyard Race. 'I’ve never won a Vineyard Race, so this is a pretty magical moment,' said Peter Becker, who heads American Yacht Club’s junior big-boat program and was one of two adults aboard. 'And to do it with our young sailors makes it even better.' Get the full scoop, inside.

Meanwhile, at the 2013 Maxi Yacht Rolex Cup, the competition continues to get tougher in the Mini Maxi class, where George Sakellaris’ 'Shockwave' is currently leading Andy Soriano’s 'Alegre' and Niklas Zennstrom’s 'Ran 2'. 'Coming into this event we knew our boat is a little bit older than the others,' said 'Shockwave’s' tactician, Stuart Bannatyne. 'We’re not quite as big and powerful as some of the newer boats so we try set the boat to go well in light to medium conditions, which fortunately is what we’ve had so far and with some nice clean starts we’ve been able to sail our own race.'

Also inside, get the full briefing from the ongoing Dragon Gold Cup, check out the pre-racing reports from the 2013 U.S. Disabled Sailing Championships (September 6-8), and don’t miss the post-racing download from the Star Worlds.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

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