America's Cup World Series: San Diego
Fleet Racing - Saturday, Nov 13

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Race Report and Results:
America's Cup World Series San Diego: Fleet Racing - Day 1 - Port Cities Challenge

November 12, 2011

Oracle racing in the rain on ACWS San Diego Day 1. Photo:©2011 Guilain Grenier/Oracle Racing

ACWS San Diego: Day 1

Bill Koch, 1992 Defender of the America's Cup with his America3, was the guest onboard Oracle4 with James Spithill Saturday. Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

Fleet Racing Today Nov 12: Three Races
First Race start scheduled for 1:05 pm PT.

Race 1: Underway in light winds. Spithill off to an early lead, with guest 1992 America's Cup winner Bill Koch onboard.  At the gate, it's still Oracle4, then Artemis, Aleph, and China.  Wind staying light, water f-l-a-t, it's Oracle5 into the lead, followed by China.  At the finish, Artemis wins, ETNZ 2nd, Oracle4 (Spithill) 3rd, Oracle5 (Coutts) 4th, China 5th, Korea 6th, Energy 7th, Aleph 8th, GreenComm 9th.

Race 2: 2:25 pm: Start Abandoned due to wind shift. Correction, despite earlier reports, racing is not abandoned for the day, but PRO will try to get another start at about 20 minutes after the hour, 3:20 pm, now 3:30 pm looks firm.  RC is determined to get the race in if possible.  Race 2 is underway!  Wind is a bit better, though rain is coming down steadily.

China wins Race 2! Oracle5 2nd, Emirates TNZ 3rd, Artemis 4th, Energy 5th, GreenComm 6th, Aleph 7th, Oracle4 (Spithill) 8th, Korea 9th.

The win for China is their first in America's Cup AC45 Fleet Racing. Their previous best finish was a third in the seeding fleet races on September 15 in Plymouth.
 See Port Cities Challenge Results

Also: See Day 1 Team Statements

Racing Resumes tomorrow, scheduled for 1:05 pm PT.

Artemis finding some air on Day 1. Click image to enlarge and read more.  Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

Observations from Day One of the America’s Cup World Series in San Diego, from Diane Swintal:

Emirates Team New Zealand and Artemis Racing finished the day equal on points. However, ETNZ was given the lead since they had finished higher than Artemis in the second race.

San Diego has been paying attention to what works and, despite a Day One weather outlook that kept all but the hardiest of sailing junkies at home, put together a race village layout that was simple and easy for spectators.  Team bases are concentrated mostly on the Navy Pier, with the media center and viewing areas on the adjacent Broadway Pier.  Rather than having the boats hidden behind shrouds and ornate compounds, the AC45s are moored between the two piers, with the public able to watch the boats set up and head out to the race course which is right in front of both piers.  And if you’re on the USS Midway, high above the waterline, you have the best seat in the house.  Though on the cold and rainy first day, the best seat in the house might very well have been a window seat at the (warm, dry, and well lubricated) Fish House.

The crowd:
Interestingly, the ACEA has no plans to add bleachers to the end of Broadway Pier, preferring to maintain the “open space” concept.  Fine in theory -- but trying to catch the action behind a five-deep crowd isn't so easy in practice.

The art of racing in the rain, viewed from the Broadway Pier on Day 1 of the America's Cup World Series San Diego. Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

The race course:
Reaching legs, discarded for the ACC and Version 5 Cup races, and multiple marks are great for the AC45s, which accelerate off a dime -- though a challenge for spectators or announcers, since keeping track of where the boats have been and where they are going (is this Lap Two, or Lap Three???) reads sort of like a Scandia Race Week course guide.

Passing lanes:
The AC45s have passing capabilities the monohull Cup boats could only dream of.  Case in point: Artemis Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand had nightmare starts in the first race on Saturday, well behind for much of the early part of the race -- only to find themselves on the correct end of wind shifts and maneuvers that put them into first and second place, respectively.  If they had been as far out of contention in the Version 5 boat as they were on Saturday, the television coverage would have stopped showing them.

The announcers:
Cup veterans Peter Isler and Annie Gardner ably handled the commentary for everyone watching from the pier areas.  Isler and Gardner delivered the race analysis with a good mix of information for the newbie and insight for the seasoned Cup viewer. 

