The historic waters off of Newport, Rhode Island are being graced by some of the fastest, most technically advanced boats afloat this week as the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) Newport event began today with a two-day practice session before the real racing begins on Thursday. Currently, Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ), Artemis Racing and the Defender, skipper Jimmy Spithill’s Oracle Racing Spithill team, are in contention for the overall 2011-2012 season trophy. But as the minutes tick down to the starting guns, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the real fight for the podium’s top step will be fought between Oracle Racing Spithill and skipper Dean Barker’s ETNZ.
'This is why we’re in the World Series, to be in regatta pressure and put ourselves on the line,' said Spithill, who is leading Barker by a small margin. 'I’d rather go in to the final event four points clear than the other way, but it’s extremely close. The best thing is it will be decided on the water, and it will be decided on Sunday.'
Like the other ACWS events, the Newport regatta will feature both fleet-racing and match-racing sections. According to Barker, the winner must have great acumen in both disciplines. 'We need to put together a good result in the Match Racing Championship which will set up the opportunity to take the overall title,' said Barker. 'Then it comes down to how well we fleet race. I think we have as good a chance as anyone.'
Also Cup related, veteran Cup writer Bob Fisher has put together an interesting report that looks at the crew numbers for the new AC72 class, which will be used to contest the 34th America’s Cup, and offers his great perspective on the ACWS Newport event. More, inside.
And in Olympic sailing circles, be sure to check out Dana Paxton’s interview with Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan, US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider’s Women’s 470 representatives for this summer’s Olympic Games. While Clark and Lihan are noticeably short on total elapsed time spent sailing together (only 15 months), their great performance at the 2011 ISAF Worlds in Perth, and their recent silver-medal finish at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, which took place in Weymouth—the site of this summer’s Games—proves that they are serious podium contenders. Find out more about what makes this duo so fast.
And in Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) circles, crews and shore teams are working fervently to prepare their boats for this weekend’s Bretagne In-Port Race (Saturday) and the start of Leg Nine (Sunday), which is the final offshore tussle of this edition of the VOR. Currently, Groupama is in the pole position, followed by Puma Ocean Racing and Telefonica, with Emirates Team New Zealand still in the fight. Get the updates in this issue, and stay tuned for more VOR-related media—including a much-anticipated announcement from Knut Frostad, VOR CEO, on Thursday about the new class of boat that will be used to contest the next edition of the race—as it goes online.
And for the technically orientated and inclined, Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com New Zealand’s editor, has put together an intersting piece that looks at state-of-the-art 'grey sails' and how North Sails’ 3Di sails have come to populate rigs and racecourses as diverse as the elegant J Class yachts that are racing in this week’s UK J Class Regatta Series (get the racecourse reports, inside) to the more utilitarian Wednesday-afternoon club racers found in a harbor near you.
And finally, be sure to get the latest news from the ongoing J/80 Worlds, the Clipper Around the World Yacht Race and the wrap-up report from the 20th Annual Scotiabank International Optimist Regatta, which just concluded in the USVI.
May the four winds blow you safely home,
by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor
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1:00 AM Thu 28 Jun 2012GMT
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