March 7, 2013: SAN FRANCISCO, CA -
Six months from today, Race 1 of the 2013 America’s Cup Finals is scheduled to be held on San Francisco Bay.
Entering from one side of the start box will be the defender, ORACLE TEAM USA. The challenger could be Artemis Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa Challenge or, perhaps, Team Korea, whichever one emerges from the 30th anniversary Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, scheduled for July and August.
The 34th Match for the America’s Cup stands to be historic on many fronts, regardless of the teams. And there will be as many unknowns when the two teams take the start line as with any previous America’s Cup Match.
"ORACLE TEAM USA 17 on San Francisco Bay" - photo credit ©Guilain GRENIER
It will be the first time that the two teams will race multihulls specifically designed for the America’s Cup. Multihulls have featured in past matches (see 2010 and 1988), but never to a design rule created for the America’s Cup. That rule also calls for shorthanded crews of 11, meaning everyone will be pulling a line or grinding a winch. Well, maybe not the helmsman.
The AC72 is a speedster unlike any seen in previous America’s Cups. Powered by a 130-foot tall wing sail and with the ability to hydrofoil, the AC72 regularly tops 35 knots boatspeed when the windspeed reaches 18 knots.
“We’ve sailed a couple of days in winds over 20 knots and it’s a different game, the boatspeed gets up big time,” says Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena. “You have to change the way you sail the boat. You have to be more careful and you push less. It’s fantastic to sail this boat. It’s emotional and stressful at the same time, but it’s an incredible feeling.”
San Francisco is well known as a windy venue, one of the sailors’ favorites in the world. Whether you agree with catamarans as a viable match racing yacht or not, the racing should be spectacular regardless of the windspeed.
The benefits of hydrofoils were readily exhibited last month when ORACLE TEAM USA and Artemis Racing squared off on San Francisco Bay for a couple of days of training. Although the sessions were more casual than formal, the foiling ORACLE TEAM USA 17 seemed quicker on every point of sail than Artemis Racing, which had small foils to help reduce drag but which were unable to lift the hulls clear of the water.
Afterwards, Artemis Racing changed tacks and announced it would undergo major modifications to become fully foiling. This week some of the team’s principles are at its base in Valencia, Spain, carrying out research on hydrofoiling.
“Sailing against Oracle was a full-scale verification that we needed to make some pretty big changes, and that’s what we are doing,” Artemis Racing CEO Paul Cayard said in a recent interview. “We are taking it on. The good news is that we learned this in February and not in July. So we have some time to react. But we need to commit more to foiling.”
The 2013 America’s Cup Finals will also be the first match held within confined waters, the natural amphitheater of San Francisco Bay. With the racecourse stretching from Crissy Field along the city front to Pier 27, home to the America’s Cup Park, there will be many vantage points for fans and spectators to catch a glimpse of the action.
The America’s Cup Match will conclude the Summer of Racing, which begins on July 4 with the Opening Ceremony for the Louis Vuitton Cup. The 30th anniversary Louis Vuitton Cup is scheduled to conclude on Aug. 30.
Two days later 60 youth sailors aged 19-24 will take to the water in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, scheduled Sept. 1-4. The 10 teams of six sailors representing eight nations will have the Bay to themselves as they slug it out in the AC45s.
Much of the racing will be viewable from the America’s Cup Park at Pier 27, which will be the will be the center of attraction during the three months of the America’s Cup season.
An amphitheater, the America’s Cup Pavilion, capable of holding up to 9,000 people will be erected around a large screen that will broadcast the racing. The amphitheater also will host a series of concerts throughout the summer. Artists and bands such as Sting, Train, Jason Mraz and Imagine Dragons have been confirmed, with more to be announced.
“The America’s Cup will bring new life, new amenities and new excitement to San Francisco’s waterfront,” says San Francisco mayor Ed Lee. “This great race, this grand tradition, this remarkable 161-year-old competition is part of the revitalization and refurbishment of this pier and our City’s waterfront.”
Before the Summer of Racing gets in full swing, the America’s Cup community will travel again to Naples, Italy, for the next and final round of the 2012-13 America’s Cup World Series. Up to nine teams are expected for the competition, scheduled Apr. 16-21.