Next up:
On Sunday morning, Mike Martin, the Director of Umpiring and Rules Administration for the America’s Cup Regatta Management, will give us the 411 on the new illumination array on the back of the boats dubbed the "Christmas Tree” for its flashing red and green lights.  Y Flags are so last decade.

Read more about the Christmas Tree in AC45 Tech


Sweden's Artemis draws a crowd to the bow of the USS Midway during training on Friday.
 Photo:©2011 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

Saturday Outlook:
The America's Cup World Series in San Diego opens this weekend with the "Port Cities Challenge", consisting of three fleet races each day Saturday and Sunday.  Five of the nine teams will be representing local California towns as a means of drawing residents in to root for the crews.  Unlike the first two ACWS events, the first two days of fleet racing will not be shown live on TV or the internet, and coverage will instead begin with the Match Racing Championship begins on Wednesday.

 Clearing rain with winds becoming SSE to SSW 6-11 knots by race start, intermittent rain (Official site).  Winds S, 170 degrees at 9 mph, 80% chance of rain (Weather Underground).  Winds SE 17 Knots (Windfinder).  Winds S 10-15 mph, gusting to 20, 90% chance of rain with possible thunderstorms late afternoon (NOAA).  Low Tide at 4:07pm, currents will be near maximum ebb around race time.  A high surf advisory is also issued for beaches in the area, but this should not have a major impact inside the harbor.

 With two regattas under their belts, some of the experience and preparation factors should begin to settle out among the teams.  Even the newer crews have had a chance to get used to the wingsail and all teams are adapting to the tactics demanded of the unconventional race courses, rules changes, and new technologies of the ACWS.  This is a chance to sail a bit more smoothly, focus on execution, and continue learning in anticipation of launching the big AC72 yachts next year.

Event organizers will also be hoping to show off how the new racing program works both as sport and spectacle close-in to a major city, and demonstrate that the AC45 catamarans can provide exciting racing here, dispelling perceptions of light conditions and limited excitement that linger in some minds from the 1992 and 1995 America's Cup Defenses.  The RC44 regatta in the same waters last March was a good warm-up, and the reception the ACWS receives in San Diego should be just a little preview of what's to come in San Francisco less than 20 months from now.

Day 1 Morning Report from Diane Swintal at the ACWS:

Good morning from a rainy (and rather chilly) San Diego!

For those of you wondering about the fact that Southern California appears to actually have weather, remember that following the lyric “It never rains in California” come the words “It pours, man, it pours….” With 20 minutes until the warning gun, Point Loma is barely visible as a steady rain falls.

Click image to view webcam. Image:© 2011 ACEA

Regatta Director Iain Murray will run three races today and again tomorrow in the Port Cities Challenge -- the first being a longer race of three laps over a race course of approximately one mile, and two shorter races that most likely will be two laps on a course anywhere from .5 to 1.5 mile, depending on the breeze.

As Murray noted, it’s an “unusual” breeze in San Diego today, due to the direction the low pressure is traveling.  Rain and wind will be on the front of each system as it moves through, with the wind direction predicted to be from the east -- meaning the top mark will sit underneath the public viewing area on the Broadway Pier.

Like the Congressional Cup in Long Beach, which parks the start line in front of the Belmont Pier, prompting teams to all but use the pier pylons as picks, John Craig,  the Principal Race Officer (PRO), hopes to bring the action as close to the spectators as possible -- possibly alarmingly close.

“We will be sailing to a boundary as close as John can physically do it,” said Murray.  “His goal is to set it two feet off the end of the Broadway Pier.  It creates problems for us electronically if the mark is within six lengths of the boundary, so we have to make sure we can keep the mark outside that distance.  The start will be just off the Midway."  The historic aircraft carrier will be a prime viewing spot, and on the pier the lucky front-row crowd will have a great view, but less so for those in back with no bleachers are set up, at least not yet.

“The breeze will fluctuate a great deal as it comes through the city, so a lot of fortunes will change approaching the top mark, depending on how the gusts go through the buildings.  It will require the best sailors in the world to be on their best to make the most of today.”


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