Saturday, August 13, 2011

The AC45 World Series

I'm not a sailing racer and I don't follow any fleet racing, but I'm always intrigued by the America's Cup. I'm still not completely supportive of the move several years ago to the multihull format with a rigid wingsail, but since that's where the Cup went, I guess I have to accept it in order to appreciate it. There's more speed in the new format, but the Cup has lost the beauty associated with single-hull vessels. At least that's my feeling.

The next America's Cup will be held in San Francisco Bay in 2013, but there's lots of energy and excitement on tap before then. It all began last week in Cascais (kashkaish), Portugal with the AC45 World Series. The venue is reknowned for its superb sailing conditions, lots of sun and brisk winds. Nine teams are entered in the competition: two from the US, two from France, and 1 each from Sweden, New Zealand, Korea, China, and Spain. If I'm not mistaken, this is a first for both Asian teams.

So in 2011 and 2012, the racing will take place using the 45-foot cats that have been developed for training purposes by Oracle Racing, the defending America's Cup champion. James Spithill, the skipper of one of the two Oracle boats, has been the test pilot during development.The regatta in CasCais will be followed by another in Plymouth, UK in September and a third in San Diego, California in November.

In 2013, the teams will switch to the new standard in America's Cup racing, the AC72s, multihulls that are 30% larger than the practice boats. The challengers series, the Louis Vuitton Cup, will be first, followed by the America's Cup Championship.  There are no firm dates for either of these events yet. I'm going to be watching closely for the first hint of a solid schedule. San Francisco Bay? Sailing? Yes!

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