While the weather has been wet and gloomy up here in Seattle as of late, there’s been sunshine and excitement at Oracle Racing’s San Francisco base now that the team’s second wingsail has arrived from Core Builders in New Zealand. According to the latest reports, the Defender of the 34th America’s Cup plans to fit the new wing onto 'USA-17’s' now-repaired platform and be sailing again by early February. In the background, of course, is the build process of their second-generation AC72 and their third (and final) wing, both of which are expected to be online this spring.
'To see this turn up inside the shed is a big psychological boost for the whole team,' said Oracle Racing skipper Jimmy Spithill. 'Any day that looks good for sailing, we’ll be out there, capitalizing and really trying to put some hours on this wing and the boat.'
And speaking of wingsail-powered catamarans, Cup challengers Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa have been seen sparing just off of Auckland, New Zealand in their AC45s. ETNZ, it will be remembered, are the only team to use up their allotted 30 2012/2013 training days, and they are currently awaiting the fit-out of their second-generation AC72, which should be online in a few weeks’ time. Both teams have been intensely focused on their AC72 sailing, so this outing in the smaller cats was no doubt an opportunity to prepare for the (final) America’s Cup World Series regatta, which is slated to take place in Naples, Italy (April 16-24). Get the full Cup scoop, including an interesting Q&A with Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena, inside.
Meanwhile, in the singlehanded, nonstop-around-the-world Vendee Globe Race, British-flagged skipper Alex Thomson has been generating headlines through a well-executed navigational move that sees him hugging the coast of east South America, staying well to the west of leaders Francois Gabart ('Macif') and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire). For Thomson, this has translated to fast speeds and great position reports, and it leapfrogged him ahead of now fourth-placed skipper Jean-Pierre Dick ('Virbac-Paprec 3').
'The wind is getting smoother now after an intense night,' said Dick. 'According to the software, my journey will be quite similar with the leaders’ one. Alex is taking a great option and everything must be reconsidered. My strategy was good but, because of my little problem [Ed. Note: Dick suffered a rigging problem earlier this week], I'm not in the right timing anymore. But it's interesting; it's going to be a great fight.'
And in Olympic circles, US Sailing and the Oakcliff Sailing Center (Oyster Bay, NY) have announced a major new partnership that’s designed to seriously bolster the U.S Olympic sailing program. According to reports, Hunt and Betsy Lawrence, Oakcliff’s founders, have donated 24 Olympic class boats (eight Nacra 17s, eight 49ers and eight 49er FX skiffs), which will be available to the team for team training and youth development, year-round.
'We are thrilled to have Oakcliff as a partner and grateful for the support of Hunt and Betsy Lawrence in the U.S. effort to create winning national teams at all levels of Olympic class sailing,' said Josh Adams, Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing. 'Oakcliff’s fleet-building effort in the Nacra 17, 49er and 49er FX is a tremendous asset for the U.S. Olympic Sailing Program, providing a training platform for US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider that is designed to help generate a performance edge in these classes.'
And for anyone who could use a dose of sunshine, check out the race preview of the 52 Super Series, which begins with the Quantum Key West 2013 regatta (January 20-25). Here, six IRC/TP52s from both sides of the Pond are expected to turn out for what will no doubt prove to be some serious racing.
'To have the world’s best sailors from this class come and rub elbows with club racers really adds value to the event,' said Event Director Peter Craig. 'We are thrilled that the teams that joined us here last year saw just how great the racing can be and have chosen to make us the start of their Super Series this year.'
Also inside, check out the latest from the Australian Moth Championships, the Youth America’s Cup and check out the preview report from this year’s BVI Spring Regatta (March 29-31). Enjoy!
May the four winds blow you safely home,
by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor - 3:04 AM Fri 11 Jan 2013 GMT
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