The Atlantic Cup 2012 starts Friday in Charleston, South Carolina and will take a fifteen-strong fleet of Class 40 raceboats—raced double-handed—around Cape Hatteras and up the eastern seaboard to New York City. There, the fleet will enjoy a fun day of Pro-Am racing before another offshore leg, this one to Newport, Rhode Island. A final weekend of fully crewed, around-the-cans racing in Newport (May 26 and 27) serves as the event’s grand finale, and will draw crowds of onlookers.
While the casual observer will notice 15 identical-looking raceboats, the astute sailor will recognize international teams and many big names within Class 40 racing. Why? Because the 2012 Class 40 schedule involved the Solidaire du Chocolat, which took the fleet from France to Mexico, and this summer, the Transat Quebec-St. Malo race will bring the Class 40s home. In the interim, many teams are using the Atlantic Cup 2012 to tune up, and to deliver their boats to Quebec. By doing so, these sailors have provided the Atlantic Cup 2012 with some serious gravity and plenty of global attention.
Emma at the finish of the 2011 Mini Transat - Atlantic Cup - Emma Creighton
'For me, it's really cool to see my friends from the U.S. getting a taste of what it's like to hang out with the pros from France, and it’s very awesome to see the pros from France realize that the American group is worth talking to,' said American co-skipper Emma Creighton, who was the third American female to have completed the Mini Transat, which she tackled in 2011. 'I am really looking forward to sailing with Rob (Windsor; USA), and to experiencing a full-on double-handed event, without having to use my passport. And I’m ready to get offshore and to hopefully getting the big gear up!'
Other skippers agree. 'The atmosphere [here] on Wednesday night at the skipper’s welcome party and in general between the skippers has been excellent,' reported American co-skipper American Jesse Naimark-Rowse. 'Everyone is extremely excited about the size of this event and the fact that it's taking place in the United States—even the French! With school children visiting the boats, the media team interviewing everyone and the sailors finishing all their last-minute preparations, the energy level on the dock is high and I personally can't wait for the start!'
As for the draw, each sailor has his/her own reason, but many go something kind of like this: 'I like the long distance, then sprint, then [to] change it all up, [to] take everything off the boat and [to] switch to inshore-racing mode on this hot$%^ offshore racing boat—I dig the complexity of that,' said Windsor, Creighton’s co-skipper.
As for technical challenges, the skippers point to Cape Hatteras and the various currents as Leg One’s business district. 'From what it looks like right now, I'd say the current [will be the biggest challenge],' reports American Ben Poucher. 'From having the experience of getting out of Charleston, going around Hatteras and getting into New York a few times before this race, I know that all of these pieces can be very challenging. As far as Leg Two, again localized current, in addition to sea breezes, and the islands, will be the challenge.'
The fact that this is a golden opportunity for American shorthanded sailing to show the world that this doesn’t have to be a French-dominated sport isn’t lost on the skippers. 'In my mind this event is the future of Grand Prix-level shorthanded racing in the States,' said Naimark-Rowse. 'The event organizers are doing a remarkable job with all aspects of the event. I hope to see it grow and not just make this type of sailing more popular to sailors but more popular amongst the general public.'
Ask ten people any question and you’ll get ten answers, but Timmy Fetsch, Poucher’s co-skipper, summed it up why this event is so cool in the most poetic terms of those queried: 'We've never had a home game before!'
Stay tuned to the website and the newsletter for updates, as they become known.
by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor
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11:25 PM Thu 10 May 2012GMT
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