AC in San Fran

Racing gets underway in the Sausalito Cup on Friday

Wednesday June 18th 2003, Author: Michelle Slade, Location: United States
Race 1 of The Sausalito Cup, the first regatta of The Challenge Series for this season, kicks off on Friday June 20 and final preparations are well underway. The fleet is sporting new sails and crews have been supplemented with professional sailors hot off the recent America’s Cup 2003 campaign in New Zealand.

Yachts scheduled to race this weekend include USA-11 (helm - John Sweeney and Tina Kleinjan), ORACLE BMW Racing (helm - Larry Ellison), NZL-20 (helm - Karie and David Thomson), Il Moro di Venezia (helm - Peter Stoneberg), and NZL-14 (helm - Mary Coleman).

Former members on Seattle’s OneWorld Challenge will be on board NZL-20, with Charlie McKee as tactician and David Endean on bow. The new ORACLE BMW Racing team will see Gavin Brady and Chris Dickson in the afterguard. On board Il Moro di Venezia Dee Smith will be on tactics. USA-11, sponsored by Wells Fargo, will have David Barnes calling tactics. Barnes’ prior America’s Cup experience includes positions as Team GBR manager, Team New Zealand skipper and crew member on America True.

For Mary Coleman, Silicon Valley venture capitalist and accomplished yacht racer, the regatta will be her first time behind the helm of an America’s Cup Class yacht. Coleman has chartered NZL-14 for the event and will have Sylvain Barrielle, veteran of four America’s Cup campaigns, supporting her as tactician.

Expect to see some surprises out on the course that has been specifically designed to maximize spectator viewing along the San Francisco cityfront. “It’s a tough course to sail with very little upwind and lots of reaching,” said John Sweeney, co-founder of The Challenge Series. “Out training on Sunday we had USA-11 reaching along at 17 knots with a flotilla of spectator boats trying to keep up.”

All the yachts in the fleet with the exception of ORACLE BMW Racing are from the International America’s Cup Class of ’92 and last season were 80% through their restoration.

“Restoration is complete, NZL-20 spent the winter in New Zealand undergoing a major refit, all the yachts in the fleet have new North 3DL sails, new paint and are ready to race,” said Sweeney.

Wells Fargo is the primary sponsor for this weekend’s regatta, with Oracle Corporation, Protector USA, Archipel Wines, and Paul & Shark also contributing sponsors.

Wind conditions are expected to be in the range of typical summer San Francisco Bay conditions 18-25 knots, with lighter air in the mornings building to a steady breeze by early afternoon, ideal race conditions for these spectacular yachts.

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