A chapter of America's Cup history closed, and a new one opened, with the departure of the then BMW Oracle Racing team from Valencia, Spain - headed for San Francisco, USA.
Taking advantage of a fortuitous break in the weather, Scott Sandford and a team from Oracle Racing were able to finish the loading of USA 17, the America’s Cup-winning trimaran, and its massive wingsail aboard the freighter M.V. Islefjord.
'Everything’s done,' said a relieved Sandford . 'The wing and platform are on. Everything’s latched and ready to go. It was a good day. We couldn’t ask for better weather.'
The loading process took two days in part because of strong winds yesterday that hampered the loading of the 70-meter (223-foot) wingsail. But it also took a long time because of the sheer amount of equipment. While the trimaran and wing are the featured pieces, there’s also an old ACC sloop, USA 76, chase boats, containers and even a crane that was acquired in Spain especially for the handling of USA 17.
'The unique challenge of this project is the sheer amount of equipment that had to be shipped,' said Anthony Motta of Masterpiece International, a customs broker and logistics agent based in Newport, RI.
'The trimaran is a huge project in and of itself,' Motta said. 'But you’ve also got the wing and other items that don’t fit into containers. There are support boats and 17 40-foot containers all in support of the boat. The amount of material to be shipped is a big deal. I’ve got a notebook of customs papers and invoices about an inch and a half thick.' Ten of the containers have been placed on deck and form a barrier around the wing to shield it from being buffeted by the wind.
Sandford said the M.V. Islefjord is scheduled to set sail this evening. Upon departing Valencia the M.V. Islefjord will make a constant right-hand turn, one towards the Strait of Gibraltar, another after clearing the Panama Canal and a third to enter San Francisco Bay.
'It’s the opposite of NASCAR,' Sandford quipped.
Depending on weather, the ship is scheduled to arrive March 1.